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NIH R21 Grant Award for Dr. Vicki Hertzberg

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Shumuriel Ratliff
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The NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has awarded a grant on Machine Learning for Atrial Fibrillation Ablation to Vicki Stover Hertzberg Ph.D., FASA, P. Stat, a Professor with Emory University's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. The R21 Research Project grant provides funding of $336,595 for two years to lay the foundation for future refinement of existing machine learning methods as well as the development of new methods to improve the prediction of AF recurrence following AFA. Joyce C. Ho, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computer Science is multiple PI for the project. Also collaborating is Emory colleague Kathryn Wood, RN, Ph.D., FAHA, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing, and Michael Lloyd, MD, Professor of Medicine (Cardiology).

Affecting over 6 million people in the U.S., atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common cardiac arrhythmia, is a major public health concern. AF is costly to the health care system and leads to significant health consequences (e.g., stroke, heart failure, dementia, decreased quality of life). With time, AF patients experience increased frequency and duration of AF episodes. Random occurrence of sporadic AF episodes and the need for anticoagulation to prevent stroke make AF difficult to manage. Many AF patients seek out atrial fibrillation ablation (AFA) to improve their quality of life and decrease AF episodes. AFA, cauterization of areas of the left atrium, is the most effective treatment for persistent/paroxysmal AF.

The completion of this grant research project will allow Dr. Hertzberg to use machine-learning techniques to develop predictive models for outcomes of primary AFA procedures, addressing the following specific aims:
          1. Predict adverse AFA outcomes using machine learning.
          2. Data-driven AFA outcome subgroup identification.
          3. Develop an open-source software toolkit.

Dr. Hertzberg is a Professor, tenured, and is an internationally recognized expert on "big data" and its impact on health care. She is widely known for her work measuring the social contacts in emergency departments and disease transmission on airplanes. The National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease have funded her research. Her work has been published in high-impact journals, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, New England Journal of Medicine, PLOS One, and Pediatrics.

For more information on Dr. Vicki Hertzberg, visit her faculty profile. To learn more about the R21 Research Project grant, visit the National Institute of Health website.

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