Bellarmine College Preparatory junior Pravin Ravishanker is featured in the November issue of Popular Mechanics as one of fifteen “Next Generation” innovators to receive the magazine’s Breakthrough Award.
The Breakthrough Award honors people who are driving industry and society to new possibility, doing things that no one else would think feasible. In Ravishanker’s case, that “new possibility” is the software tool, ALZCan, which he created to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before its onset. By combining neuroscience, statistics and computer programming, and using machine-learning techniques and data from the Alzheimer’s disease Neuroimaging Initiative, Ravishanker trained ALZCan to find biological indicators of the disease.
“Doctors do not have a standard for making accurate prognoses based on a variety of demographic, clinical, imaging and genetic information.” Ravishanker explained. “Yet researchers around the world have all agreed that early detection of Alzheimer’s will be essential in order to slow, stop and prevent the disease from causing further cognitive and structural decline.”
Using ALZCan, Ravishanker has been able to predict the onset of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s one year in advance with 68 percent accuracy, and two years in advance with 55 percent accuracy. With more patient data to refine the tool, he expects those percentages to increase, and hopes that provides for a better chance of determining how to stop the disease.