Vikram Pathalam, alongside partner Varun Swamy, are 12th grade students from the Shrewsbury High School in Massachusetts who are passionate in creating change within the scientific community. They have been observing the increase in cases of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia in the public and have noticed flaws in the reliable and effective detection of the illness. Furthermore, each of them took it into their own hands and decided to create an effective automated diagnosis for this disease by taking advantage of commonalities. Titled "Supervised Classification Algorithm for the Automated Diagnosis of Dementia", Vikram Pathalam has performed substantial research in the field to create a final product which can accurately make a formal diagnosis of Dementia within a patient.
The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia is an international threat to the public health and financial sectors. Dementia is an overarching group of diseases categorized by the commonality of memory loss; prominent forms include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). In the United States alone, over 5.3 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease, but approximately 55% of these cases are left undiagnosed. In 2015, care for dementia cost the United States an estimated $226 billion. In order to both improve cost efficiency and reduce the time for a formal diagnosis, we developed a computer program which could automatically diagnose the presence of several forms of dementia. Utilizing MATLAB software by Mathworks, Inc., statistics such as entropy were extracted from axial magnetic resonance images of the brain. This information was then synthesized with characteristics such as age, gender, and MMSE score through a manually implemented supervised learning model (primitive Artificial Neural Network) in order to determine an output diagnosis. The algorithm was designed with a sequence of conditional statements which checked the given and extracted features against known characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and MCI. This project will be furthered by the creation of a mobile application, alongside future study in clinical trials and an increase in the number of forms of dementia diagnosed. Through its comprehensive approach of diagnosing multiple types of dementia, this program improves upon current products in the market while advancing previous research done in the field.
This project was first presented at the Shrewsbury High School Science and Engineering Fair where it earned finalist recognition. This recognition allowed the research to be presented at the Worcester Regional Science and Engineering Fair where it had earned a 2nd Place prize. The project was afterwards held at the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair in May 2016 where it earned 1st Place recognition alongside an award from the United States Navy for scientific achievement and an award from Biogen Inc. for scientific achievement. Other accolades include the project being presented at the Massachusetts Junior Academy of Science, and serving as the Massachusetts delegate to the national American Junior Academy of Sciences conference which will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in mid-February.