WSU receives $200,000 for health informatics system to address urban health challenges

September 22, 2016

Wayne State University received notice of a nearly $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that aims to address the many health challenges faced in urban communities due to the increasing complexity of urban life, declining urban services, and growing health and economic disparities. The team science project will focus on childhood obesity disparities, one example of the negative consequences of such challenges.

The grant, “Promoting a Healthier Urban Community: Prioritization of Risk Factors for the Prevention and Treatment of Pediatric Obesity,” aims to develop an innovative, data-driven health informatics system to promote comprehensive, efficient and personalized obesity-related care for preschoolers living in urban communities.

Ming Dong, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science in the WSU College of Engineering and principal investigator of the study, said the project has potential to promote a healthier urban community.

“The Preschool Risk for Obesity Portal, or PROP, that we are developing will offer an innovative, multi-level, mixed-effects machine-learning method and scalable algorithms that can precisely identify and prioritize a preschooler’s personalized risk factors for obesity,” Dong said. “The data and tool-rich online system that we are designing offers novel algorithms for information extraction and understanding from multi-scale, correlated and heterogeneous datasets.”

He is collaborating with WSU School of Medicine Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences Elizabeth Towner, Ph.D., and Associate Professor of Computer Science Dongxiao Zhu, Ph.D.

The system will offer an improved method to prevent and treat pediatric obesity through better data integration from multiple community sources and systems.

The grant number for this project is No. 1637312.