New grant to fund health sciences data collection tool

Ian Brooks
Ian Brooks, Research Scientist

Ian Brooks, GSLIS research scientist and founding director of the Health Sciences Group at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), is the principal investigator of a new project to develop a secure, longitudinal platform for health data collection. Collaborating on this effort is James A. Solomon, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the College of Medicine on the Urbana campus and director of Ameriderm Research.

The project seeks to create a pilot tool to combat one of the major challenge in research of skin diseases. Cutaneous disorders are affected by a range of lifestyle, diet, and environmental factors throughout an individual’s life. Understanding the effects of these factors over time, in addition to genetic predisposition, is difficult. Medical treatment based on any single factor neglects myriad data of potential significance.

Brooks will lead a team in the development of a data collection tool that will draw on two approaches: Complex Adaptive System methodology, a scientific approach that incorporates nonlinear, multidimensional, and time-independent array analyses to identify subpopulations with factors interacting over differing time periods; and Continuous Quality Improvement Assessment, a systematic survey approach that assesses multiple factors in relation to disease outcomes.

Brooks and Solomon are among the authors of an article on this topic titled, "Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to Continuous Quality Improvement Assessments Applied to Dermatology Part II- Applied to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus," which will be published in Practical Dermatology later this year.

Data collected via the pilot tool will form the foundation of a dynamic system, allowing for ongoing analysis and identification of patterns in patient health related to lifestyle, diet, and environmental factors. Brooks hopes to later expand the tool for use in the study of other health issues.

The project is funded by the Basal Cell Carcinoma Nevus Syndrome Life Support Network and titled, "Development of an Individualized Longitudinal Survey System to Adapt Complex Adaptive Systems Methodology Applied to Continuous Quality Improvement Assessments to Identify Subpopulations of Patients whose Lifestyle, Diet, Environment Similarly Affect Disease Outcome States."

At Illinois, Brooks represents both GSLIS and NCSA as a liaison to the health sciences community. In this role, he maintains and develops research relationships between GSLIS and NCSA in the area of health science information and works with faculty on externally funded projects and new initiatives. He also serves as a faculty affiliate in the University of Illinois Center for Health, Aging, and Disability and Center for African Studies, as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing. Brooks serves on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s external advisory board for high performance computing, the Pan American Health Organization’s advisory committee on e-health, and the International Society for Disease Surveillance’s research committee.