New book on COVID-19 features UHV faculty and students | Readers’ stories

A University of Houston-Victoria faculty member is one of five editors of a recently published book on computational approaches to mitigating Sars-COV-2 infection and includes research and the work of professors and students of the UHV.

The book, “Computational Approaches for Novel Therapeutic and Diagnostic Designing to Mitigate Sars-COV-2 Infection: Revolutionary Strategies to Combat Pandemics” published in July. Hardik Gohel, assistant professor of computer science, is one of five editors of the 25-chapter book, which features research from professors around the world, including two UHV faculty members and three UHV students. The book is published by Academic Press of Elsevier.

“This research is essential because the pandemic has been going on since 2020 and we are still feeling the aftershocks,” Gohel said. “This book highlights important research on the virus while providing a platform for current students and our alumni. This shows how the work they do in the classroom applies to health care and health care research.

At the start of the pandemic, very little information about the virus was known, including the viral infection process, detection, and all the different aspects of a pandemic. There was also little data on the virus, which is useful in artificial intelligence, biosensors, therapies and more in the health sciences. At that time, Gohel was in contact with different collaborators in India and other countries to create a comprehensive publication on virus solutions and research.

Gohel and the publishers prepared a proposal for the publisher and decided to publish a book. Once the book was approved, the publishers issued a call for scholars to submit chapters. Gen Kaneko, assistant professor of biology at UHV, and Hashimul Ehsan, assistant professor of biology and director of the master of science program in biomedical sciences, have expressed interest in submitting a chapter, Gohel said.

The students of the master’s program in biomedical sciences at UHV had worked on the subject of COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic until spring 2021 with Ehsan. They based their research on information available at that time, including the process of COVID-19 and its effects on the body, available vaccines, and virus variants up to that point. Mahaly Baptiste, of Austin; Alisha Merchant of Houston; and Tania Vidal Hernandez from Houston were the students who worked on the research. This is the first time that all the students have seen their research and work published in a book. The students received guidance and support from Ehsan and Kaneko on the project.

Merchant and Vidal did much of the writing, Kaneko said. Merchant works for the Harris County Public Health Department and Vidal works in cardiovascular electrophysiology for Biosense Webster, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. It took about six months to complete the first draft of the chapter, then another three months of editing, revising, and updating. There were times when the two had long nights working on the manuscript, which was difficult because both were working and Vidal had a newborn baby at the time, Vidal said. Merchant will also feature the chapter for a session of UHV Discovers in the fall.

“It’s been extremely helpful and working on a project like this has definitely opened a lot of doors for us and helped us understand how to make important information digestible for the general public,” Merchant said. “The project also taught us all the leadership skills and how to be a team player, which is an extremely important skill to have.”

Vidal also designed and created the images used in the chapter. It was a long and difficult process, as the images also had to communicate easy-to-understand information and provide guidance when reading the book. However, the work was worth it and will help her in her career, she said.

“Being seen as an expert on the subject and being published is something that is always going to give an edge,” Vidal said. “When I complete my Masters in Biomedical Sciences and start applying for my PhD, I will always have proof of my hard work, commitment and dedication.”

For his part, Baptiste helped edit the chapter and rewrote some of the research to make the content easier to understand. Baptiste currently works as a project coordinator in a lab at Baylor College of Medicine. As an alumnus of UHV’s Masters in Biomedical Science program, she was able to learn the skills to read new research articles and convey information effectively so that anyone could easily understand the content, which helped her edit the chapter and work.

“I am happy that in the UHV program I had teachers like Dr. Ehsan and Dr. Kaneko supporting me and giving great advice. They were both always available to discuss the project so we never felt alone,” Baptiste said. “I am grateful to have had such great teachers in this program.”

This project was an effective way for students to learn and improve their ability to understand scientific language, Kaneko said.

“It was a great opportunity during the pandemic to learn more about the virus and is a contribution from UHV,” Ehsan said. “This is the first book chapter for our graduate students, and we are proud of the work they have done.”

There is potential for more collaboration between computer science and biology programs at UHV, Gohel said.

“We have excellent biomedical sciences, data science, artificial intelligence, computer science and other programs here at UHV, and I look forward to similar projects and collaborations in the future” , said Gohel.

“Computational Approaches for Novel Therapeutic and Diagnostic Design to Mitigate Sars-COV-2 Infection: Breakthrough Strategies to Combat Pandemics” can be accessed online at several locations, including www.elsevier.com, Target.com and the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine.

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