We are in an era where science and technology are evolving at an unprecedented rate. Now more than ever, there is a critical need to understand how scientific evidence can inform global health practices and policies, while considering advances in exponential technologies. Aranka has a PhD in public health and epidemiology and holds fellowship appointments at the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and at Boston Children’s Hospital Computational Informatics Program. She has many scientific publications in high-impact peer-reviewed journals including JAMA, the American Journal of Public Health and the Lancet. She has been bestowed Canada's highest academic awards, and holds competitive funding from numerous international agencies to promote research innovation. Aranka's scientific interests converge around space technologies, digital health transformation and health systems with an aim to solve local and global challenges in food security, infectious diseases and emergency response.
SPACE TECH for global health
Exponential technologies are transforming our ability to understand, detect and treat health conditions. International government and private sector space agencies have been instrumental in translating space science and technology to terrestrial healthcare and clinical solutions. Aranka's latest research explores how space research & development enhances our ability to save lives on planet Earth through spin-off robotics technologies, communication and observation satellites, global positioning and remote sensing systems. Stay tuned for her 2018 book co-authored with colleagues from the United Nations Expert Group in Space and Global Health, which highlights future directions in exponential space technologies that can propel citizen scientists, philanthropists, industry and government to collectively achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Innovations in data science and disease surveillance are changing the way we respond to public health threats. The proliferation of Big Data in public health has created new opportunities for understanding and visualizing complex health risks. Digital biosurveillance and related technologies has helped governments and humanitarian agencies to detect and deploy interventions more efficiently. Aranka has published several papers evaluating the use of digital platforms for real-time detection of health risks, diseases, patterns and outcomes. A review of research in this areas published by American Scientist magazine describes how aggregation and filtering of online mobile Big Data from news, social media, blogs, and other informal sources can be used to detect pandemic outbreaks such as H1N1, Ebola and Zika in near real-time.
Population health is determined by a complex array of biological, social, economic and political factors. Understanding how these factors influence experiences of health, disease and dignity is essential to designing effective services. Aranka’s research has sought to unpack determinants of health such as housing, food security, mental health, health system utilization and socio-economic status. She has developed science-backed Conceptual Frameworks that have been applied locally and globally to refine governmental regulatory policies, guide community programming and inform data analyses. Aranka’s population health models have been co-published with and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, World Health Organization and select United Nations agencies.
The future of life sciences is digital. Companies are undergoing a transformation that requires them to generate, manage and exchange large volumes of data efficiently and securely. The digital transformation has led many firms to adopt platform-based technologies that bring together clinicians, insurers, suppliers and patients into a common marketplace that provides mutual value. Aranka has led scientific strategy and business development for precision medicine and informatics firms, and guided supply chain solutions adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Her current interests focus on development and application of ‘design thinking’ tools that can enable life sciences firms to create new digital assets and platform-based approaches to enhance their core business.
FOOD & nutrition SECURITY
With over 800 million people affected by hunger and malnutrition, there is an urgent need to identify solutions that work. Aranka's work has aimed at understanding challenges and opportunities for sustainable, locally appropriate nutritious and safe household food access - whether in inner city 'food deserts', climate-induced disaster and armed conflicts. Aranka has published extensively on the topic of food and nutrition security; evaluated programs across Africa, Asia and North America; and advises international agencies such as UNICEF, the United Nations World Food Programme and USAID on evidence-based policies for reducing hunger. Aranka's current focus is on research and development of foodtech and precision nutrition solutions for personalized and population nutrition.
Substance use affects millions of people worldwide and requires an evidence-based clinical and public health solutions. Harm reduction strategies have proven to save lives, reduce adverse health effects and promote dignity among people who use drugs. Aranka's research has examined the relationship between drug use and HIV and Hepatitis C Virus outcomes. Her current focus is on the use of digital harm reduction solutions to address the opioid crisis caused by fentanyl poisoning. Aranka is supporting the development and expansion of platform technologies aimed at promoting harm reduction education, safe consumption and timely emergency response.