Researchers Work to Develop Lymphedema Website Database

  Chi-Ren Shyu
  Chi-Ren Shyu

University of Missouri researchers are developing a place in cyberspace
where relevant and timely information regarding lymphedema can be easily
stored, searched, and reviewed from anywhere with the goal of improving health
care through the availability of up-to-date, evidence-based research.

“We want to bring researchers, medical professionals and care
providers together to improve patients’ health,” Chi-Ren Shyu, principal
investigator for the project and director of the University of Missouri (MU)
Informatics Institute, stated in a press release. “Merging all of the data
into one virtual space and discovering clinically significant knowledge from
the haystacks of data will make cutting-edge research and treatments available
to patients sooner.”

Currently, people looking for information about lymphedema treatment
have to visit dozens of medical websites or consult a best practices document,
which has not been updated since 2006. The new system will enable immediate
access to data, best practices, literature and research from around the world
as it is posted online, all in a single, searchable online database.

“The cyber-infrastructure, once complete, can be applied to other
diseases and chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular
disease,” Shyu stated. “Potential users include researchers, medical
professionals, social workers, patients and their families.”

Shyu and his informatics team from the College of Engineering are
working with Jane Armer, professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and
director of the American Lymphedema Framework Project, housed at MU’s Ellis
Fischel Cancer Center. Their research is funded by a 3-year grant awarded by
the National Library of Medicine Applied Informatics Program.

In 3 years, Shyu and Armer plan to complete a system that automatically
will pull research findings and new information from scientific journals and
association websites through an automated data mining procedure. Shyu has an
agreement with selected health care facilities throughout the country to
provide real-time, anonymous patient data so practitioners can understand how
patients in different areas of the country are affected by lymphedema and its

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