- Middlesex County Magnet Schools
- College Ready. Career Ready. Life Ready.
Medical advance authored by Middlesex County Magnet School students
21 December 2023 · Joseph Bakes
MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – What started as a classroom poster assignment for three Woodbridge Academy Magnet School students has resulted in a paper that was accepted at an international healthcare conference and will be presented online by a prestigious medical publishing company.
Anika Bukkapatnam, Sara Manjaly and Rachana Senthil, current seniors, created a research poster on sepsis -- a serious condition in which the body’s response to infection can result in dire consequences – and discovered that as many as 1.7 million people in the country get sepsis annually and, even more startling that New Jersey has one of the highest sepsis mortality rates in the nation.
Their poster was picked for the annual Tech Expo at Woodbridge Academy, which offers career majors in health and biomedical sciences. After it won first place in the expo, they decided to do something to help solve this problem.
Together, they wrote a preliminary machine-learning model to expedite the diagnosis of sepsis, potentially facilitating earlier and more successful treatment. Their paper on the model was accepted for presentation at the 13th International Conference on Current and Future Trends of Information and Communication Technologies in Healthcare in Kazakhstan.
It will be published online by the Dutch company Elsevier Science in the open-access Procedia Computer Science series.
“The Board of County Commissioners and I are inspired by the exceptional work of our Magnet School students,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios. “The innovative talent that is developing at our schools is the future of our county’s economic growth. This recent honor joins a long list of industry recognition, and we’re proud to see the Magnet School district continue to reach new heights.”
“This is another outstanding achievement by Magnet School students,” Superintendent of Schools Jorge E. Diaz said. “What these students have done is to reach well beyond expectations for their ages and make a real contribution to public health.”
When asked about their friendship, the students said this initiative had brought them closer. They had begun their research on sepsis after being assigned the project by teacher Marie Bowen for a class on medical terminology.
“We worked really hard together, so many hours tinkering with code and drafting edits,” said Rachana, a resident of Monroe.
Anika, a South Brunswick resident, said they were shocked at how few people understood the devastating effect of sepsis on the New Jersey community, especially when so many had known sepsis patients who suffered.
“It really did come together at the end,” said Sara, who lives in Old Bridge, and their medical terminology class voted to send them to the Tech Expo, an annual event in all five Middlesex County Magnet Schools in which students in the different career majors make presentations before guest judges.
“We explained every stage of sepsis, highlighting the experiences of our community members,” Annika said.
She said the statistics that stayed with them were that as many as 200,000 people a year die as a result of sepsis.
“It’s fairly easy to prevent if the proper medications are taken,” Rachana said, but diagnosis frequently is delayed.
“We got tired of only presenting statistics,” Annika said. “We wanted to show people a solution. So they decided to see if machine learning could speed up diagnosis, which sometimes can take four or five days before blood tests suggest antibiotics are appropriate.
After some coding and analysis, they decided to submit their findings to the conference “and see where it takes us,” Annika said.
“We wanted to educate people about this prevalent disease,” Rachana said.
Their teacher, Marie Bowen, called them "bright, innovative and tenacious students who took the serious medical issue sepsis and identified a potential for enhanced diagnostic assessment using artificial intelligence.
“These students have been proactive in their attempt to disseminate their findings through publication,” she said. “I am extremely proud of their hard work and ongoing dedication to this project and their contribution to the medical community."
All three are aspiring to pursue careers in health care.
The Middlesex County Magnet Schools, formerly the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has high schools in East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway and Woodbridge, offering more than 30 career majors, as well as adult programs. More information is available at www.mcmsnj.net.
About Middlesex County Magnet Schools
Middlesex County Magnet Schools enroll nearly 2,300 high school students and more than 700 adult education students annually. Established in 1914 by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners as the country's first vocational and technical high school district, the district fulfills an essential need for free occupational training across the State of New Jersey. Students in the district benefit from 33 distinct career program offerings on campuses situated in five Middlesex County municipalities: East Brunswick, Edison, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, and Woodbridge.
Follow the district online @mcmagnetschools:
Facebook · Twitter · Instagram · LinkedIn · YouTube