Shantrel Canidate awarded NIH fellowship designed to improve diversity in AI research

Shantrel Canidate
Dr. Shantrel S. Canidate

University of Florida faculty member Shantrel S. Canidate, Ph.D., M.P.H., has received a research fellowship from the National Institutes of Health’s Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity program, or AIM-AHEAD.

Canidate is an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the UF College of Medicine whose research focuses on improving health outcomes among Black men who have sex with men and are living with HIV.

“A complex range of psychosocial and structural factors contribute to racial disparities in HIV infection risk, access to care and outcomes among Black MSM living with HIV, a population that is hard to recruit into biobehavioral research,” Canidate said.

The AIM-AHEAD program was created to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning models and to improve the capabilities of the technology, beginning with electronic health records and extending to other diverse data in order to address health disparities and inequities. Canidate is among two PHHP faculty members who are in the inaugural AIM-AHEAD fellowship cohort. Candice Adams-Mitchell, SLP.D., CCC-SLP, a clinical assistant professor in the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, has received an AIM-AHEAD leadership fellowship.

The fellowship program provides early-career researchers funding and support for research on novel and innovative data science and data-focused research problems. Canidate will receive mentorship from AIM-AHEAD core members as well as the opportunity to conduct research using a dataset that includes data from 155 health systems across 28 states representing nearly 5 million patients.

Canidate’s primary AIM-AHEAD mentor is Mattia Prosperi, Ph.D., a UF professor of epidemiology and PHHP’s coordinator of artificial intelligence who has extensive experience in AI technologies and in causal inference, an approach that helps researchers consider the cause and effect of variables upon outcomes. Canidate will receive additional support from faculty in UF’s department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics.

Canidate’s fellowship project will apply artificial intelligence and causal inference approaches to electronic health records in order to identify interventions that can improve care access and outcomes among Black MSM living with HIV.

“My long-term research career goal to become an independent health disparities researcher who conducts biobehavioral interventions to reduce racial disparities in HIV and improve health outcomes among Black MSM living with HIV in Florida,” Canidate said.