DOWNINGTOWN, PA — Two high school seniors from the Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) Brandywine Campus’ Allied Health program are using their passion for the medical field to make a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Neha Potla, a senior from Unionville High School, co-wrote two papers that have been published in scientific journals within the past year. Her most recent paper, which was published in the International Journal of Emergency Medicine, is a systematic review regarding stroke and thrombolytics in the brain. Potla worked with Dr. Latha Ganti, a professor at the University of Central Florida and specialist in stroke and emergency medicine, to conduct case studies of one of Ganti’s patients. “Dr. Ganti and I collaborated over the course of one year and were able to dissect information, review biases and get to the core of the patient’s story,” she said, adding, “The patient was not properly diagnosed for nearly 12 years, so we reached out to her and made her aware of what we were doing. With the systematic review on thrombolytics we conducted, we were able to figure out that a new medication was more effective than the one she was taking. We’re hoping that our findings will impact the medical field in terms of what medication is prioritized for these patients.”
The systematic review written by Potla and Dr. Ganti can be found by visiting: https://intjem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12245-021-00399-w
Her other paper, which she also co-wrote with Dr. Ganti, is a case study about a 53-year-old postmenopausal woman who had pelvic congestion syndrome, a chronic condition that typically affects premenopausal females who have given birth to multiple children. The paper discusses the symptoms and findings shown on computed tomography (CT) and ultrasonography and it examines the causes the prognosis. The full paper can be viewed here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8463039/
Potla is currently in the process of applying to and interviewing for medical school at multiple universities and hopes to attend Brown University in the fall. “Initially, I was thinking about going into nephrology, but TCHS’ Allied Health program has opened my eyes to a lot more opportunities because I’m able to shadow doctors in different departments each week. The program also provides experience beyond just medicine. I’m learning about biomedical engineering and chemistry and have the opportunity to shadow doctors in labs as well,” said Potla.
Pranitha Anoor, a senior from Henderson High School, wrote an article that has been accepted for publication in the National High School Journal of Science (NHSJS). The article discusses the algorithm she created that can help detect brain tumors much earlier from MRI scans.
“What inspired me to conduct this research was a misdiagnosis of my mother’s gallbladder. It amazed me that the technology that was used in her diagnosis wasn’t advanced and so I decided that I wanted to use AI to help detect abnormal findings from scans,” said Anoor, adding, “I really want to pursue computer science with medicine, so I decided to research some professors I could work with and learn from and ended up reaching out to Dr. Young Min Kwon, a poultry scientist at the University of Arkansas. He asked me to build a data profile of salmonella circle, a common virus in poultry. I developed a Python code, a high-level, general-purpose programming language, to help him visualize the mutation frequencies, which helped him develop better treatments for the poultry.”
This project with Dr. Kwon inspired Anoor to conduct her own research project this past summer. She decided to take courses in AI in medicine and learned how to use AI in diagnosis, prognosis and treatments. “I wanted to find glioma tumors, tumors that occur in the brain and spinal cord, from brain MRI scans, so I developed a deep learning algorithm using Python. The algorithm took a brain MRI scan, focused in on each pixel and showed the abnormalities with it. I took a lot of data from places like Kaggle Public Data and fed it into the algorithm, then trained, validated and tested it. I saw a splatter of blue, red and green, which was the tumor, and was just so amazed that you can use AI to detect such a minute thing.” She added, “This could have helped detect what was wrong with my mother’s gallbladder much sooner.”
The article is scheduled to be published soon on NHSJS’ website: https://nhsjs.com/.
When asked how the Allied Health program is beneficial for students interested in the medical field, Anoor said, “I like how broad the program is. You don’t necessarily need to shadow only doctors. You shadow nurses, social workers or technicians, too. It really encompasses all of the options you have in the future and helps give you an idea about where you want to go to college and what you want to pursue.”
Anoor is also in the process of applying to and interviewing for various medical schools and hopes to attend Brown University upon graduation this June. “I really enjoy coding and medicine, and Brown University has this major called Computational Biology, which incorporates biology and computer science together. I’ll be really excited if I get into this program!”
To learn more about TCHS Brandywine or its Allied Health program, visit: www.cciu.org/tchsbrandywine.
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