Grant to fund new lab and classroom for cybersecurity in health care

data science academics and research

New treatments, early disease detection and improved patient care are all benefits of the digital, interconnected health care system. But that data ecosystem is also susceptible to cybersecurity threats. Meharry SACS seeks to prepare Biomedical Data Science Ph.D. students to tackle these challenges. A $60,000 grant from the CAE-Cybersecurity Education Diversity Initiative will create a cybersecurity lab and classroom that will help make that possible.

The lab, Data-Driven Intelligence and Security for Cyber-Physical Systems (DISCS), will have the hardware and software necessary for cybersecurity in health care research. Dr. Uttam Ghosh, associate professor of cybersecurity, is the principal investigator. He will lead and direct a postdoctoral student who will perform the cybersecurity and networking lab setup, design the Privacy and Security in Healthcare and security modules for the Big Data Management and Analytics course, and prepare lab manuals for experiments related to cybersecurity and networking. David Lockett, grants proposal development and awards management specialist, is senior personnel and will be responsible for managing the cybersecurity and networking lab. 

Uttam Ghosh, Ph.D.

“We will design and develop a secure, AI-based, smart, cyber-infrastructure for health care systems,” says Dr. Ghosh. “We will integrate software-defined networking (SDN), 5G, edge, fog, and cloud technologies. The lab will also use AI tools for providing efficient and secure data communication, as well as processing for intelligent health care and cyber-physical systems.”

The DISCS lab will also serve as the home for the new course, Privacy and Security in Health Care, that will be added to the Biomedical Data Science Ph.D. program in 2024. That approach facilitates a hands-on, project-based learning environment.

The goal for the DISCS lab and course is to prepare students with a profound, comprehensive understanding of security risks and threats in health care. They will also master probable solutions for protecting and preserving privacy.

“Our students will learn essential skills in cybersecurity such as firewall configuration, privacy preservation using federated learning, secure coding, network security, drone-based integrations and other skills essential to cybersecurity,” says Dr. Ghosh.

Potential projects could include exploring ways for rural health care providers to securely transfer medical image files to and from the cloud.

“Those providers lack area network telecommunications bandwidth,” says Dr. Ghosh. “Our students will learn to use a centralized cloud server and multiple edge servers between the cloud server and health care providers so that they can safely transfer that data.”

About the CEDI

The CAE-Cybersecurity Education Diversity Initiative is sponsored by NSA’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE-C) program office and stems from the Minority Serving Institutions Working Group (MSI-WG). CAE-CEDI works to connect Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), who can benefit from developing or expanding cybersecurity related offerings, with the resources needed to further their institutions.

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