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Leeds Receives VA Research Award for AI, Housing Study

May 21, 2024

Ira Leeds, MD, FACS, FASCRS, recently received the Association of VA Surgeons (AVAS) Faculty Research Award to study the relationship between housing instability and surgical outcomes using artificial intelligence (AI) methods. Leeds is currently assistant professor of surgery (colon and rectal) and of biomedical informatics and data science at Yale School of Medicine.

Leeds’ study, titled “Assessing the impact of housing instability among veterans on complications of major surgery,” will assess whether housing instability affects negative surgical outcomes among U.S. veterans. Housing instability, which affects over 30,000 U.S. veterans, can include trouble paying rent, overcrowding, substandard living conditions, and homelessness in its most extreme form, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These experiences, which disproportionately affect Black and Indigenous populations, negatively impact health outcomes and pose barriers to accessing medical care.

The study team plans to use traditional measures of housing status as well as AI methods, such as natural language processing (NLP), to analyze electronic health records (EHR) data. By comparing these methods, the research team hopes to improve how providers identify housing instability and patient risk, allowing social support mechanisms to better target risk factors for patients undergoing surgical care.

“Using AI-based natural language processing to identify housing status will facilitate more efficient targeting interventions in and around the time of surgical care to mitigate psychosocial risk factors,” said Leeds.

The study team also includes Cynthia Brandt, MD, MPH, professor of biomedical informatics and data science, Amy Justice, MD, PhD, C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine (General Medicine) and professor of biomedical informatics and data science, and Joseph King Jr, MD, MSCE, FAANS, associate professor of neurosurgery and chief of neurosurgery at VA Connecticut Healthcare System.

The AVAS Faculty Research Award is available to members of the Association of VA Surgeons who completed their post-graduate training within the last seven years.

The award offers $25,000 for one year.

Submitted by Akio Tamura-Ho on May 16, 2024