• Research

    Meet Yan Bi, M.D., Ph.D. — Physician and Scholar

Originally from China, Yan Bi, M.D., Ph.D., now lives in Florida. She holds a clinical appointment in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, where she treats patients with a variety of gastrointestinal disorders.

As one might surmise from her doctoral degrees, Dr. Bi is a lifelong learner. Today she seeks to apply her observations to improve care for her patients, and people everywhere. To that end, she recently started a mentored training and research program offered by the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

Yan Bi, M.D., Ph.D.

Her research focus during the program will be to observe cancer disease progression using wearable devices and artificial intelligence to monitor biometrics; developing a real-time scoring system to quantify pancreatic cancer risk in the general population.

Read more about Dr. Bi in the interview below:

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

When I was little, I helped my grandpa who had a drug store in rural China and provided first aid to the local farmers. I was fascinated by the medicine cabinets filled with Western drugs and traditional Chinese medicines like snakeskin, centipede, flowers, seeds, roots and tree barks. The satisfaction of relieving the farmers' discomfort was priceless. However, I also realized how little we could offer in that small drugstore. Since then, I knew medicine was my calling.

What motivated you to become a Kern Health Care Delivery Scholar?

My research interest is in improving early detection of pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal cancers in the United States. However, my previous training focused on basic science and clinical practice, and I need more clinical research training to accomplish my goals. The Kern Health Care Delivery Scholars Program provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen my training in clinical research and help me build skills to translate research findings into system-wide clinical practice changes.

What is your focus and goal as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

My project focuses on observing disease progression — especially cancer development — using wearable devices coupled with artificial intelligence algorithms. My goal is to develop a real-time scoring system to quantitate pancreatic cancer risk in the general population.

Tell us about your mentoring team.

My primary mentor is Rickey E. Carter, Ph.D. Dr. Carter is a professor of biostatistics in Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science; vice chair of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at Mayo Clinic's campus in Jacksonville, Florida; and director of the Digital Innovation Lab. Through the lab, he provides a supportive infrastructure to ensure adequate resources are available for my project. Dr. Carter also provides expertise in health informatics and improving health care delivery through decision-support approaches.

Che G. Ngufor, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biomedical informatics in Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. Dr. Ngufor provides expertise in developing artificial intelligence algorithms. In particular, he assists in using mixed effect machine learning to train machine-learning algorithms and enable the algorithms to accurately handle time-varying, correlated, and high-dimensional longitudinal or clustered data with random effects to develop a scoring system.

I am excited to also be working with Xiaoxi Yao, Ph.D., M.P.H. Dr. Yao has a dual appointment as an associate professor of health services research and of medicine in Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. She is mentoring me on advanced epidemiology and advanced statistical analytic tools.

I also admire Vijay Shah, M.D., chair of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota; Michael B. Wallace, M.D., chair of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, the joint venture between Mayo Clinic and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company in Abu Dhabi; and Shehzad K. Niazi, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry in Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. I hope to emulate them in pairing clinical proficiency with a robust outcomes research program, leading to grant funding and participation in guideline development.

How will your research transform or improve patient care, or affect public health?

I believe that subtle metabolic changes occur months before cancer diagnoses and are the keys to identifying early-stage pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Infrequent, albeit periodic, clinic visits may not be able to capture these changes. Wearable devices can provide a continuous connection between patients and their health care providers and electronic health records. These devices can monitor patients' vital signs, body composition and real-time risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Incorporating these devices in patient-centered care empowers patients to actively engage in controlling and monitoring their health and disease.

My team's approach also aims to establish a care pathway beyond the clinic office, reaching more people around the world. This continuous, affordable, noninvasive and patient-centered care system can ultimately improve pancreatic cancer survival through early detection.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

The excellent patient care and teamwork evident at Mayo Clinic attracted me, but Mayo's commitment to innovative patient care impressed me the most.

Tell us three words that describe you.

Determined, hardworking and resilient.

Outside of work, what is one thing you like to do?