Aug. 3, 2022

Former Libin trainee embracing new career

Dr. Todd Wilson’s thesis work invaluable in creation of decision-making tool for kidney and heart health

Dr. Todd Wilson, PhD, isn’t afraid to tackle new challenges.

After more than a decade working as an actuary, Wilson made the decision to pursue a new career path. He completed his MSc in epidemiology in 2016 and his PhD in 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Matthew James, MD, PhD.

Wilson is now a statistical associate and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine.

“I enjoy working in health sciences, because there is potential to make a difference and to do research that could potentially help patients or improve health care,” says Wilson. “This is very rewarding.”

Wilson’s PhD thesis involved creating risk prediction models for a shared decision-making tool to help patients with chronic kidney disease and their physicians make personalized decisions when it comes to their kidney and heart health.

Data from thousands of Albertans with CKD treated for heart disease in the APPROACH registry and Alberta Kidney Disease Network database, along with results from randomized trials, were used to create the models for the application.

The app works by comparing a patient’s health information with the thousands of data points available in the system and predicting potential outcomes of different treatment options.

It’s an important tool because chronic kidney disease increases the risk of developing heart conditions by up to four times. Additionally, some heart treatments may impact kidney health.

“This gives patients the opportunity to compare the risk between treatment options and make an informed choice that matches their values and preferences,” says Wilson.

James notes that Wilson did much of the heavy lifting on the statistical modelling for the project, which includes a team of CSM researchers and is part of a larger, nation-wide research study designed to improve quality of life for patients with CKD. (Learn more here.)

“Dr. Wilson’s hard work was instrumental in the creation of this decision-making software tool,” says James. “His work has the potential to positively impact decision making for thousands of Canadians living with kidney and cardiovascular disease.”

So far, the app is receiving positive feedback and the research group is optimistic about its capabilities.

Wilson continues to work with the Nephrology Research Group and APPROACH Team at the CSM.

“I feel proud to have been part of this project and to be able to contribute knowledge to patients with CKD,” he says.

Dr. Todd Wilson, PhD, is an epidemiologist and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine.

Dr. Matthew James, MD, PhD, is a kidney specialist and associate professor in the departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health.