Jenna Wiens, assistant professor in Computer Science and Engineering, has been named a Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professor.
Prof. Wiens’ primary research is in the development of data-driven predictive models needed to help organize, process, and transform data into actionable knowledge. The main focus of her work is in harnessing information about patients to improve medical outcomes. Known as precision health, this approach is expected to help doctors to customize treatments to individual patients’ genetic makeup, lifestyle, and risk factors, and to predict outcomes with significantly higher accuracy.
In 2014, she led a project to develop a data-driven hospital-specific model for estimating the probability that an admitted patient would test positive for C. difficile, a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. C. difficile kills more than 14,000 people a year. It’s difficult to eradicate and is often transmitted to patients in hospital environments.
In 2016, Wiens (as a co-investigator) and research colleagues from Michigan Medicine were awarded a $9.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to tackle C. difficile as a government-backed effort to attack antibiotic resistant bacteria. They will spend the next four years studying this pathogen.
She is also an investigator at the Michigan Integrated Center for Health Analytics & Medical Prediction, which was awarded $1.25 million through the Michigan Institute for Data Science in 2017 to further develop medical prediction models that address complex clinical problems. As part of this center, Wiens seeks to increase the actionability and intelligibility of data-driven models in healthcare.
In addition to her work in healthcare, Wiens develops machine learning methods to extract strategically useful information from player tracking data in the National Basketball Association.
Wiens received her PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014 and joined the Michigan Engineering faculty that year. Her research is funded by the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. She received an NSF CAREER Award in 2016 and was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2015.
About the Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professorship
Michael P. Wellman, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, endowed the Morris Wellman Faculty Development Professorship in his grandfather’s name. Morris Wellman was an engineer who worked for most of his career as a civil servant of the City of New York. The professorship is awarded to junior faculty members in recognition of outstanding contributions to teaching and research.