Jovan Julien, a second-year Ph.D. student in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), has been awarded the prestigious Lee B. Lusted Prize by the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM).
“The Lee B. Lusted Student Prize recognizes and supports outstanding young researchers in medical decision-making and health policy research areas,” said Julien’s advisor Turgay Ayer, ISyE George Family Foundation Early Career Professor and associate professor. “In that regard, Jovan’s research in mathematical modeling for projecting prevalence and mortality trends in alcohol-related liver disease is an exemplary work, showcasing excellent use of mathematical modeling for addressing a pressing health policy problem.”
Julien received his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Brown University. He came to ISyE specifically to study with Ayer in order to discover “what implementable policies can generally help improve the wellness of people,” Julien said. “And a side benefit of that is that it might control health care costs.”
For his study on cirrhosis of the liver, Julien is conducting a meta-analysis using nationally representative surveys of when people start drinking and how much they consume, including the National Institute of Health’s National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. In particular, he has noted that the generation between 24-35 years in age are experiencing the greatest increase in relative risk for developing alcoholic liver cirrhosis. What’s more, the number of young women versus the number of young men in that age range who are high-risk drinkers has risen significantly from 3:1 to 2:1. Using this research, Julien hopes to develop a model that provides behavior recommendations that help people understand the risk of developing cirrhosis based on how much they have been drinking.
“This award shows that I am on the right path, that I am conducting research that will be useful,” said Julien. “Georgia Tech is a rigorous institution that provides many challenges, so this award is particularly useful in confirming that the work I am doing is paying.”
In the next few years of his Ph.D. research, Julien hopes to continue developing the cirrhosis model, as well as to build models of other diseases so health care workers and policymakers can understand the progression of disease trends. He’s particularly interested in identifying policies and practices that individuals can implement so that wellness and longevity are being promoted.
In the case of cirrhosis, he noted that “if you’ve built an effective model, you can look at what interventions look like both in terms of preventative care and also in terms of promoting health care. For cirrhosis, as with most complex problems, finding an equitable solution involves both preventative care and dealing with the fact that many people have been drinking a lot for a long time.”
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering