An ill newborn infant in a hospital bed with wires and tubes and monitors.
Prof. Keim-Malpass, who uses big data to predict illness pathways, will create models to determine which pediatric patients with sepsis will grow more ill, and which ones will recover.

An icon of a computer to signify scholarship in data science. An icon of a clipboard to signify scholarship in symptom science. Who gets better, and who gets sicker?

What factors determine whether some critically ill children recover from sepsis—a blood infection caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungus—while others do not? And could a computer model help doctors and nurses actually predict those patients who are more likely to recover, and those whose condition will worsen, and possibly cause their death?

4.2 million children

the W.H.O.'s estimate of the number of children who die of sepsis around the world, each year

Jessica Keim-Malpass, an associate professor of nursing, is one of 11 American nurse scientists selected to receive a Betty Irene Moore Foundation Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators. With the $450,000, three-year fellowship, Keim-Malpass will develop novel computational approaches to understand how and why certain hospitalized children with sepsis recover, while others grow worse.

The World Health Organization estimates as many as three million newborns and 1.2 million children suffer from sepsis globally each year. Though roughly a third of pediatric ICU deaths are due to sepsis, factors that lead to it remain poorly understood and understudied.

Using thousands of existing data points from previous pediatric patients with sepsis, Keim-Malpass’s work will help clinicians identify and treat kids whose sepsis is likely to worsen, ultimately guiding the optimal introduction of care interventions, especially antibiotics, for children with this critical illness. The new work builds on Keim-Malpass’s existing expertise in predictive analytics developed with partner Randall Moorman and UVA’s Center for Advanced Medical Analytics that crunches data to forecasts decompensation in critically ill adult patients.

UVA School of Nursing Dean Pamela Cipriano applauded Keim-Malpass’s new fellowship, calling her “an emerging major figure in the world of big data.”

Keim-Malpass is "an emerging major figure in the world of big data. Her work highlights the role nurse scientists play as leaders in bringing innovative methods to the bedside."

Dean Pamela Cipriano, Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing

“Her work highlights the role nurse scientists play as leaders in bringing innovative methods to the bedside,” said Cipriano. “Participating as a Moore fellow will support her development as a leader and influencer in nursing through integrating analytic innovation into nursing practice.”

In addition to the project, Keim-Malpass and her fellow grantees will take part in a hybrid online and classroom curriculum designed and taught by UC Davis’s Graduate School of Management that aims to enhance leadership, strengthen strategic thinking and collaboration skills, expand professional networks, develop entrepreneurial thinking, and propel innovation.

Keim-Malpass’s UVA team will include mentor and co-PI Moorman, a physician scientist who leads the Center for Advanced Medical Analytics, public health science professor Jenn Lobo, medical statistician Doug Lake, and physician scientists Mike Spaeder and Brynne Sullivan.

“We are excited to see what our nurse leader fellows, including professor Keim-Malpass, accomplish during this fellowship and beyond,” said Stephen J. Cavanagh, dean of UC Davis’s School of Nursing, which oversees the Moore Fellowship. “Our goal is to build and develop the next cadre of nurse leaders who can bring about change and innovation by networking and disseminating their knowledge across the nation.”

“We’re delighted to provide fellows with a unique learning opportunity to fully understand their roles as leaders and how they can shape and influence health systems to deliver on the promise for better patient experiences and outcomes,” said Heather M. Young, professor and dean emerita of UC Davis School of Nursing, and program director of the Moore Foundation’s fellowship program. “We expect this next generation of nursing leaders to have a widespread impact not only in their own communities but nationwide.”