April 22, 2024

New precision health program enables personalized care

UCalgary program empowers physicians to increase access to life-saving care
A man in a tie sits in a doctors office
Family physician Umaru Ahmadu-Ali at his practice in Calgary. DeAnna Kweens, Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute

Everyone’s busy these days. Between balancing work and home life, it’s understandable there aren’t many extra hours to pursue activities beyond those that are necessary. But when someone wants to expand their skills, their education, their mind, sometimes the right opportunity shows itself.

Such is the case for Dr. Umaru Ahmadu-Ali, MD, a family physician and part-time lecturer in family medicine in the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). Ahmadu-Ali is also a master’s student of the University of Calgary’s Precision Health Program (PHP), a laddered program which includes a certificate, a diploma and, ultimately, a master’s degree.

A family physician who co-owns and operates a practice not far from UCalgary’s Foothills campus, Ahmadu-Ali learned about the program during COVID. 

During the pandemic, I was doing some work with a virtual medicine platform,” Ahmadu-Ali explains.  During periodic reviews with his clinician supervisor, he learned about the new Precision Heath Program. “I promptly applied, and my then-supervisor and I are currently classmates.”

The PHP is designed for working professionals and is focused on meeting the professional development needs of health-care practitioners. The program supports role integration in areas such as advanced clinical skills, data science and organizational leadership, to impact patient, provider and health system outcomes.

Ahmadu-Ali is working with Dr. Morris Scantlebury, MD, an associate professor in Paediatrics and Clinical Neurosciences and a member of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. Scantlebury founded a company in 2021, Nyota Tano Diagnostics, to bring both diagnostic equipment and skills training to underserved parts of the world for children and adults experiencing seizures.

In working with Scantlebury, Ahmadu-Ali has focused his PHP work on building a framework for precision-health electronic records, allowing for the integration of granular precision-health data. Future research will employ artificial intelligence (AI) to provide clinical decision support for clinicians consulting remotely, either locally or from anywhere in the world. 

“My project with Nyota Tano Diagnostics dovetails perfectly with my values and aspirations,” says Ahmadu-Ali. “It is indeed a thing of pride that the University of Calgary has afforded me this opportunity and that it has a faculty that is supportive and can see the big picture.

“Precision health is the natural evolution of evidence-based medicine,” he continues. “The explosive developments in the fields of genomics, metabolomics, pharmacogenomics, microbiomics, data analytics, and computing are making the aspiration of P4 medicine (predictive, preventive, participatory and personalized) a reality.”

Umaru Ahmadu-Ali sees the real need for more family physicians developing their capacity in precision health and is pleased that he has been able to work with Scantlebury while he maintains his practice. He recognizes Scantlebury’s efforts to bring positive change to the underserved. 

“This is about bringing the promise of precision health to the global south,” he says. “The fun part is that this (AI-enabled precision health records) has never been done before. We are pioneers.”

UCalgary Graduate Science Education Precision Health Program
The Precision Health Program blends online delivery that ensures the program is accessible to professionals across Canada, the U.S. and the world. Students can choose from four specializations that are designed to enhance their potential as health-care leaders in the areas of precision medicine, quality and safety, health professional education, and innovation and entrepreneurship. For more information visit ucalgary.ca/precision-health

Application Deadline: May 31, 2024

Child Health and Wellness
UCalgary is driving science and innovation to transform the health and well-being of children and families. Led by the ACHRI, top scientists across the campus are partnering with Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and our community to create a better future for children through research.

One Child Every Child
One Child Every Child is a Canada-first research and translation initiative funded by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, with a vision for all Canadian children to be the healthiest, most empowered and thriving in the world. Led by the ACHRI at UCalgary, One Child Every Child brings together Indigenous partners, Canada’s child-health research institutes, equity-deserving communities, local and national stakeholders, as well as global collaborators to dramatically improve the lives of children across Canada and beyond.

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