Third Cohort of Interns Joins DCRI-Duke Forge Health Data Science Internship Program

May 20, 2019

Earlier this year, the joint DCRI-Forge Health Data Science (HDS) Internship Program welcomed its third cohort of interns. The four Duke students chosen for the program are pursuing master’s degrees in fields ranging from biostatistics and bioinformatics to statistical science and biomedical engineering.

The HDS Internship Program is an innovative partnership between the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which manages the students and administers the internships, and Duke Forge, which convenes and catalyzes the projects they work on during their time at Duke. The program began in May 2017 with an initial group of six students enrolled in quantitative master’s programs at Duke and is now in its third cohort of interns.

“We're pleased to welcome the newest cohort of interns and excited about the continued success of the internship program,” said Lisa Wruck, PhD, director of the Center for Predictive Medicine at the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Over the 17-month internship program, each HDS intern is paired with a statistical mentor, most of whom are from the from the DCRI’s Center for Predictive Medicine, works under the direction of a quantitative faculty member, and receives dedicated programming in professional development, providing them with unique opportunities to further cultivate their talent and interests. Interns become contributing members of transdisciplinary teams on cutting-edge health data science projects.

“The students are very important to our projects,” said Ricardo Henao, PhD, principal data scientist for the Forge and assistant professor in biostatistics and bioinformatics, and electrical and computer engineering. “As they learn and apply their knowledge, they are also contributing to health data science.”

Meet the 2019-2020 HDS Interns

Jingyu Su, Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Class of 2020

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Jingyu Su obtained his dual bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer system engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York. During his undergraduate studies, Jingyu was exposed to the concept of pattern recognition and has been drawn to the field of data science ever since. Being project-oriented, he found a staggering sense of accomplishment in applying his data science skills to real-world projects. He believes the HDS internship program will be a great opportunity, allowing him to work with the industry and get his hands on raw, real-world data sets that are not over-processed. Jingyu is currently focusing on applying deep learning methods to segmenting and classifying prostate MRIs for patients suspected of having cancer. Over the course of this project and his HDS internship, Jingyu will not only gain insight into technical aspects of data science, but will also acquire necessary communication and collaboration skills. In the future, he hopes to make a real, tangible difference in the data science industry.

Xinghong Tang, Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering, Class of 2020

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Xinghong Tang received her undergraduate degree from UCLA, majoring in materials science and engineering. While working in a bio-lab during her undergraduate studies where researchers performed numerous laborious tasks manually, Xinghong realized that being a programmer offered more appealing opportunities to her than pursuing a career in engineering. After a two-month internship at Siemens Healthineers in Shanghai, China, the summer after graduating from UCLA, Xinghong observed that the medical industry is in need of talented experts in both biomedical engineering and programming, and that data science is the bridge between the two. In her first semester at Duke, Xinghong took courses in R and Python as well as computational neuroengineering, from which she became increasingly interested in health data science projects. She believes the unique opportunity of being an HDS intern will provide her hands-on experience in health-related prediction using machine learning techniques.

Zixi Wang, Master of Science in Statistical Science, Class of 2020

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Before coming to Duke, Zixi obtained his bachelor’s degree in statistics from Renmin University of China. His interest in data goes back to when he was in high school, where for a business competition; he used data to build a winning nonlinear regression model. During his undergraduate study, he built a solid foundation in statistics, machine learning and programming. He has a passion for applying cutting-edge models to real-life problems, finding patterns and seeking values in and from data. Currently, Zixi is working on the “Drug Diversion” project as part of his HDS internship, which involves variable length data, abnormality detection, and clustering. During the course of the internship, Zixi is not only developing his programming skills and machine learning knowledge but also polishing his communication and teamwork skills. He believes the HDS program will provide him professional research opportunities, which will serve as an invaluable asset in the future.

Jikai Zhang, Master of Biostatistics, Class of 2020

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Jikai obtained his undergraduate degree from Penn State, double majoring in computational mathematics and computing statistics. From his experiences in Datafest events and in an internship where he completing a statistical analysis project, Jikai became interested in using mathematical, statistical and machine learning methods to solve real-world problems. Jikai learned about the HDS internship program through communications with Duke’s Biostatistics and Bioinformatics department. With his growing interest in health data, Jikai is eager to learn novel methods and obtain valuable experiences as part of a project team during his time at Duke. He is currently working on a machine learning project that uses natural language processing methods to identify the presence of a disease based on clinical notes. This challenging project is a great opportunity for Jikai to learn contemporary machine learning methods as well as to communicate with Duke faculty members from various departments. Jikai believes that the experiences he will gain in the HDS internship program will lead him to succeed in pursuing a career in data science and machine learning.