Sana Syed, MD, MS

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Sana Syed, MD

Our ability to innovatively interweave mathematics, engineering and, computer and data science in medicine portends enormous potential change for our collective future health. A specific area of application lies in the use of machine learning for pattern recognition in pathology and endoscopy based gastrointestinal disease diagnoses. Enormous explosion of ‘omic and digitized data has enabled us to develop robust models exploring gut structure and function. There still remains a gap in childhood digestive diseases for such technological advancements where across diseases there is an increasing appreciation of the early incidence and onset of digestive diseases.

I am a Translational Clinical Scientist with a background in pediatrics, gastroenterology, global health/ epidemiology, and data science. I also hold an adjunct faculty appointment at the Aga Khan University, in Karachi, Pakistan. My overarching research interest is to use machine learning to study big data in gastroenterology. In this context, I study gut structure and function in children with various inflammatory enteropathies such celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease here in the US ,and environmental enteropathy (global health) to drive innovations in possible treatment and management modalities.

My lab’s work over the last several years has centered around the use of Machine Learning/ Artificial Intelligence methods to study patterns of disease in small bowel biopsies. We initially received seed funding from two UVA specific mechanisms (Engineering in Medicine, iThrive scholar) and recent career development funding from the NIH – NIDDK (K23 DK117061). I co-direct the Gut Intelligence Lab which is a multi-disciplinary team of medical professionals, data scientists and engineers geared towards exploring and solving questions related to gut structure and function. Our overall aim is to challenge and seek to shift clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning based methods to innovatively contribute to the field of medicine – particularly pediatric gastroenterology.

Our global health work has involved studying and quantifying tissue patterns of inflammation using archival biopsies from children with environmental enteropathy and those with celiac disease from low-middle countries. The goal is to understand disease phenotypes and geo-spatial differences via assessment of cellular disease patterns and their association with clinical metadata including transcriptomics.

From mentee to mentor: Dr. Sana Syed's journey
Giving every child an equal chance to thrive