Andrew Williams Gets NSF Grant

Andrew Williams headshot

Andrew Williams, MD, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh, has received a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to examine optimal treatment patterns for patients with diabetic retinopathy.

Dr. Williams will collaborate with Taewoo Lee, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Swanson School of Engineering who has expertise in optimization of healthcare operations. Dr. Williams’ role as co-investigator is to bring ophthalmic expertise, clinical datasets, and knowledge about barriers to ophthalmic care that would allow modeling of these pressing questions.

Their project examines optimal treatment patterns for patients with diabetic retinopathy (DR), a chronic condition that can be treated by eye injections and/or laser therapy. The type of treatment and the frequency of re-treatment varies depending on DR severity and clinical response to therapy, and patient follow-up compliance is critical to achieve optimal outcomes. Therefore, the ideal treatment recommendation for a specific patient varies both on degree of DR and each patient’s ability to maintain compliance to care.

“Using data from UPMC, two Houston-area hospitals, and a nationwide ophthalmic dataset, we will model DR treatment optimization both from the patient level and the clinic level,” Dr. Williams said. “We will first model the patient’s perspective, which determines an optimal DR treatment schedule over time for each patient based on clinical and follow-up characteristics. We will then examine how eye clinics can improve patient compliance and access to care in a personalized manner. Ultimately, we evaluate how patients’ and eye clinics’ perspectives can be harmonized to identify a treatment policy that is implementable by eye clinics while both clinically and behaviorally desirable for individual patients. We aspire to use this work to produce an evidenced-based, patient-specific treatment design to provide critical guidance for tailoring DR treatment.”