Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have partnered to launch a new master’s degree program in predictive health this fall, enabling Tech students to learn about analyzing health-related risk factors to improve health and preventive care in the United States.
The new track is a part of the current Masters of Science in Health Systems program at Georgia Tech’s School of Industrial and Systems Engineering and will be offered as a Georgia Tech masters degree. Students in this program will be working with the Emory-Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute in analyzing large scale patient databases collected by Emory.
The program will focus on defining a standard of health and predicting health based on lifestyle and biologic factors, said Kenneth Brigham, associate vice president of the Emory-Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute.
“Georgia Tech has been offering a degree in health systems for many years but has primarily focused on how to manage health systems,” Chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Jane Ammons said.
According to Ammons, students will take more analytical courses than the current program for a total of 30 semester hours to better understand how to interpret data and create statistical models for risk factors and health trends.
The program will be analyzing data from more than 700 patients from a large scale database collected by Emory-Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute during the past several years.
This data includes lifestyle information such as quality of life, stress and diet as well as biologic measurements including fitness, bone density and blood tests, among others, Brigham said.
“The new part of the degree focuses on predictive health, which builds on the analytical skills of Georgia Tech engineering students who will for the first time will study what kinds of things can we do to keep people healthy,” Ammons said.
Brigham and Ammons explained that Georgia Tech students and faculty will use their engineering expertise to develop software that could show health trends and risk factors.
“The future of health care is focusing on not just the absence or presence of disease but developing predictive models that integrate all the information so people can better take care of themselves,” Brigham explained.
Brigham and Ammons said they believe this program will be useful for preventive treatment and future health care. They said they believe preventive care can cut medical costs and result in an overall healthier population.
“We’re moving towards personalized medicine in future health care and some of these mathematical models that the students will be learning and using can predict the health standards of patients,” Brigham said.
The program is funded by the George Family Foundation, a private grantmaking organization that funds many projects related to health. The founder Bill George is also a Georgia Tech alum.
Students who wish to apply for the program must apply through Georgia Tech’s Masters of Science in Health Systems department.
— Contact Mallika Manyapu