A U-M team examining the COVID-19 impact of in-person college classes received the grand prize in the American Heart Association's first-ever COVID-19 data challenge.
University of Michigan researchers studying the impact of in-person college classes on community COVID-19 cases won the top award in the American Heart Association’s first-ever COVID-19 data challenge. The challenge focused on understanding the relationships between COVID-19 and other risk factors, health conditions, health disparities, and social determinants of health that may bring a higher burden of illness or mortality.
After rigorous peer review by a panel of 26 U.S.-based data science and public health experts, the U-M led project titled “Population-based Features and Their Association with Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection in the United States" was selected for the grand prize ($15,000). Brahmajee Nallamothu, M.D., M.P.H., professor of internal medicine and newly-named co-director of U-M Precision Health, and Ji Zhu, Ph.D., M.Sc., professor of statistics, headed the project team.
The team analyzed national data for risk factors for COVID-19 infection, including age, medical conditions, and immune-compromised states (due to solid organ transplant or drug use) and mapped a variety of risks by state. The team also analyzed the impact of university and college fall semester 2020 reopening policies on the local counties where the institution resided. The research found that holding in-person classes at universities and colleges was associated with greater numbers of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the institution’s local county, while reopening online or in a hybrid mode was associated with a lower number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Addressing these findings together may be valuable as policymakers consider how to tailor reopening businesses and other activities as the U.S. braces for additional waves of infection during the upcoming winter. Additional team members included Yang Li, Ph.D. candidate, Cheng Ma, Ph.D. candidate, Weijing Tang, Ph.D. candidate, and Xuefei Zhang, Ph.D.
The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization dedicated to building longer, healthier lives, launched the COVID-19 data challenge in May 2020. The challenge is made possible nationally by financial support from Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), and data support by BurstIQ, the leading provider of blockchain-based secure data solutions for the healthcare industry.
Researchers participating in the challenge used BurstIQ’s data exchange network and an extensive library of global COVID-19 datasets to perform analyses within virtual, collaborative workspaces on the Precision Medicine Platform. The cloud-enabled Precision Medicine Platform is the American Heart Association’s central hub connecting to the scientific research community, providing access to data and work environments with state-of-the-art high-performance computing and analytics. Researchers connected their own data with datasets hosted on BurstIQ’s Research Foundry and the Precision Medicine Platform.
“These data challenge projects are providing much-needed insights into the relationships between COVID-19 and underserved and vulnerable communities," said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science and co-director of the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine for the American Heart Association. "Powered by the FAIR guiding principles of data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and ReUsable), data challenges recruit top level scientists that provide potential solutions that are needed during this pandemic.”
Adapted from an American Heart Association news release. Read the full release.