With the support of our generous donors, QSC was able to sponsor our Master’s in Biomedical Informatics student Peyton Briand to attend the Crohn’s & Colitis Congress. The conference took place at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on January 25–27.
We asked Peyton about her experience presenting a poster at this prestigious event.
What drew you to study Biomedical Informatics?
I have a background in life sciences but wanted to shift gears following my undergrad and find a passion for research. When I discovered the BMIF program at Queen’s, I knew it was one that would help me find my place in research. I had a steep learning curve for the computing aspect of this degree, but the work I am doing with current clinical data is very exciting! I am working with Dr. Daniel Mulder at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre in the Gastrointestinal Disease Research Unit looking for undiscovered patterns in white blood cells of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Could you tell us a few words about your poster presentation in Las Vegas?
The title of my poster is “Routinely collected bloodwork reveals immune cell patterns that reflect disease activity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease”.
My project is using data from a local cohort of KHSC patients with IBD. The project is investigating white blood cell counts following routine blood collection. There is a subset called “the differential” that is commonly reported, yet its use is not well defined. By using machine learning techniques, we hope to build a better understanding of the connection between this subset and disease activity, and provide insight to a patient’s clinical presentation without requiring more invasive testing, like the endoscopy.
How did you find out about the Crohn’s & Colitis Congress and what made you decide to attend?
My supervisor, Dr. Mulder, encouraged me to submit an abstract to this conference and share our lab’s work and use of bioinformatics.
I received $700 from QSC to attend this event which covered majority of my travel expenses. While I was very excited to attend a conference and gain such invaluable experience and insight from others studying IBD, finances are always something I need to consider as a student. The sponsorship I received from the QSC relieved much anxiety regarding the expenses of this opportunity and made the decision to attend much easier to make!
How was your experience? Do you feel inspired to continue work in this field?
I had a great time at the Crohn’s and Colitis Congress! The congress did an excellent job hosting, and I was able to learn so much from experts in the field and make connections with research groups across North America. As a poster presenter, I was able to gain feedback from others with and without experience in computing to help me develop future directions for this project. I hope to continue developing models to learn more about our patients and improve the clinical experiences they have by using bioinformatic tools!