Press Release

September 01, 2020

Cash prize winners of first phase of COVID-19 data challenge announced

The American Heart Association, Hitachi Vantara and BurstIQ announce finalists for global COVID-19 data challenge focused on understanding relationships between COVID-19, health disparities, other health conditions

DALLAS, Sept. 1, 2020 — Four teams of scientific researchers have been named finalists in the first phase of the American Heart Association COVID-19 data challenge, which focuses on understanding the relationships between COVID-19 and other health conditions, health disparities and social determinants of health that may bring a higher burden of illness or mortality.

After peer review by a panel of 29 U.S.-based data science and public health experts, four teams will each receive $5,000 and advance to the final phase of the challenge, with a $15,000 grand prize and a $10,000 second place prize to be awarded in November 2020.

  • Brahmajee Nallamothu, MD, University of Michigan, led the project "Effect of Public Health Policies on New Confirmed Cases for Corona Virus Disease 2019 in South Korea: Lessons for the World."
  • Brynn Sheehan, PhD, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Healthcare Analytics and Delivery Science Institute, and Ralitsa Maduro, PhD, Sentara Healthcare, led the project "The impact of masking policy variation on COVID-19 positive rates: Evidence of race-based differences."
  • Ramaraju Rudraraju, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham, led the project "Understanding the Impact of Social Determinants of Health on COVID-19 Outbreak."
  • Josh Fischburg, CEO at Lifemesh Corp., led the project "Segmentation of socio-economic factors and COVID-19 infection rates."

The COVID-19 data challenge was launched by the American Heart Association, the world's leading voluntary health organization dedicated to building longer, healthier lives, with sponsorship by Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure and solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), and data support by BurstIQ, the leading provider of blockchain-based secure data solutions for the healthcare industry.

A central hub to the research community, the American Heart Association's cloud-enabled Precision Medicine Platform provides access to data and work environments with state-of-the-art high-performance computing and analytics. Researchers connected their own data with datasets hosted on BurstIQ's Research Foundry and the Precision Medicine Platform to address questions of how COVID-19 may be disproportionally affecting those with health disparities. Researchers participating in the challenge used BurstIQ's data exchange network and an extensive library of global COVID-19 datasets to perform analyses within workspaces on the Precision Medicine Platform.

"These researchers are enabling us to better understand the disproportionate burden COVID-19 is having on underserved and vulnerable communities," said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science and co-director of the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine for the American Heart Association.

Hitachi Vantara, which provides the technical infrastructure for the American Heart Association's Precision Medicine Platform, is providing more than $100,000 to support the challenge, including funding for prizes, costs for managing the two-stage challenge and costs for recruiting top scientists to this critical effort.

"Data can drive incredible breakthroughs when we put it in the hands of experts who best know how to use it," said Brad Surak, president, Digital Solutions, Hitachi Vantara. "I'm immensely proud of how the American Heart Association's Precision Medicine Platform has given researchers the tools they need to better understand how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the most vulnerable groups in our society."

"Given the nature of the pandemic and the state of the world today, data driven research is critical in the fight against COVID-19," said Frank Ricotta, CEO, BurstIQ. "We appreciate and are grateful for all the participants involved in the challenge."

Additional Resources:

About American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Hitachi Vantara
Hitachi Vantara, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., guides our customers from what's now to what's next by solving their digital challenges. Working alongside each customer, we apply our unmatched industrial and digital capabilities to their data and applications to benefit both business and society. More than 80% of the Fortune 100 trust Hitachi Vantara to help them develop new revenue streams, unlock competitive advantages, lower costs, enhance customer experiences, and deliver social and environmental value. Visit us at

About BurstIQ
BurstIQ is the leading provider of blockchain-enabled data solutions for the healthcare industry. The company's private, permissioned data network combines blockchain, Big Data, machine intelligence, and granular data ownership and consent to build multi-dimensional profiles of people, places, and things and empower the connections between them. The result is a global, secure data network that allows enterprises, entrepreneurs and governments to collaborate, share, discover, and build the impossible. Visit us at, LinkedIn or Twitter.


American Heart Association
For Media Inquiries and AHA/ASA Expert Perspective: 214-706-1173
Pamela Kreigh: 214-706-1434 |
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) and

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Hitachi Vantara
Nick Fuentes: 415-690-9355,

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