OSU’s Dursun Delen one of only 10 nationwide
accepted for RoAD-Trip mentorship program

by Ariel West 
(February 9, 2017 at 8:08 am)

Dursun Delen, Regents professor, Management Science and Information Systems

Oklahoma State University’s Management Science and Information Systems department at the Spears School of Business has once again been recognized for exceptional work in data science and business analytics.

Dursun Delen, Regents professor, was selected for a prestigious recognition as a mentor for the University of Southern California’s Data Science Rotations for Advancing Discovery (RoAD-Trip) program, which pairs junior-level mentees with a senior mentor to address the challenges of translating complex data into knowledge.

Paired with University of Alabama at Birmingham assistant professor of health administration Ferhat Zengul, the two created a proposal that underwent a rigorous peer-review evaluation process before being accepted. The proposal, which aims to contribute to the improvement of organ-matching algorithms, was one of 10 to be selected nationwide for the program.

“An average of 22 people die waiting for an organ transplant, and the waiting list grows by one person every 10 minutes,” Delen said. “There is always a greater number of people in need of liver transplants than the supply of donated livers, and ironically, many organs are being discarded due to less than optimal matching policies and practices.

“Hence, exploring the improvement of the current matching policies and algorithms between donor and recipient is a worthy research endeavor as both the recipient and other potential recipients from the waiting list could benefit from better utilization of donated organs. None of the previous studies tapped into the potential of Big Data, and by using data science techniques, we can improve the pairing process at no additional cost, potentially saving thousands of lives,” Delen added.

Ferhat Zengul, assistant professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham

Delen and Zengul’s proposal, “Development of Predictive Models for Graft Survival after Liver Transplantation: Hybrid Analytic Approaches,” is linked to the National Institutes of Health’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative in four ways: the proposal makes an attempt to work on the largest organ transplant data in the U.S. and explore other datasets; conducts research and developing decision support tools to enhance existing computerized matching algorithms between liver donor and recipient; acquires necessary training in machine-learning approaches and applies this knowledge in biomedical/health services research; and contributes to the big-data ecosystem by disseminating the knowledge gained and collaborating in developing cost-efficient interventions to design prospective clinical studies. The goal of the BD2K initiative is to empower current and future generations of researchers with an understanding of the data science ecosystem.

“When I learned about the RoAD-Trip program, I felt like a perfect fit for the requirements,” Zengul said. “The program required a junior researcher who possessed a large dataset but did not yet have full expertise and knowledge in analyzing and turning the data into knowledge. Due to my interest in the application of machine-learning in health related subjects, I already had an IRB approval to work on the United Network for Organ Sharing dataset, but I lacked the expertise in machine learning to determine whether I was getting anywhere with the data or not. I immediately recognized Dr. Delen’s name on the list of potential mentors and was excited to be matched with him, as his expertise in Big Data and health-related applications of machine learning was a perfect fit for my UNOS dataset.”

University of Southern California’s Data Science Rotations for Advancing Discovery

“We’re very proud of Dursun and this significant recognition and accomplishment,” said Rick L. Wilson, OSU MSIS department head. “Dr. Delen is an international leader in the health analytics field and he exemplifies our department faculty’s nearly 30 years of significant contributions and excellence in both research and practice in data science and analytics.  OSU’s MSIS Department has made many significant contributions to the analytics field across many disciplines, and Dr. Delen is at the forefront of our innovative and impactful work.”