WHAMglobal Presentation Offers “Ah-Ha” Moments on Healthy Aging for Women

Dr. Vanathi Gopalakrishnan addresses the WHAMglobal Board.

Sometimes, life serves up "aha" moments. Sometimes research does. And at times, the personal and professional blend in unexpected ways.

Such is the case for Vanathi Gopalakrishnan, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), where she is an associate professor in biomedical informatics, bioengineering, and clinical and translational sciences in the School of Medicine.

In a presentation for the June 3 meeting of the Women's Health Activist Movement global (WHAMglobal) Board of Directors titled Can Female Digital Health Twins Improve Equity of Care for Women as They Age?, Dr. Gopalakrishnan discussed her research, including exploring the potential for multimodal large language models that have clinical applications; the use of collective intelligence for discovery and evidence gathering that can be used for decision support for clinicians; and integrative modeling of women's health data across the lifecycle.

At Pitt, Dr. Gopalakrishnan directs PRoBE, the Laboratory for Pattern Recognition from Biomedical Evidence. She also is fundraising and cementing partnerships for a new global innovation Center for Women's Integrative Health Analytics Research (WIHAR).She envisions WIHAR becoming the world's premier innovation center of knowledge and practice for women's integrated health and wellness across the lifespan.

Dr. Gopalakrishnan said Pittsburgh provides a rich ecosystem for innovation for women's health across the life cycle. She described working with faculty in computational biology and medicine from Carnegie Mellon University and Pitt. She also works with researchers at UPMC, the Magee-Women's Research Institute, Children's Hospital, the Hillman Cancer Center, and the newly formed Institute for Precision Medicine at Pitt.

She drew the board's attention to the School of Medicine's Department of Family and Community Medicine as being exceptional for training and research. Her own research group has international partnerships with professors at the Quota Center for Digital Health in the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India, and Carnegie Mellon University's campus in Rwanda. She anticipates that her research group will welcome more global partners.

During her presentation, Dr. Gopalakrishnan reflected on her personal health values and clearer thinking based on what she's learned about women's health issues gleaned from the data she collects.

She called these "aha" moments of clarity, and smiling, she also noted that as a scientist, she categorizes these victories as Algorithms for Healthy Aging (AHA). She noted AHA moments can occur in the fields of diagnostics, preventative medicine, precision medicine, data-driven pharmacological research, the reduction of adverse medication events, cost reductions and the monitoring of population health to identify disease trends and health strategies.

She also said retaining talented technologists "has to become a global movement" because these technologists can convert data to useful information and "give physicians and other health care agents back their lives.

As a computer scientist and contributor to articles about Grand Challenges in Artificial Intelligence, she added that her view of intelligence has evolved to mean "clear thinking aligned with natural laws, using multidimensional, multimodal perception that is transformed into decisions of when and how to act. 

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