Print this page

UAB-led research team awarded second place in American Heart Association Data Challenge

  • July 15, 2022
Gargya Malla, M.D., Ph.D., used the UAB REGARDS study to evaluate the effect of living in a disadvantaged area on heart failure risk. She was awarded second place in a data challenge hosted by the American Heart Association® and the Association of Black Cardiologists.

Stream Ryals Public Health BuildingUAB Ryals Public Health Building
Photography: Bruce Southerland
Areas in the United States with more social vulnerabilities have higher premature mortality from cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association® and the Association of Black Cardiologists hosted a six-month data challenge in which researchers tested the relationships between heart failure and health disparities, social determinants of health and structural determinants of health.

A team of scientific researchers led by Gargya Malla, M.D., Ph.D., researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, received second place in the challenge after results were evaluated by a group of almost 30 experts in the field. The team investigated the association of incident heart failure risk with living in a disadvantageous neighborhood and whether this association was different for white and Black adults in the United States.

“Heart failure affects roughly 6 million adults in the U.S. every year, and Black adults are at higher risk than white adults,” said Malla, who participated in the data challenge while a doctoral candidate at the UAB School of Public Health. “Studies have shown that where people live can increase their risk for various conditions like diabetes and hypertension; however, few studies have explored whether this is true for heart failure.”

Health disparities can be secondary to environmental threats, individual and behavioral factors, inadequate access to health care, poverty, and educational inequalities. Social determinants of health include resources such as food supply, housing, economic and social relationships, education, and health care. Structural determinants of health include economic, governing and social policies that affect pay, working conditions, housing and education.

The team used the Precision Medicine Platform to investigate key questions around socioeconomic disparities and heart failure outcomes. The Precision Medicine Platform is an easy-to-use research interface that allows researchers to collaborate from anywhere in the world in a secure, cloud-based environment. With artificial intelligence and deep machine learning capabilities, the Precision Medicine Platform gives researchers the power and speed to bring their data together collaboratively and accelerate their findings into impactful discoveries for patients faster than ever before.

The research findings from all the winning studies are currently under consideration for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals and are not yet publicly available. Read more about the data challenge winners here.