Faculty Member’s NSF Grant to Enhance Biomedical Content Search

Dr. Bukhari in front of red background with multiple St. John's University logos
June 17, 2021

Syed Ahmad Chan Bukhari, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science, and Program Director, Healthcare Informatics, The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies (CCPS), recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the availability of biomedical content to a rapidly expanding pool of researchers and students.

“We are delighted that Dr. Bukhari’s research will be supported by this prestigious grant and look forward to seeing how the results of his study can provide more accessible biomedical and health information for all,” said Glenn Gerstner, Ed.D., ’81SVC, Dean and Distinguished Chair of CCPS. The two-year, $175,000 grant takes effect on July 1.

In explaining his research to advance biomedical content search technology, Dr. Bukhari said, “Efficient strategies for accessing biomedical content are crucial for the timely transfer of correct information from the scientific research community to peer investigators and interested individuals.”

Although valuable information is embedded in online biomedical content, it remains “opaque” to information retrieval and knowledge extraction search engines, according to Dr. Bukhari. He said that to “overcome the challenges of biomedical information retrieval, our lab is developing outside-of-the-box, socio-technical systems.”

Dr. Bukhari, who came to St. John’s University in September 2019 from Yale University, said his proposed system aims “to enable peer-to-peer knowledge creation that, in turn, will open up career opportunities for a socioeconomically diverse pool of learners, especially the underrepresented minorities in research and academia.”

St. John’s is one of the first New York-area colleges and universities to offer a Healthcare Informatics degree program, a field which combines elements of healthcare sciences, computer science, information science, and cognitive science to study health data to enable health providers to make better healthcare decisions.

The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." and is the funding source for approximately 27 percent of the total federal budget for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities.

The NSF funds specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. 

Dr. Gerstner described the NSF grant awarded to Dr. Bukhari as “a testament to the outstanding applied research being conducted by CCPS faculty.”

“Dr. Bukhari’s research,” he added, “is designed to help solve a real-world problem, and what could be a more important topic than health care?”