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1.  Method for the Development of Data Visualizations for Community Members with Varying Levels of Health Literacy 
Many Americans are challenged by the tasks of understanding and acting upon their own health data. Low levels of health literacy contribute to poor comprehension and undermine the confidence necessary for health self-management. Visualizations are useful for minimizing comprehension gaps when communicating complex quantitative information. The process of developing visualizations that accommodate the needs of individuals with varying levels of health literacy remains undefined. In this paper we provide detailed descriptions of a) an iterative methodological approach to the development of visualizations, b) the resulting types of visualizations and examples thereof, and c) the types of data the visualizations will be used to convey. We briefly describe subsequent phases in which the visualizations will be tested and refined. Web deployment of the final visualizations will support the ethical obligation to return the data to the research participants and community that contributed it.
PMCID: PMC3900122  PMID: 24551322
2.  Evolution of Co-authorship in Public Health Systems and Services Research 
Public health systems and services research (PHSSR) examines the organization, financing, and delivery of public health services and the impact of these activities on population health. An accurate description of this PHSSR is needed to empower funding agencies and other stakeholders, to coordinate PHSSR activities, and to foster the development of the field.
To characterize the emerging community of researchers engaged in PHSSR. This study 1) describes dynamics of this growing community; and 2) identifies distinct topics being researched, communities of practice within PHSSR, and collaboration among groups.
Co-authorship network visualization of selected research publications in the Medline bibliographic database.
PHSSR has emerged gradually since 1988, with noticeable growth after 1994 and after 2004. The network of PHSSR research has a core-periphery structure. The core of this network includes highly collaborative researchers focusing on topics pertaining directly to PHSSR, such as the public health workforce, quality improvement and performance, law, and information infrastructure. The periphery consists of groups publishing either more generally on various health services research topics, or on epidemiologic, clinical, or health sciences topics.
While a nucleus group of productive and engaged individuals participate in PHSSR, most authors are also involved in general health services research, issues of population health, or health science topics unrelated to PHSSR. An overview of collaboration in PHSSR is an important step in advancing a coordinated research agenda and attracting sustainable funding streams for this field.
PMCID: PMC3677523  PMID: 21665073
3.  A Brain Region-Specific Predictive Gene Map for Autism Derived by Profiling a Reference Gene Set 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28431.
Molecular underpinnings of complex psychiatric disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) remain largely unresolved. Increasingly, structural variations in discrete chromosomal loci are implicated in ASD, expanding the search space for its disease etiology. We exploited the high genetic heterogeneity of ASD to derive a predictive map of candidate genes by an integrated bioinformatics approach. Using a reference set of 84 Rare and Syndromic candidate ASD genes (AutRef84), we built a composite reference profile based on both functional and expression analyses. First, we created a functional profile of AutRef84 by performing Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis which encompassed three main areas: 1) neurogenesis/projection, 2) cell adhesion, and 3) ion channel activity. Second, we constructed an expression profile of AutRef84 by conducting DAVID analysis which found enrichment in brain regions critical for sensory information processing (olfactory bulb, occipital lobe), executive function (prefrontal cortex), and hormone secretion (pituitary). Disease specificity of this dual AutRef84 profile was demonstrated by comparative analysis with control, diabetes, and non-specific gene sets. We then screened the human genome with the dual AutRef84 profile to derive a set of 460 potential ASD candidate genes. Importantly, the power of our predictive gene map was demonstrated by capturing 18 existing ASD-associated genes which were not part of the AutRef84 input dataset. The remaining 442 genes are entirely novel putative ASD risk genes. Together, we used a composite ASD reference profile to generate a predictive map of novel ASD candidate genes which should be prioritized for future research.
PMCID: PMC3235126  PMID: 22174805
4.  Evaluation of a Prototype Search and Visualization System for Exploring Scientific Communities 
Searches of bibliographic databases generate lists of articles but do little to reveal connections between authors, institutions, and grants. As a result, search results cannot be fully leveraged. To address this problem we developed Sciologer, a prototype search and visualization system. Sciologer presents the results of any PubMed query as an interactive network diagram of the above elements. We conducted a cognitive evaluation with six neuroscience and six obesity researchers. Researchers used the system effectively. They used geographic, color, and shape metaphors to describe community structure and made accurate inferences pertaining to a) collaboration among research groups; b) prominence of individual researchers; and c) differentiation of expertise. The tool confirmed certain beliefs, disconfirmed others, and extended their understanding of their own discipline. The majority indicated the system offered information of value beyond a traditional PubMed search and that they would use the tool if available.
PMCID: PMC2815483  PMID: 20351816
PubMed; Medline; search; visualization; social networks; translational research
5.  Topological Analysis of Large-scale Biomedical Terminology Structures 
To characterize global structural features of large-scale biomedical terminologies using currently emerging statistical approaches.
Given rapid growth of terminologies, this research was designed to address scalability. We selected 16 terminologies covering a variety of domains from the UMLS Metathesaurus, a collection of terminological systems. Each was modeled as a network in which nodes were atomic concepts and links were relationships asserted by the source vocabulary. For comparison against each terminology we created three random networks of equivalent size and density.
Average node degree, node degree distribution, clustering coefficient, average path length.
Eight of 16 terminologies exhibited the small-world characteristics of a short average path length and strong local clustering. An overlapping subset of nine exhibited a power law distribution in node degrees, indicative of a scale-free architecture. We attribute these features to specific design constraints. Constraints on node connectivity, common in more synthetic classification systems, localize the effects of changes and deletions. In contrast, small-world and scale-free features, common in comprehensive medical terminologies, promote flexible navigation and less restrictive organic-like growth.
While thought of as synthetic, grid-like structures, some controlled terminologies are structurally indistinguishable from natural language networks. This paradoxical result suggests that terminology structure is shaped not only by formal logic-based semantics, but by rules analogous to those that govern social networks and biological systems. Graph theoretic modeling shows early promise as a framework for describing terminology structure. Deeper understanding of these techniques may inform the development of scalable terminologies and ontologies.
PMCID: PMC2213477  PMID: 17712094
6.  Understanding Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Collaborations: A Campus-Wide Survey of Obesity Experts 
This paper reports a campus-wide survey of obesity experts that allowed us to understand organizational factors and collaboration patterns affiliated with health sciences research. By combining Google and PubMed searches and the snowball sampling method, we identified and then surveyed 113 obesity experts on their collaborators, research interests, and affiliations with academic departments and research centers. The response rate was 61%. We describe the diversity in organizational affiliations, research interests, journals for disseminating results, and collaboration patterns among the respondents. We also analyze the challenges and research opportunities related to identifying experts and forging interdisciplinary health sciences collaborations. We conclude with possible success factors for sustained interdisciplinary collaborations.
PMCID: PMC2656079  PMID: 18999235
7.  Human and Automated Coding of Rehabilitation Discharge Summaries According to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health 
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) is designed to provide a common language and framework for describing health and health-related states. The goal of this research was to investigate human and automated coding of functional status information using the ICF framework.
The authors extended an existing natural language processing (NLP) system to encode rehabilitation discharge summaries according to the ICF.
The authors conducted a formal evaluation, comparing the coding performed by expert coders, non-expert coders, and the NLP system.
Automated coding can be used to assign codes using the ICF, with results similar to those obtained by human coders, at least for the selection of ICF code and assignment of the performance qualifier. Coders achieved high agreement on ICF code assignment.
This research is a key next step in the development of the ICF as a sensitive and universal classification of functional status information. It is worthwhile to continue to investigate automated ICF coding.
PMCID: PMC1561799  PMID: 16799117
8.  Planning against Biological Terrorism: Lessons from Outbreak Investigations 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2003;9(5):515-519.
We examined outbreak investigations conducted around the world from 1988 to 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Epidemic Intelligence Service. In 44 (4.0%) of 1,099 investigations, identified causative agents had bioterrorism potential. In six investigations, intentional use of infectious agents was considered. Healthcare providers reported 270 (24.6%) outbreaks and infection control practitioners reported 129 (11.7%); together they reported 399 (36.3%) of the outbreaks. Health departments reported 335 (30.5%) outbreaks. For six outbreaks in which bioterrorism or intentional contamination was possible, reporting was delayed for up to 26 days. We confirmed that the most critical component for bioterrorism outbreak detection and reporting is the frontline healthcare profession and the local health departments. Bioterrorism preparedness should emphasize education and support of this frontline as well as methods to shorten the time between outbreak and reporting.
PMCID: PMC2972753  PMID: 12737732
Bioterrorism; Preparedness; Outbreak; Anthrax; perspective
9.  Epidemiologic Responses to Anthrax Outbreaks: A Review of Field Investigations, 1950–2001 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1163-1174.
We used unpublished reports, published manuscripts, and communication with investigators to identify and summarize 49 anthrax-related epidemiologic field investigations conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1950 to August 2001. Of 41 investigations in which Bacillus anthracis caused human or animal disease, 24 were in agricultural settings, 11 in textile mills, and 6 in other settings. Among the other investigations, two focused on building decontamination, one was a response to bioterrorism threats, and five involved other causes. Knowledge gained in these investigations helped guide the public health response to the October 2001 intentional release of B. anthracis, especially by addressing the management of anthrax threats, prevention of occupational anthrax, use of antibiotic prophylaxis in exposed persons, use of vaccination, spread of B. anthracis spores in aerosols, clinical diagnostic and laboratory confirmation methods, techniques for environmental sampling of exposed surfaces, and methods for decontaminating buildings.
PMCID: PMC2730298  PMID: 12396934
anthrax; Bacillus anthracis; bacterial infections; disease outbreaks; public health; bioterrorism; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.); historical article (publication type); zoonoses

Results 1-9 (9)