Digital health innovator Mark Sendak named STAT Wunderkind

Monday, November 16, 2020
Mark Sendak, MD

One of 26 early-career scientists recognized by the Boston publication this year

Mark Sendak, MD, the leader of Population Health & Data Science at the Duke Institute for Health Innovation, has been named one of this year’s STAT Wunderkinds by the Boston-based biomedical news site, for his work on making data science in healthcare applicable to all users and all kinds of patients.

“I ground a lot of the work I’m doing in the mindset of patients who are going to have the most challenging time using these services, because in general, that’s not who these systems are designed for,” Sendak told STAT. He’s one of 26 honorees this year.

Last month, DIHI’s work on an artificial intelligence system for early warning of sepsis received glowing coverage from MIT’s Technology Review magazine. Sendak’s team was lauded for employing sociology and anthropology to better understand the needs of end-users of the system.

Shortly after the pandemic shutdown began this Spring, Sendak marshalled his connections to begin building a network that is now known as the Pandemic Response Network.

Based in Durham, but serving the entire country, PRN provides daily virtual check-ins and symptom monitoring for people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19, but sent home to recuperate. The daily contact is therapeutic, of course, but it also serves as an early-warning system should the patient’s symptoms become worse.

The PRN started as Duke Community Health watch, with a focus on Durham’s underserved and under-resourced communities, including the Spanish-speaking population, but it quickly became a national effort as Sendak built partnerships with service providers.