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CHOIR and Health EQ grants focus on projects related to COVID

Loyola University Chicago’s Health EQ Collaborative and Center for Health Outcomes and Informatics Research (CHOIR) will fund four proposals in 2020, all focusing on COVID-19 research or community engagement and partnerships. The Health EQ Collaborative seeks to reduce health inequalities in the Chicago area through funding of up to $50,000 per proposal. Congratulations to the four awardees  

A High-Performance Computing Infrastructure and AI-Based COVID-19 Diagnosis Tool 

Team: Oguz Akbilgic, Mohammed Samie Tootooni, Ari Goldberg, Majid Afshar, PI; Co-I: Ibrahim Karabayir; Liam Butler, Ranit Sengupta 

Project summary: Artificial intelligence (AI) methods have been widely used in developing clinical decision support systems in recent years. AI methods can scan thousands or millions of data points in seconds that human brain cannot, find patterns in medical images unapparent to the naked eye, and associate different kinds of data points, which normally would take years for a human expert to do it manually. The goal of this project is to leverage advanced AI methods to assist clinicians in the timely diagnosis of COVID-19 and identify people who are at higher risk for developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). To do that, we will implement advanced deep learning and machine learning techniques on a variety of informative data such as chest radiography, demographics, co-morbidities, medication use, and free text notes such as triage notes, chief complaints, and radiology reports. Successful completion of this project will result in a clinical decision support tool that will provide additional information to clinicians and help them diagnose COVID-19. It will also allow clinicians to better plan and utilize emergency department and ICU resources by identifying the patients who are at high risk for ARDS.

Urban Garden Connection Responds to COVID-19 

Team: Mary Mora, Joanne Kouba, Lena Hatchett 

Project summary: This project will address food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding and adapting existing community food resourcesCOVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity in communities already prone to lack of resourcessuch as Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood, and Melrose Parkwhere residents have been disproportionately impacted by illness and loss of employment 

COVID-19 Registry for Organizing Chicagoland Area Research for Health Equity and Community Services (CRO Cares) 

Team: Jessica Shore, PI; Cara Joyce, Co-I; Colleen Fitzgerald, Co-I; Kenneth Baker, Jeanne Cerceo, Amy Wozniak, Mike Wesolowski 

Project summary: Many Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC) investigators conducting health disparities research utilize resources offered by Loyola University Chicago’s (LUC) Clinical Research Office (CRO), the umbrella organization for a diverse group of services essential to the support and conduct of clinical research including study coordination, budgeting, regulatory, biostatistics, and biobanking. Over the last two years, the CRO has been developing Community Grand Rounds in collaboration with the Parkinson School’s Public Health Sciences department to increase participation of ethnically diverse individuals in clinical research at Loyola, through enhanced community engagement. In March 2020, the CRO initiated a COVID-19 Registry to facilitate the study of LUMC patients presenting with suspected COVID-19. This registry uses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention case report form for persons under investigation to collect information for presumed positive cases and has additional data elements for specific clinical questions in oncology, pulmonary and critical care medicine, and cardiology among others. The overall objective of this proposal is to offer LUMC and LUC researchers a comprehensive resource for COVID-19 clinical data while providing foundational health disparity statistics that may inform community programs and health outcomes research with health equity goals.

Catalyzing to Curb the COVID-19 Pandemic in Maywood (C3M) 

Team: Abigail Silva, PI; Co-I: Amy Luke; Tiffany Ku, Candice Choo-Kang 

Project summary: Increased testing paired with contact tracing among infected individuals offers the greatest hope for decreasing the spread of COVID-19 and related mortality, as illustrated by the positive results achieved by several other countries. Most public health departments in Illinois, if not the entire country, are seriously underfunded due to decades of budget cuts and will be challenged to conduct the level of contact tracing required in the coming year(s). The hardest hit communities and under-resourced health departments will require support and a trained workforce to suppress high rates of infection, prevent a second wave of infections, and reduce health disparities.