Campus News in Brief

Carnegie Mellon maintains top ranking

U.S. News and World Report recently released its 2014 undergraduate and graduate college rankings. Carnegie Mellon was ranked the number one graduate school for computer science in the United States, retaining the spot it earned in 2010, the last time U.S. News and World Report ranked graduate schools in computer science.

Carnegie Mellon was tied for the top spot with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley. In specialty computer science rankings, Carnegie Mellon was ranked number one in programming languages, second in artificial intelligence, fourth in systems, and fifth in theory.

Carnegie Mellon also earned several other top 20 spots in the U.S. News and World Report graduate rankings, including fifth in engineering, ninth in statistics, 10th in part-time MBA and 18th in full-time MBA.
For engineering, specifically, Carnegie Mellon was ranked fourth in computer engineering, seventh in environmental engineering, eighth in electrical engineering, and 10th in mechanical engineering.

On the overall list of national university rankings, Carnegie Mellon retained its ranking of 23rd.

CMU research analyzes asthma patients

Wei Wu, an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Lane Center for Computational Biology, recently conducted research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Wu led the analysis of data obtained from the Severe Asthma Research Program, using computational biology methods to identify groupings of patients.

Wu’s methods were based on machine learning algorithms, which find patterns in data and learn from what they find to improve their performance from experience. Wu’s analysis was based on 112 asthma-related variables, measuring everything from lung function to family history. The clusters Wu identified, in many cases, aligned with known grouping, such as asthma related to allergies, sinus disease, or environmental factors. Wu also identified new clusters, however, such as one characterized by frequent, severe asthma symptoms associated with poor quality of life and depression in some obese women.

“The ultimate goal is to develop treatments that are based on the biological mechanisms underlying each cluster of patients, rather than simply treating the symptoms,” said Wu in a university news release. To accomplish this goal, Wu and her collaborators are analyzing genetic factors associated with each of the patient clusters.

Dr. Sally E. Wenzel, director of the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, as well as lead co-author of the recently published paper, said that this research could have implications beyond just asthma. “This approach has implications not just for asthma, but for all complex diseases, which include most chronic diseases,” Wenzel said in the news release.

While many asthmatics respond well to corticosteroids, Wu’s research could help create more specific, genetically-targeted treatment plans for those who don’t. The research was sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.