Andreea Avramescu will be able to further develop her research into personalised medicine, which has strong relevance in the fight against COVID-19.
Andreea Avramescu’s research studies could not have been brought into any sharper focus by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her PhD in Business and Management has been looking at precisely how best to optimise the development and delivery of personalised medicine using data science and artificial intelligence (AI), tools which are regarded as having a major role to play in the fight against the virus in the future.
As she explains: “Pandemics are not new but what sets this one apart is our ability to collect and interpret large amount of information. Machine learning and AI models can be trained using this data, and ultimately aid healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 in their decision-making as they will have the ability to predict each patient’s risk based on different characteristics such as their pre-existing health conditions. Data science and more personalised medicine will definitely play a major role in tackling COVID-19.”
Andreea says the fact that COVID-19 doesn’t treat everyone equally makes personalised medicine even more important in terms of tackling the virus.
“Alongside the well-known age curve and its effect on the severity of the disease, gender seems to be playing a major role too with (among those that have tested positive) twice as many men being admitted to hospital than women. A number of research papers have found a correlation between the genetic profiles of individuals and the way they are affected by drugs. Although more research is necessary until we fully understand the nature of the virus, patients could benefit from a personalised drug therapy rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.”
Her PhD has indeed been specifically looking at how to design a flexible decision framework tool which can optimise the supply chain for advanced therapies used in personalised medicine. “Essentially what we are talking about is how the supply chain involves the patient directly, something we are already beginning to see in areas such as cancer care. The timely and efficient delivery of medicine between a patient and a manufacturing facility can be really important, and our framework is about optimising all aspects of personalised medicine therapies in terms of logistics, scheduling, and patient profiles.”
Meanwhile Andreea, who is from Romania and first came to the UK five years ago to take a BA in Criminology and Quantitative Methods at The University of Manchester before going on to take an MSc in Data Science (Business Management), has now been given a superb opportunity to further develop her research after successfully applying for a place on the Enrichment scheme at the Alan Turing Institute (ATI).
Founded in 2015, the ATI is the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence and its main objective is to solve some of the biggest challenges that society and the science community faces.
Its Enrichment scheme offers researchers currently enrolled on a doctoral programme at a UK university the opportunity to conduct research in conjunction with the ATI and to enrich their research by creating collaborations with both Turing fellows and other enrichment researchers. Andreea takes up her nine-month placement from January 2021.
As she adds: “The ATI has a dedicated healthcare and personalised medicine stream which looks at how data science can help predict patient risk for certain diseases. The field of precision medicine is one of their key research areas as part of the ‘Revolutionise Healthcare’ challenge so I am incredibly excited at this opportunity.”
Andreea’s academic supervisor Dr Richard Allmendinger, Senior Lecturer in Decision Sciences at Alliance MBS, added: “This is a very prestigious scheme and it is a great achievement for Andreea to be selected. As a School we are continually increasing our efforts in the digital, AI and data science domain and this is further evidence of our growing reputation.”
In 2017 The University of Manchester became a university partner with the ATI and today has a number of Alan Turing Fellows. Alliance MBS also has a number of fellows including Dr Julia Handl, Dr Nadia Papamichail and Professor Ser-Huang Poon.