Fondazione Gianni Benzi is actively involved in the Information Technology (IT) sector that emerged in the last few years as a powerful tool for the advancement of scientific research in many fields and especially in the biomedical one. Fondazione Gianni Benzi provided with an IT-Lab that leads many research activities based on IT tools and skills.
In February 2020, two of our researchers involved in the IT, Giuseppe and Elisabetta, pursued the master’s degree in Data Science - Metodologie, analisi, progettazione, soluzioni, promoted by the Informatic Department of the Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, in collaboration with SPEGEA Business School. The master aimed to train the Data Scientist, a professional profile that can handle a big amount of data, can take knowledge and present it, ensuring a supporting efficient system for decision making through multidisciplinary skills.
For the occasion Giuseppe and Elisabetta reported to us their experiences. Both applied Machine Learning (ML) algorithms, an application of Data Science, to the healthcare field with the aim to find predictive models, useful to provide with suggestions for the healthcare needs and the subsequent measures to be adopted. During the master the techniques of the Data Science, a cross discipline, were used in the medical and pharmacological field that nowadays is still little explored from this point of view. Particularly Giuseppe focused his work on the analysis of health data from general practitioners. The analysis aimed to identify correlations among the prescribed medicines as well as among the prescribed medicines and the main patient health status parameters. According to Giuseppe, the adoption of these ML techniques to the areas of interest of Fondazione Benzi would represent a benefit, because it would enable the foundation to increase its goals and to start new research initiatives in this sector that is constantly evolving. Specifically, the large-scale analysis of patients would boost the healthcare research, not only for the evaluation of new medicines, but also for the choice and improvement of a new clinical treatment thanks to the medical management software and to the e-Health services.
Elisabetta focused on the manipulation of the “Orphadata” dataset, that was based on a partial extrapolation of data included in the Orphanet database and presents information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Her work aimed to evaluate and compare the status of the orphan drugs that have not received the marketing authorisation yet and those that have been already authorised in EU and US. Elisabetta explained that, through this experience, she was able to increase her knowledge in one of the main studying field of Fondazione Benzi and she had the chance to apply the data mining techniques on the Health Data analysis. In the future, the informative potentialities, included in pharmaceutical data related to orphan drugs (features, target populations, clinical trials trend) will be promoted through the ML application for the prediction of the new medicines development outcome, supporting in this way the rare diseases field that is still little analysed.
Introducing the Data Science, a new concept of Medicine might be developed as well as a new way of researching. Keeping on investing in this field could represent an opportunity to reveal the great value of health data.
These experiences prove that enlarging the perspectives towards new approaches can contribute to better achieve the research goals!