Improving health with data

Raju wins alumni award recognizing excellence in education; uses data mining techniques to improve health
By Laura Lesley

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Assistant Professor Dheeraj Raju, PhD, received The James E. McLean Excellence in Education Award from the University of Alabama College of Education. The award was presented at the College’s alumni awards ceremony held Oct. 13, 2017.

Raju holds
Master’s degrees in industrial engineering and applied statistics, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in quantitative methods in educational research. His expertise focuses on data mining, predictive modeling, instrument design, psychometric analysis, multivariate statistics, research design and applied statistics, and in the School he uses data mining techniques to effectively extract useful information in nursing and health sciences research. 

Raju Award RTDr. Dheeraj Raju, left, with Dr. James E. McLean, retired dean of the University of Alabama College of Education and namesake of the award recently presented to Raju.Raju is currently working on grants as a statistician or co-investigator on a number of projects, including the impact of nursing on readmissions, failure to rescue and mortality in Department of Defense hospitals, nutrition in U.S. Army soldiers, and postcoital DNA recovery in minority couples. His previous grant work concentrated on cancer prevention and control training, improvements in practice environments at hospitals to improve adverse events, improving quality of life for breast cancer survivors, improving nursing education and improving dietary patterns in head and neck cancer survivors. 

“The data mining methods I teach are driven by machine learning algorithms and high-powered computing,” Raju said. “By applying these techniques, we can help clinicians, nurses, and hospital staff to make informed decisions in improving many aspects of health care system.”


He
has authored or co-authored 26 peer-reviewed journal articles in the areas of nursing, medicine, health sciences, education, business and engineering. 

Raju also supervises students on quantitative data analysis for publications in high impact journals and presentations, oversees the design and assists in statistical and methods sections for student grant proposals, serves as a dissertation committee member and supervises the statistical techniques implemented in analyses required for a successful completion, and administers mock reviews on grant proposals and provides feedback for successful acceptance.

In addition, he teaches both the basic and advanced statistics courses in the School’s PhD program, the only one in the state. 

“I am implementing contemporary statistical techniques in the doctoral curriculum, including a state-of-the-art data mining/big data course in nursing and health sciences,” Raju said. “Overall, I want to prepare students to be statistically savvy so they can make substantial contributions as nurse scientists.


“Now, more than ever before, we are collecting vast volumes of health care data, and the data doesn’t automatically transform itself into meaningful information. Traditional statistical techniques are sometimes restricted, which is when data mining techniques come into play.”


Raju’s teaching expertise also recently was recognized at the UAB School of Nursing’s annual “State of the School” event for faculty and staff where he received the Didactic Teaching Award for the 2016-2017 academic year.


In addition to his role at the UAB School of Nursing, Raju holds appointments in the UAB School of Medicine, the UAB Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and Education, and in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Last modified on March 22, 2019

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