28 October 2019 • Arie Verhoef
Minor in Applied Data Science conducts pioneering research
How can you use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the diagnosis of shoulder pain? The students and lecturer of the minor in Applied Data Science are doing their best to answer this research question. The minor is a collaboration between the faculties of IT & Design (ITD) and Technology, Innovation & Society (TIS), the Technology for Health research group and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). They are implementing a unique concept in research and education through this minor.
Erwin de Vlugt, Professor in Technology for Health, is extremely enthusiastic about the structure of the minor. “The things being done by the lecturer and students on this minor have never been shown anywhere else, in terms of the content or the process.” Lecturer and researcher Tony Andrioli underscores this. “I’m proud of what we’re able to do for students and the professional field with this minor. The underlying concept connects and enriches the team of students which I am part of as a lecturer.”
The content of the research is pioneering. The key question is whether and how Artificial Intelligence can support doctors with their diagnoses. Movement sensors connected to a computer system are used to examine patients with shoulder pain. The sensors record shoulder movements and compare these to the Big Data in the computer. This allows patterns to be ‘recognised’, which leads to a diagnosis that is comparable to that of a doctor.
Erwin de Vlugt: “Using AI to support diagnosis has huge potential. However experienced a doctor is, he or she may miss something. Artificial Intelligence combines the movement seen by sensors on the patient’s body with data that already exists. This is currently focused on shoulder movements, but it can be extended to any part of the locomotor apparatus. Soon we may be able to include a person’s facial expression in the research, or other parts of their body. Then AI would be able to indicate that the shoulder pain arose from a poorly functioning knee, for instance.”
New gold standard
The research is being conducted in collaboration with doctors and patients from LUMC. Erwin: “Patients are working with us because it will enable them to get a diagnosis more quickly and leave the outpatients’ department sooner. This project is being implemented in a rehabilitation environment. The doctors are already used to a lot of technology there and they see the potential added value of AI in a positive light. We are now teaching AI to be just as good as the doctor. If we manage that, perhaps we will reach a new gold standard. So this is totally pioneering. It’s a new diagnostical reality.”
“The research on this minor brings together various disciplines in education, research and the professional field, namely data science, technology, ICT, design and nursing. Everyone involved feels the same challenge. All disciplines are talented at conceptual thinking. The nurses translate what happens on the hospital floor. It’s great that you can develop the application using your knowledge and methodology and that we’re now going to test the first prototypes.”
Challenging and dynamic
The minor in Applied Data Science is built up of two blocks lasting ten weeks. During the first period, students are given the in-depth information they need to start the research. They also check through the results from previous research teams again. The second block is dedicated entirely to conducting research. The lecturers/researchers Tony Andrioli and Jeroen Vuurens are the driving force behind the minor. Tony explains the pioneering character of the education and research concept.
“As a lecturer, I’m a fellow researcher of the students. I’m part of the research team, but I’m not the leader per se. Of course, there is a distinction. However, I don’t know what results will come out of the research either. This makes it a challenge for the entire team. Since I’m with them in the team I can provide feedback and guide them, but I do not evaluate them. I leave this to other lecturers who have a more critical distance. It’s very special to do research as a more senior researcher with young people. They have a lot of creativity and courage and considerable energy. I bring along my seniority, knowledge and experience. This adds a special form of dynamism.”
Tony: “For me, this project is like a home-coming. My PhD was in Medical Science & Computing. As a research team in this minor, we can be meaningful for society. Furthermore, the collaboration with so many disciplines and with people from LUMC is enriching. It would be nice if this indeed could lead to new diagnostic possibilities.”
Incidentally, further applications of AI and Big Data are being studied in the minor with other partners from the professional field.
Interactive presentations by students of the minor Applied Data Science “The latest technologies in the field of Artificial Intelligence applied in all sectors of society”
Open to all lecturers and students: 1 November 14.15 uur SL.2.41