Mei Liu

LiuBIG DATA: Healthcare Analytics
Assistant Professor of Computer Sciences

Mei Liu, a computer scientist who uses advanced informatics approaches to improve health care, will join the College of Computing Sciences as an assistant professor. Liu’s long-term research goal is to develop data-mining methodologies to uncover clinical knowledge from Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) that improves the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care. EMRs have created an unprecedented resource for observational studies as it contains not only detailed patient information but also large amounts of longitudinal clinical data. Despite the promise of EMR as a research tool, challenges exist for large-scale observational studies. Thus, it is highly desirable to develop effective and efficient computational methods to mine EMR data for conducting large-scale observational research.

Adverse drug reaction (ADR) for instance, is one of the major causes for failure in drug development. And severe ADRs that go undetected until the post-marketing phase of a drug often lead to patient morbidity, as exemplified by numerous drug withdrawals. Currently, she is leading three projects to simultaneously examine ADRs from different angles. First, she aims to predict ADRs from the chemical, biological, and phenotypic properties of drugs. Second, she uses laboratory and retrospective medication order data from EMR to ascertain ADRs. Third, she is exploring the use of natural language processing (NLP) techniques to extract adverse events from the narrative notes in EMR and correlate those events with medications through association mining. She is also interested in using patient medical records to build predictive models for diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

In addition, she plans to combine her experience in bioinformatics and clinical informatics to better understand how molecules function together in achieving a particular clinical outcome. For instance, she plans to utilize her knowledge in protein/gene interaction networks to study ADRs because a drug acts on a human body by inducing perturbations to biological systems, which involve various molecular interactions such as protein-protein interactions, signaling pathways, and pathways of drug action and metabolism. She’s especially interested in understanding gene-disease relationships; this understanding will assist in the designs of new drug and therapeutic treatments.

Liu has published numerous papers in top journals including Bioinformatics, PLoS One, and JAMIA (Journal of American Medical Informatics Association) and conferences such as AMIA (American Medical Informatics Association Annual Symposium).

She received her PhD in computer science with a research focus in bioinformatics from the University of Kansas in 2009. Her dissertation involved the development and optimization of data mining algorithms for understanding protein interactions and protein functions. Upon receiving her PhD, she was awarded the National Library of Medicine postdoctoral training fellowship in biomedical informatics, and completed the training in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University in 2012.