I probably mentioned it already, but I graduated in Marketing/Communication and have always worked with Advertising. |I have nothing to do with medicine or doctors. And yet, yesterday I was at a medical conference at the Karolinska Institut presenting a project I did this semester. I could never imagine that. And we did great. Let me tell you about CAT, the Cohort Analysis Tool.
What is all About?
This semester I took a course called Information Visualization. As the name might indicate, it is all about how do we get huge chunks of data and turn them into elegant and beautiful things that will enable users to really understand what is going on. It was a heavy course, with lots to do. But super fun. I even blogged about the first project on it. Anyway, the last project of the course is meant to be big. In the past years, it produced all sorts of visualizations, and lots of those were awarded in the
Anyway, the last project of the course is meant to be big. In the past years, it produced all sorts of visualizations, and lots of those were awarded in the C-Awards, a visualization student competition. This year, Mario Romero, the course responsible, decided to do things a little different. And brought some people with proposals for the students. One of the proposals was from a Research Group at Karolinska Institut, focused on Prostate Cancer Treatment.
This Research Team, a joint group of KI and Johnson&Johnson/Jensen researchers, managed to gather one of the best databases on prostate cancer in the whole world. By best I mean bigger and more complete, with something around 400.000 entries from men all over Sweden. Yes, this big.
The issue the researchers have is that such a massive database can be quite hard to visualize. The common thing to do is use Excel or specific Statistical Analysis programs. And if you ever used Excel you understand that it is simply not practical to try to understand this big data with the available tools. So here was our task: create something that will help doctors understand the data and have insights.
As we heard about the proposal, I was sure I wanted to work with it. For me, it was a chance to work with something that really matters. If we managed to do a good job, it could impact real people. And also, it is a deadly disease and Sweden is a country with high rates of prostate cancer. Finally, as a man, it impacts me directly. As one of the doctors involved in the project mention: if you live long enough, you will certainly develop prostate cancer.
Yesterday at Karolinska
As a final stage, the groups that worked with the Prostate Cancer Research (in the end, 3 groups used this dataset) presented their work at a conference yesterday. It was an event called Advanced Real World Data Analysis Collaboration, hosted by the Karolinska Institut and Janssen, and as you can imagine, it was basically a room full of high-end doctors, hospital managers, and researchers. Not an easy crowd, I can say. They have been studying this for years, and we all worked only a couple of weeks. Anyway, we can say the projects blew their minds. The feedback we received was super impressive, going from “game changer” to “where can I buy this?”. And even some hints of possible extensions in this project, turning the prototypes we developed in real software. In other words, it couldn’t be better.
What did I get from it?
I am really proud of what my team has accomplished. In 6 weeks full of brainstorm sessions, user interviews, sketches, and discussions, we developed a neat tool that was able to give real insights to real doctors. And I hope I have the opportunity of more interdisciplinary work, to get together with researchers and other Institutions. I have to say, this was amazing.It was a tough course, with lots to do. But we handle it really well and all I can say is that my group was amazing 🙂
It was a tough course, with lots to do. But we handle it really well and all I can say is that my group was amazing 🙂
Here are a couple of pics from yesterday. I hope you like it 🙂