Ricky Savjani_TL1 Trainee

On November 8, Ricky Savjani, MD, PhD, former CTSI TL1 post-doctoral trainee (2022 Cohort) and current assistant professor in radiation oncology, was awarded an honorable mention at the 2023 Fall CTSA Program Annual Meeting poster session for his poster "Clinical Informatics for Head and Cancer Patient Management." Posters were presented on day two of the three-day national event, hosted by NCATS, to showcase the innovative work of early career CTSA program researchers as it relates to leveraging real world data (RWD) and artificial intelligence (AI) to advance translation.

Dr Savjani's poster explores the use of clinical informatics to improve diagnostics, treatment and surveillance for head and neck cancer patients at UCLA. Support received through the CTSI post-doctoral TL1 Program was instrumental in advancing his research. "CTSI helped us to extract all electronic health records from head and neck cancer patients treated with radiation from March 2013 to April 2023," he remarks. "These records gave us the ability to conduct large data analyses to interrogate the impact of certain diagnostics, therapeutic, and surveillance approaches we us clinically."  In addition to TL1 grant funding, and dedicated biostatistical support from CTSI biostatistician Myung-Shin Sim, PhD, CTSI enabled data extraction into ULEAD (Unified Learning Environment for Analytics & Data), a cloud-based platform that allowed Savjani and team to conduct their big data analyses. "This entire approach would not be possible at this scale without access to digitized EMR records that CTSI provided," says Savjani.

Since completing his residency in radiation oncology at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine (2023), Dr. Savjani is enthusiastic to stay on as faculty. He credits the CTSI TL1 Program for aiding him in navigating his transition. "I received a post-doc TL1 grant that not only enabled me to do this research as a resident but also helped me to transition into a faculty position here at UCLA in radiation oncology," he says.

As for what's next on his research agenda, Dr. Savjani is in the process of submitting manuscripts on his research findings, and is excited to continue exploring the intersections of big data, AI and healthcare. "I would like to train large language models (LLM) on our data," Savjani says, "and work with CTSI to see if we can install GPUs in our desktop environments to enable this." 

View Dr. Savjani's poster on the NCATS Coordination, Communication and Operations Support (CCOS) photo gallery

Image source: UCLA Health