Weighty matters at Aston
New Optimist Professor Ian Nabney is the second of the scientists I'm writing about in this blog.
The first was optometrist James Wolffsohn and about bionic eyes . . . You wouldn't automatically think of Ian when it comes to medical and health issues. For he's a computer scientist, an expert in probability theory and machine learning, so someone you might think of as coming up with tomorrow's data-mining methodologies, or if into today's commercial applications, doing stuff for for city trading, say, or supermarket logistics.
His expertise, however, has proved key in developing a radical new way of measuring the risks associated with obesity.
Instead of the 200 year old BMI (body mass index) yardstick, Ian and his team have been closely involved in the development of a Body Volume Index (BVI) which takes account of an individual's body shape and type.
This means that medics can now better identify people who are at risk of illnesses such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
Ian's role in the development of this revolutionary new piece of health kit was to validate it and develop the statistics of its relationship with risk indicators.
Getting the results from this equipment does, as Ian says, enable a clinician to make far better judgments about the risks associated with the fat distribution around your body. It takes lots of data about, sure, your height and weight but also takes on board significant data about your particular shape age, gender, lifestyle, etc . . . and computes it all into an assessment of your health, now and in the future.
And all done here in the West Midlands, devised here, validated here, launched here by Richard Barnes of Select Research.
Another instance of an Aston Prof playing a key innovative role. And, typical of innovation nowadays, requiring a cross-disciplinary approach for a solution to a newly-identified problem.