‘Our Job is to Save Lives’

The challenges of ailing children live in the medical datasets Louis Ehwerhemuepha scours every day. It’s his job to find and nurture the hope.

As data scientist for CHOC Children’s hospital, Ehwerhemuepha (M.S. ’13, Ph.D. ’15) discovers clues to why the health of some patients deteriorated. Then he and his colleagues develop predictive tools to help protect those at risk of similar decline.

Louis Ehwerhemuepha (M.S. ’13, Ph.D. ’15)

“The opportunity to improve the care of children is at the heart of everything we do,” says Ehwerhemuepha, one of the first graduates of Chapman University’s Ph.D. program in computational and data sciences. “Whether we’re on the floor providing care or working with the data, our job is to save lives.”

Advances in care are built on collaboration across all roles at CHOC, Ehwerhemuepha says.

“You don’t just run statistical data and get great discoveries,” adds William Feaster, M.D., chief health information officer for CHOC. “We take the knowledge of patient care and marry it with data science. That marriage is what’s important.”

Teamwork inspires Ehwerhemuepha, a native of Nigeria who was an Allergan scholar at Chapman. During his graduate studies, he began working with Dr. Anthony Chang as the CHOC cardiologist advanced his own knowledge of data science. Ehwerhemuepha even tutored Feaster and three other physicians, helping them pass their board exams in clinical informatics.

“During my 36 years of practice, (data science) is not something I had an opportunity to participate in until we met Louis and began to see the power of it,” Feaster says.

In the past year alone, Ehwerhemuepha and Feaster have collaborated on four papers for medical and academic journals. In addition, Ehwerhemuepha meets weekly with Chapman Professor Cyril Rakovski, Ph.D., working on innovations in both the theoretical and applied sides of data science.

“Even as a student, he presented in front of big international conferences, and that impressed me,” Rakovski says of Ehwerhemuepha. “His work strengthens our connection to CHOC. He’s a great asset for both institutions.”

This story appeared in the winter 2018 issue of Chapman Now. 

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Dennis Arp

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