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Science AMA Series: I’m Andrey Rzhetsky, professor at the University of Chicago. I study big datasets—like 150 million patient records to find links between autism and environment, or all of PubMed to find diseases that we should be investing more resources in. AMA!
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Hi Reddit, My name is Andrey Rzhetsky, professor of medicine and director of the Conte Center for Computational Neuropsychiatric Genomics at the University of Chicago. I’m interested in how genetic and environmental factors combine to make people sick. To study this, I use mathematical modeling to look for insights in very large collections of data. For example, I’ve analyzed 150 million U.S. electronic medical records (all anonymous, of course) to examine the links between autism and environment. We found hotspots across the U.S., which we hope will give us insight into causes and prevention. We are now looking at specific environmental factors that might have correlations to autism, as well as in other diseases like bipolar disorder. We also apply large-scale data modeling to other topics. For example, my colleagues and I recently text-mined all of PubMed to identify research strategies that might maximize scientific discovery and return on public investment. You can read about some examples of our work here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/more-evidence-environmental-exposures-contribute-to-autism/ http://sciencelife.uchospitals.edu/2015/09/15/improving-the-allocation-of-biomedical-research-resources-with-big-data/ http://www.ci.uchicago.edu/press-releases/scientific-research-conservative-could-be-accelerated Thank you very much for wonderful questions. Apologies for not answering all of them! I have to go now, but thanks Reddit, it’s been a lot of fun!!”