Interdisciplinary Health Data Competition

Past Competitions


The University of Minnesota Interdisciplinary Health Data Competition began in 2020 to promote interdisciplinary dialogue on how to use data to address current healthcare challenges. In this competition, students complete an exploratory analysis of specified datasets to provide innovative solutions and insights using data science tools and methodologies.  This event encourages graduate students across all disciplines at the Twin Cities campus to practice, enhance, and showcase their understanding of real-world healthcare problems and their abilities to solve them with innovative use of data science. 


2021 Competition Information



The 2nd annual competition will ask teams to complete an exploratory analysis of COVID-19-related data to assess health disparities and the community impact of COVID-19.  Teams can select a topic that is of interest to them.  Example topics will be provided for teams to consider.

This competition is open to any graduate or professional degree-seeking student across the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Teams must consist of students from at least two colleges to encourage cross-discipline collaboration.  



Recorded March 30, 2021                                             Recorded March 8, 2021



Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Health Data Competition!

1st Place

The Effect of Lifting Mask Mandates 

  • Anna Errore - PhD, Supply Chain and Operations, Carlson School 
  • Bhupinder Juneja - PhD, Bioinformatics & Computational Biology, Bioscience/Biotechnology
  • Finn Petersen - PhD, Supply Chain and Operations, Carlson School 
  • Eric Xu - PhD, Supply Chain and Operations, Carlson School 

2nd Place

Modeling Disparities in COVID-19 Burden Amongst Racial Communities 

  • Neel Chatterjee - PhD, Electrical & Computer Engineering, College of Science & Engineering
  • Somya Sharma - PhD, Computer Science, College of Science & Engineering
  • Marten Thompson - PhD, Statistics, School of Statistics
  • Yash Travadi - PhD, Statistics, School of Statistics
  • Christina Zhao - PhD, Statistics, School of Statistics

3rd Place

Racial Health Disparity in COVID-19 Case Fatality Rate 

  • Sam (Yu-Chia) Hsu, PharmD - PhD, Social and Administrative Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy 
  • Hezkiel Nanda - PhD, Translational Bioinformatics, Institute for Health Informatics
  • Pui Ying Yew - PhD, Health Informatics, Institute for Health Informatics

Teams are required to use at least ONE of the datasets from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) below:

Teams can use additional sources for their project, however only public data can be used. 


  • February 17: Registration opens
  • March 3: Last day to register
  • March 8: Competition kickoff and data release, 12:00 pm CST - Watch the recorded Kickoff 
  • March 21: All project submissions due by 11:59 pm CST
  • March 26: Finalists announced
  • March 30: Finalists' presentations, 4:00 pm CST - REGISTER TO WATCH PRESENTATIONSREGISTER FOR NETWORKING
  • March 31: Winners announced
  • April 2: Exclusive celebration & networking (invite only)


  • Matt Chock, Lead of Inventory & Networking Contracting, Bind Benefits
  • Trevor Fast, FSA, Chief Actuary, Bind Benefits
  • Tarun Jain, Country Director, Psyinnovations Inc
  • Molly Jeffery, PhD, Scientific Director, Division of Emergency Medicine, Mayo Clinic
  • Todd Johnson, Director of Technical Services, IZiel Healthcare
  • Arjun Kataria, Business Analyst Consultant, UnitedHealth Group
  • Brendan Krause, Vice President for Europe, OptumLabs
  • Spencer Merchant, Product Director, UnitedHealth Group
  • Donna Spencer, PhD, Principal Scientist, OptumLabs
  • Caitlin Carroll, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
  • Joel Farley, PhD, Professor, Associate Head, Department of Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems, College of Pharmacy
  • Russell Funk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Carlson School of Management
  • Steve Johnson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute of Health Informatics Director, University of Minnesota
  • Pinar Karaca-Mandic, PhD, Professor, MILI Academic Director, Carlson School of Management
  • De Liu, PhD, Professor, Carlson School of Management
  • Karen Monsen, PhD, RN, Professor, School of Nursing
  • Helen Parsons, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Public Health
  • Ashwini Sankar, PhD, Research Assistant, Carlson School of Management


  • Protima Advani, Vice President, Senior Policy Researcher, UnitedHealth Group
  • Darrin Dickerson, Senior Director of Strategy & Business Development, Medtronic
  • Michael Jones, Managing Director, Accenture
  • Tamra Lair, PhD, Chief Analytics Officer, Bind Benefits
  • Nick Mattison, Systems Director, Clinical & Quality Data Analytics, MHealth Fairview
  • Pam Mink, PhD, Director of Health Services Research, Minnesota Department of Health
  • Mark Wehde, Chair, Division of Engineering, Mayo Clinic
  • Submit a one-page Executive Summary - maximum of 500 words (not including references) 
  • Submit a PowerPoint presentation outlining the team's project - maximum of 20 slides 
  • Record a voice-over with PowerPoint, presenting the team's analysis, insights, and innovations - maximum of 20 minutes
  • Finalists will virtually present projects to judges - each team has 20 minutes to present followed by 5 minutes for judges' questions
  • A rubric will be provided when data is released on March 8
  • Competition is open to all current graduate and professional degree-seeking students
  • Maximum of 5 students per team 
  • Each team must have students from at least 2 different colleges or schools within the U of M Twin Cities
  • Students may only participate on one team
  • You can form your own team or request to be placed on a team
  • No individual entries are allowed
  • First Place Team: $4,000
  • Second Place Team: $2,000
  • Third Place Team: $1,000

How do I record the voiceover for the presentation?  

  • Teams can use any method of recording the voice-over on their slides; however, we recommend VoiceThread or Zoom.

I registered as an individual. When will I find out what team I am on? 

  • Emails will be sent by March 5th to all registered participants and will include their team members' information as well as other important details.   

What is the "invisible dip" referring to in the cases of Texas's neighboring states, was that due to a reporting delay? 

  • Yes, it was due to the big winter storm that hit. Storms have caused a ton of reporting disruptions over time. So, we recommend to put that in teams' 'sanity checks'. If you see some weird wobble, search the news and make sure there wasn’t a hurricane or an ice storm that generated that problem. What happens is that storms slow down every data pipeline, but no one knows how much is not being reported. Then in the days (really 10-14 days afterward) that data comes back in and you see the numbers jump after they dove. So, if you see that pattern, a really steep dive and then a jump, you should tune your intuition to see that as a likely reporting problem until proven differently.

Question about the Community Excel file - Can I see data specific to a demographic category? I am looking at the County tab, and I can filter for specific counties; (e.g. I was trying to see the number of cases in Native American population in the specific county that I selected).

Are there rules about not contacting hospitals and other organizations represented in the data?

  • Please try to limit the use to publicly available data. Hospitals are extremely burdened, we need to make sure not to add any burden

Is there a data freeze/timeframe for these datasets? Or is anything released at any time fair game

  • No particular freeze date as long as you can complete your analysis and submit it on the required due date

Are we more in favor of an exploratory analysis?

  • It is up to your team whether you want to do exploratory analysis, or predictive analysis or take another approach. 


Submit the Question Submission form to get your questions answered and possibly add to the FAQ. 

Register to Participate

Registration is closed.


Click the button below to submit questions

about the competition.



Kim Choyke

MILI Program Administrator