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Department Highlights

Sarma promoted to associate director of ICM

October 5, 2017

Sri Sarma

It’s been less than one month since biomedical engineering associate professor Sridevi Sarma was promoted to associate director of the Institute for Computational Medicine, and she’s already got big plans.

For one, Sarma is looking to launch a Computational and Translational Medicine Training Program for postdoctoral fellows. “Computational medicine is a field that tries to use computational modeling to understand differences in health and disease and to predict efficacy of treatments, but it’s a very long cycle to actually translate models to the clinic,” she explains. “PhD students get trained in building these models, or going from data to models to retrospective studies, but it usually stops there. I want to establish a training opportunity to complete the translational cycle, activities like going to the Food and Drug Administration, getting a device exemption, executing a clinical trial, and reporting your results in a peer-reviewed journal.”

When postdoctoral students join the Johns Hopkins program, Sarma says, the idea is they will be matched by interest to an existing clinical trial in progress. “The hope is that it will give clinicians running their studies that computational arm to make sure the study goes smoothly and has the appropriate quantitative analysis, but it also will give our postdoc immediate access to participate in a clinical study.” She plans to apply for federal funding from the National Institutes of Health and also seeks external funds.

Another initiative Sarma would like to lead is fund-raising for the institute. “ICM is the first of its kind for computational medicine,” she says. “We built a great group of faculty but haven’t spent much effort into looking for external funding. I’d like to have individual donors or industry come in and partner with us to support ICM and its efforts.”

Sarma joined Johns Hopkins University in 2009 as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and ICM core faculty; she was promoted to associate professor in 2016. Her research combines modeling, estimation, and control of dynamical systems with neurophysiology. She has developed a novel computational tool, EZTrack, which quickly and accurately identifies the seizure focus or epileptogenic zone (EZ) from hundreds of noninvasive EEG recordings with 95% accuracy. Sarma also studies the ways in which physiological monitoring data collected from patients in critical care units can be used to identify patients whose condition is likely to deteriorate, thereby opening a window of intervention that may save their lives.

– Karen Blum