Health Based Data Science Can Get Help Get Research to Diagnostics Faster

There is a lot of talk of money in data science fields and it looks to be justified. However that wasn’t what led me to the field. I had to quit working seven years ago when I got really sick. I had been sick for a while but had maintained. However, seven years ago it turned a real corner and I became completely disabled. Mind and body.

That started a roller coaster of doctor after doctor with no answer. After six years of this I finally made my way to an immunologist who diagnosed me with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, an immune condition where environmental triggers cause mast cells in the body to release pro-inflammatory chemicals into the body and this triggers inflammation.

In my case, the inflammation was hitting all of my systems. My cardiovascular, my gastrointestinal, my neurological, my integumentary It also inflamed my brain which caused me to not be able to function and created erratic behavior.

Once my doctor got me on the right immune medication I got better. I now am myself, can function and am healthier than ever due to the lifestyle changes I had to make to combat this illness. I eat whole food organic, drink only purified water, zero sugar, etc…

It was a hard path to get here though and it was one that I had to do mostly on my own.

Since no doctor knew what was going on I had to figure it out. I approached it scientifically and controlled my diet and environment so that I could better tell what was driving symptomatology. I ran a/b tests with potential triggers. I wasn’t on medication at the time so the solution had to be exposure prevention.

This uncertainty with my diagnoses and environmental triggers led me to do a lot of research. It was looking at medical studies that I began to see how data can be used to tell a story and answer questions. It made me realize that understanding how to gather and interpret data can lead insights, which in turn can lead to better understanding and treatment modalities.

I’m hoping to work in the medical field. There is traditionally a 18 year gap between research and clinic. Data analysis can help not only uncover insights but also can help speed the time from research to implementation in people’s lives and health. It can also help make the case for governmental intervention to help clean up toxic chemical exposure to people, which is driving a tremendous amount of illness all over the world.

In my own life with this illness I’ve learned that the more good data I’ve received the better I can control my illness and live my life. This is the case for a lot of people. The problem is that the human body and our environment, including diet and things in the air are incredibly complex. There are toxins stacked on top of toxins and it is incredibly hard to pull those apart and gain insights.

Gathering and analyzing data in this field will help to untangle that mess. It can bring clarity to the picture. There are a number of people with environmental immune illnesses who are where I was and some of them won’t find the right doctor and get the right testing done. There are holes in our medical diagnostic system, especially when it comes to the immune system. Data analysis can be an invaluable tool to tackle this important problem. Data can tell a story and this is a story that needs to be told.

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Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

I am a husband, father and Data Science student at General Assembly.