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Vivek Shukla, M.D., a neonatologist in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine and a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) Career Development Award for his innovative project, titled: "Machine Learning Modeling for Early Identification of Perinatal Depression Risk Using Cardiotocography."

The AHA Career Development Award recognizes early-career researchers who have demonstrated significant potential in research that aligns with the AHA's mission of being "A Relentless Force for a World of Longer, Healthier Lives." The award will be active until March 2026.

Working in the lab of ECE Associate Professor Arie Nakhmani, Ph.D., Shukla is conducting research that could significantly impact the field of perinatal medicine by identifying the risk of perinatal depression in pregnant women using a non-invasive fetal heart rate and intrauterine pressure monitoring technology known as Cardiotocography (CTG). He aims to develop a machine-learning model that can accurately predict the risk of perinatal depression and prevent fetal-neonatal morbidity and mortality.

"Perinatal depression, a leading cause of fetal-neonatal mortality and morbidity worldwide, is often caused by unrecognized fetal hypoxia and distress," says Shukla. "Early identification of perinatal depression risk can help prevent subsequent fetal-neonatal morbidity and mortality. However, high inter-observer variability and ambiguity limit accurate clinical interpretation of fetal status by CTG monitoring. The current project aims to leverage Artificial Intelligence to build and rigorously validate various conventional and advanced machine learning models to address this knowledge gap. Using the best-identified predictive model, our team will build a clinically useful risk prediction tool for perinatal depression."

Shukla's research has the potential to transform the field of perinatal medicine, improving the health outcomes of pregnant women and their newborns. His work has already gained recognition in the medical community, with his research published in several prestigious academic journals, including the Journal of American Medical Association and Pediatrics. He also serves as a reviewer for several reputable journals and conferences. "He is committed to leveraging his expertise to improve pregnancy and childhood health outcomes," says Nakhmani, "and his work has positioned him as a promising leader in the intersection of medicine and engineering."