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Meet Physician-Data Scientist Xiaoying Wu Meet Physician-Data Scientist Xiaoying Wu

Xiaoying brought a unique skill set to our data science community: A physician by training, she also had master's degrees in biostatistics from Penn and computer science from Drexel. Here's why that's the perfect recipe for real-world health impact today.

Building Platforms to Power Our Success

Before joining our team, Xiaoying was putting her medical expertise into practice as a medical imaging research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania. There, she began to focus on the development and application of advanced image analysis and statistical methods. The goal? To identify and extract the telltale “signatures" of various diseases and disorders, based on images. It was exciting work—and it's what ultimately led her to join our community of data scientists at Johnson & Johnson.

Today, Xiaoying is VP of Data Science Platforms and Privacy at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The role comes with a fairly unique mandate.

"Most data scientists in R&D are passionate about building models and applying machine learning algorithms," Xiaoying said. "But when you're working with healthcare data, you often have to spend a lot of time ‘engineering' the data before that work can start."

Data engineering refers to the process of preparing data for analysis. That might entail building and maintaining data pipeline systems, bringing together different data technologies or taking steps to ensure that all the data is complete, relevant and properly formatted.

By building platforms and tools that expedite the data engineering process, Xiaoying is enabling her fellow data scientists to spend more time doing what they love—and more time making an impact. So far, the results have been impressive. Take rHEALTH, for example, a data analytics platform that Xiaoying helped build. By leveraging real-world data like electronic health records as well as administrative and insurance claims, the platform facilitates the work of multiple operating companies at Johnson & Johnson.

"There are something like 500 projects underway on rHEALTH right now," Xiaoying said. "It was a huge effort—and it turned out to be a huge success."

Uncovering New Opportunities for Health Impact

One way Xiaoying sees data science having a significant near-term impact has to do with real-world data. She explained, “With real-world data, we’re able to not only reveal hidden patterns in disease populations but uncover novel ways to make clinical trials more efficient. If we can accelerate trial enrollment, for example, that’s a huge benefit for patients.”

But that’s not all—not by a long shot.

"On the discovery side, we can use data science to optimize the design of the best compounds, find new pathways and increase productivity—there's really no limit to what we can achieve," Xiaoying said. "And from a development perspective, we're leveraging data science to understand the natural history of diseases and patient journeys. It helps maximize our probability of success."

In fact, Xiaoying and her team are already advancing along that path in R&D, effectively bringing pre-clinical, clinical and real-world data together across diverse systems to unleash the power of data science. Given all that, how does Xiaoying foresee data science transforming the future of health?

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Drug discovery is going to be driven by machine learning and AI. We’ll also use ‘digital twins’ to model systems in the human body, which will help with research, treatment, clinical trials and more. And last but not least, the use of real-world data and evidence to accelerate product discovery and development is going to become mainstream.

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In the meantime, Xiaoying says she's focused on finding new areas to explore and new ways to grow in her career. "I'm always learning. There are constantly new developments in this space, and data science is such a diverse skill set. The question I keep asking myself is, 'How can I maximize my own value and strengths?'"

If the strength of her contributions so far is any indication, Xiaoying should have no trouble coming up with an answer to that.

Join Our Community of Data Scientists Today!

Ready to see how your unique perspective and skill set, just like Xiaoying's, can help make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world? Learn how you can join the team of data scientists at Janssen R&D, or check out all of the openings in data science at Johnson & Johnson today. Plus, if you want to stay in touch, you can sign up for our Global Talent Hub, too. That way, you'll get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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