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The astrophysicist and immunologist who've dropped everything for COVID19 - Science Interrupted Part 2



So most of what I did was a combination of data software and statistics. This is astrophysicist. Dr Sam Hinton from the University of Queensland in January Hey submitted his PhD so I worked on Supernova cosmology and that's essentially taking exploding stars somewhere in the universe and using that to figure out how far away they and once you figure out how far away something is and how bright it is you can try and map out the history of the universe. Obviously things that are further away are further back in time because it takes time to get to us so the idea was if we can map out the last fourteen billion years of the universe ended expansion that hopefully we can try and characterize the nature of dark energy and dark Meta. That's my main eight right and obviously that's a problem. That's all about modeling and Statistics. So I created Asian hierarchical models and other sorts of models try and encapsulate all the nitty gritty details. That happened in the universe. In some statistically robust way so just a little way project just a tiny one that managed to consume years of my life. And whether that's because I just wasn't smart enough or whether it turns out that the Hamid actually really is complicated. Well I have opinions on both if only I was smarter. And if only the universe was simpler okay so taking on the entire history of the entire universe right there. So how is this? Astrophysicist and software engineer now suddenly found himself working on another big but totally different problem. The cove nineteen pandemic today on the show too young scientists who have had to rapidly retrofit and translate talents in an unprecedented moment in history. Sam Foreign doesn't shy away from a challenge. If he's name sounds familiar to you. That means you might be a fan of this stamp. Tonight's GonNa play out that I wanted to crunch the numbers for this other man to do it. There's computer I don't know if he's going to go hunt. I didn't even know. Cross was going to play his idol. New Sam was a popular contestant in the twenty eighth season of survivor Australia but bravado aside what use is an astrophysicist in fighting a global pandemic after all as far as we know now corona virus has made it into space yet and that's a relief as poor people on the International Space Station. There's no ICU. Up there what essentially happened was once I started getting serious. Everyone just put out feeling the same. We need help looking at a whole bunch of these tasks and this happened at Uku. Enriches where I work and through the grapevine. People said. We're looking for someone with all these skills and then Sam supervisor happens to be the acclaimed dark energy astrophysicist and TV presenter Professor Tamra Davis She's also passionate about astrophysics people using their research knowledge and skills in non astrophysics domains. So Tamra put Sam's name Ford The first thing was surely there are people that are better suited than me and salmon just accepted a job offer in the US at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. That's a big deal. But when Sam was told more he went back to Tamra and said. Are you all right if I just take months off from my actual normal astrophysics project to work on? This and her response was absolutely fine. Don't worry about it. We'll figure something out. Get on the project and do what you can. It was there was no chance that I was telling this down. It was a way to make a real contribution and astrophysics You know we don't make significant contributions every day to society we may every now and then invent something like the digital camera and was like yes. This is amazing but covet is a right here right now. One hundred percent immediate problem so there was absolutely no hesitation jumping into it so just like that. In a matter of moments Sam's life has suddenly turned upside down. Oh yeah if I thought I had long hours before. There's nothing like the current hours that we have to deal with. Sam is now the lead daughter analyst on a really crucial international project rolling out in real time in intensive care units across the world during this pandemic. And if you've seen the footage coming out of those units you'll know that this is a hellish frontier and what we need damage. Dice seeing young patients patients people of all age ranges. Who are just incredibly sick. And you can even hear now as. I'm walking through patient rooms in the hallway. It just your oxygen the sound of the pulse ox this ventilator later. Dan has joined. What's called ECO car? The global project headed up by trail-blazing intensive care specialist professor John Fraser from Prince. Charles Hospital in Brisbane AIKMAN COD is a mighty Akron Rod. It stands for Extra Corp. membrane oxygenation for twenty nine thousand nine novel Corona Virus Acute Respiratory Disease a card so when your heart and lungs can't do the job of oxygenating your blood and it. Komo machine allows that to happen outside. If you body. We want to know essentially. How can we best help as many people as possible? So we have very finite resources with this outbreak. We don't have an infinite amount of nurses doctors and ventilation equipment that we can just put everyone on so we need to know. Hey if if patient x comes through the door and they look like this but is the best sort of ventilation can give them if we just give them a mosque. Are they going to be fine or is this a patient that needs something more severe because a nurse can generally do around ten c-pap mosques so the very easy ventilation but if they have to actually mechanically ventilate someone help out the longest mechanically and it's essentially one nurse per patient and we don't have that many nurses when we have so many patients coming in so we really want to be able to say when someone walks in the door that they're probably going to need this outcome will be x? Y. Depend however retreat them. So when someone comes in we take the age we take their weight and then we need to know what other things do have do. They have high blood pressure Do they have diabetes? Are they smoke I? What is the condition of their lungs? There's so many things so many different data points that you can gather in the medical world ten thousand different questions that you could ask but what we have in our data time series so for two weeks after people. Get to the ICU. How are they red blood cells evolving? How of their platelet counts doing what we want to do is compare their outcomes and Dan data with other people other healthy people or people that have different afflictions so that we can say this is the thing that's unique about Karina buyers. This is one of the predict is here. That's different from anything else. And it's very hard to get that sort of time. Series data doctors and nurses are working around the clock to keep people alive. They're exhausted so around the world. Medical students are stepping up and being recruited to help collect the data every day. You need to be updating the data. And that's why we need for example medical students to come in because it is such a large burden if anyone is trying to also treat patients on top of that. We have around five hundred different variables from the different patients. And about a hundred of those we have information hopefully essentially every day that they're in ICU. So that we can see how they evolve over time. I can't say too much mall because whilst I have a huge list of variables in front of me things like pro calcitonin. I don't know how they used in a medical context all that I can do generate the reports and then worked with the clinicians in real time to say. What do you want to see? What would you expect to see? And how can I best present these models and this information to you so that you can draw conclusions from it? The urgency of the situation means. This is being taken very seriously. Clinicians are working in the dark right now with this new virus so they'll benefit from a Biegel clearer picture of what's happening for patients around the world. Oh Yeah it's absolutely unbelievable. I've never been involved in a project this lodge and especially in the current predicament. All the usual blockades and the bureaucratic slowdowns that you encounter have just been removed. So we have fifty countries now from Estonia to Kuwait to the United States is coming online the UK Italy Spain strategies coming online now two tons of countries and then each country also has all the hospitals in it. So we've got around two hundred fifty hospitals and that number grows every day.

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