Ramaraju Ruraraju, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is one of four $5,000 prize winners in a competition developed by the American Heart Association, seeking to understand why the Covid-19 virus hits some people harder than others.
A health informatics researcher at UAB, Ruraraju led a team focused on “Understanding the Impact of Social Determinants of Health on Covid-19 Outbreak.”
Along with the UAB team, teams from the University of Michigan, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Lifemesh Corp. were $5,000 prize winners. The four teams now move into a second phase, in which a $15,000 grand prize will be awarded in November.
The four winners were selected in a peer-reviewed competition among 29 entrants, all focused on “understanding the relationships between Covid-19 and other health conditions, health disparities and social determinants of health that may bring a higher burden of illness or mortality.”
Along with the AHA, the competition was sponsored by Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd, with data support by BurstIQ, a provider of blockchain-based secure data solutions for healthcare.
“Researchers connected their own data with datasets hosted on BurstIQ’s Research Foundry and the Precision Medicine Platform to address questions of how Covid-19 may be disproportionally affecting those with health disparities,” the AHA said in announcing winners. “Researchers participating in the challenge used BurstIQ’s data exchange network and an extensive library of global Covid-19 datasets to perform analyses within workspaces on the Precision Medicine Platform.
“These researchers are enabling us to better understand the disproportionate burden Covid-19 is having on underserved and vulnerable communities,” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science and co-director of the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine for the American Heart Association.