Meet the Director of Data Science and Analytics at NutriSense, Olga Sazonova. Olga has also worked with GRAIL, Inc as a Senior and Staff Scientist and with 23andMe as a Product Scientist II and Computational Biologist.
We explore a very unique side of listening to the patient with Olga through her expertise as a biological data scientist and her experience leading teams of exceptional analysts and engineers to deliver personalized data-driven products to improve cancer diagnostics and data nutrition for wellness and disease prevention.
A few topics we discussed with Olga in this episode are:
- How Data Science and Analytics tell a patient’s story
- The value in Glucose Monitoring
- The company NutriSense –
“The value of data and what we call data science and analytics is to tell a story.”
Telling a patient’s story through Data Science and Analytics
The standard practice Olga uses when thinking about a particular question or problem is to look at it from a holistic picture, a pattern, a vignette, an individual person. So, “Data can be an amazingly objective and comprehensive tool for helping us understand what’s going on.”
- She looks at their journey, their data over a period of time combining the entire data set and the rigorous statistical analyses to come up with a scientifically valid answer, then overlaying that with an individual’s data to say, this is what it looks like for a single person, not just a sum of a bunch of data points.
- Keeping a record of your experience, your environment can be extremely helpful for figuring out which anecdotes to listen to and not.
Olga mentions the value of a food diary. A lot of people with chronic disease struggle to understand what they eat may or may not contribute to their symptoms. She said you could anecdotally say, “Well, I have inflammatory bowel disease. It seems like when I eat food with emulsifiers, I have symptoms. I have flare ups.” People think they would notice these patterns. Olga says the right thing to do is to start keeping that diary and note every time you eat food with emulsifiers, what are your symptoms like the next one or two days and so forth.
Using glucose monitoring you can track morning, noon, and night metabolic characteristics in a person noticing how they change and evolve over time.
- As these continuous glucose monitors develop, researchers have started using them in academic settings on healthy individuals and research shows there’s a lot going on under the surface for healthy people that they didn’t really anticipate.
- One of the most surprising findings was that different people have different responses to the same food.
This came out of a landmark study in 2015 out of a group in Israel. They had 800 people wear continuous glucose monitors for two weeks. They had them eat specific things and they saw that the same person can eat a banana and experience a high spike, but eat a cookie and have a much less dramatic increase in blood sugar. And then the reverse is true for someone else.
“I think what we would hear when we start listening to our members is that maybe more traditional vital signs of your heart rate, your pulse, amount of oxygen, your blood, glucose is really a marker that’s valuable for understanding where you’re at today across many dimensions.”
The company is three years old and has three co-founders.
- The first is a very technical software engineer.
- The second COO has decades of experience in healthcare consulting and really understands the business and the market side of things.
- The third co-founder is a registered dietician who spent years working in hospital settings.
When starting the company this confluence of three minds thought deeply about the technology, the market opportunity, and also a way to unlock the benefits of nutrition and nutritional counseling for many, many more people before they have a disease.
They often speak out about nutrition awareness being too late. If they can get to patients much sooner before they have, for example, end-stage renal disease due to complications of diabetes. They could get to them before they even have diabetes.
Olga believes food can really have the greatest impact.
If you’d like to read more about patient empowerment – along with the 83bar patient recruitment platform – go to www.83bar.com