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Andrew Banooni

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

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I am a rising fourth year medical student (M.D. candidate) at Emory University School of Medicine. I obtained my BS in Biomedical Engineering at Yale in 2007.

Email: andrew [dot] banooni [at] emory [dot] edu

Main Interests

I am interested in the application of complex systems analysis to human physiology. More specifically, I intend to explore dynamic complexity as a marker of health.

The practice of medicine has long been an art of managing snapshots in time. Clinically, daily decisions are based on labs, x-rays, and ECGs. These studies work well to diagnose many acute illnesses, such as infections, fractures, and heart attacks. As clinicians, we focus on these isolated snapshots of single systems. Given technologic advances in data collection, storage, and analysis, we should be able to extract more information by considering the complex nature of health.

A central problem in medicine is the early recognition of illness. Health is not a single state but is dynamically complex in its robustness to physiologic stressors. Loss of robustness, or decomplexification, appears to forecast deterioration of health.

To date, assessments of robustness and outcome (APACHE scores, SOFA scores, etc) have been made largely through population statistics. I seek to find the earliest evidence of loss of robustness in individuals. In other words, I hope to explore the relationship between dynamic complexity and health in a single individual, and to use this information to make predictions about his or her outcome. Subtle disruption of physiologic complex systems may yield prognostic information helpful in early intervention and the design of novel treatment algorithms.

Side Interests

Outside of medical school, I have been known to sing in a cappella groups (on more than one occasion I have been likened to Andy Bernard from The Office), to cook, to watch obscure TV shows and movies, and to explore! I plan to drive to Santa Fe from Atlanta, if anyone is looking to carpool! I also look forward to hiking around Santa Fe with some of you!

Expertise

It seems I might bring a different background to the group. While I studied Biomedical Engineering in college, my expertise now lies in medicine. I have some programming experience in MATLAB, C++ and Scheme, and have a (rusty) knowledge of mathematics and physics from my engineering background. I can also speak five languages, but I assume I’ll be mostly speaking English. :)

Hopes for CSSS

After reading many of the other profiles on this wiki, I’m mostly excited about meeting and collaborating with you guys! Coming from a non-PhD background, I expect my time at CSSS to be a tremendous growth experience, and I hope to also bring a new perspective to the table. Also, I am excited to really dive in and learn about complex systems, as my current understanding is basic at best.

Project ideas

My first project in this domain is the analysis of treadmill stress-test electrocardiograms (ECGs). I have access to approximately 200 ECG tracings that I hope to analyze with many of the tools I learn while at CSSS. I’m very excited about this as one of many practical applications of dynamic analysis, but currently lack the theoretical expertise to really dive into it.