Understanding long-COVID and its treatments: why the world is still waiting

As the ongoing war against Covid-19 continues in communities around the globe, a cadre of innovative researchers looks to “Big Data” to unlock the mystery of the virus and seek ways to combat its most devastating impacts. The biggest issue remains organ damage and organ failure. When SARS-CoV-2 interacts with comorbidities in the human body, long-term damage or death is possible.

Sahil Sethi, a doctoral student and researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center leverages the power of biomedical informatics to learn more about Covid-19’s design and interaction with the human body’s organs and systems. What is biomedical informatics? The American Medical Informatics Association notes that biomedical informatics “applies theories and processes to help generate, store, retrieve, use and share biomedical data by advancing computing, communication and information science as it applies to biomedicine.” Informatics is all about data. For Sahil and other informatics experts, the goal is to develop links between data-driven research and the pervasive medical challenges that diminish well-being. Biomedical informatics uses technology to gather, curate, and analyze data sets that can lead to breakthroughs that improve the quality of life for everyone.

For Sethi, the key to mitigating the worst outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection is to understand how the virus exacerbates the impacts of comorbidities, damaging the body at the cellular level. Sethi is laser-focused on mining and analyzing data gleaned from the catastrophic system failures associated with severe disease. What can the data tell us about disease progression and why it is far more severe in persons with specific comorbidities?

Of course, Sethi undertakes his informatics work with a cohort of like-minded researchers. Together, these “data experts” apply machine learning (ML) to analyze the data retrieved in the deep dive into Covid-19 day. At the end of the day, these talented researchers hope to play a role in the development of medical interventions and therapies, and medicines that pause or reverse the most devastating impacts of the virus.

Sahil Sethi spent over five years conducting research in bioinformatics before beginning his doctoral studies at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. A gifted scientist, Sethi is particularly interested in the intersection of cellular biology and machine learning. Some of his most interesting work looks at the efficacy of the at-home Covid-19 test kits available at many retailers. Sethi understands that data can make the various tests more sensitive and, ultimately, more useful for consumers.

As Covid-19 lingers, Sahil Sethi and the “Data Champions” of biomedical informatics are delivering hope in the form of data. Their discoveries power the innovations that keep us all moving forward.