Mochen Li, a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Technology, wants to combine analysis of big data with new wireless sensor networks to prevent lung cancer or increase the likelihood of its early detection.
“We are researching how to create a wireless sensor network which could collect data from around someone’s house or a hospital,” said Li, noting that one possibility would be to create apps for smart personal devices such as the Apple Watch. The network will allow for more timely collection of data.
Li is currently analyzing cancer trends using data available from the World Health Organization; World Cancer Research Fund International; Center for Disease Control; American Cancer Society; Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program; and State Cancer Profiles.
“We’re building a model with a number of categories including environmental and air quality data, cigarette smoking prevalence, typical diets, living situations, and surroundings like nearby industries,” he said. “We’re trying to get even more data into the model.”
Li said he plans to add anonymized electronic health records from previously-diagnosed American patients which include age, ethnicity, and geographical location. “Using patient data which already exists, we will build a model to test against new, real patient data to predict potential instances of lung cancer,” he said. The wireless sensor network would be used to collect that new data.
Li said the suggestion to start the research project with data analysis rather than jumping directly to designing a wireless sensor network came from Raji Sundararajan, professor of electrical and computer engineering technology. The data analysis will provide a foundation for predicting the prevalence of cancer based on age, gender, ethnicity, environment, location, and numerous other factors, Li said, and new data collected wirelessly in a timely manner will help to refine the model.
Li earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and automation at the China University of Mining & Technology in Beijing and completed his master’s degree in Purdue Polytechnic. After he completes his Ph.D., he hopes to continue his research in academia.