Make The Connection

July 25, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

Helping HeartWorks

Ohio Wesleyan Student Crunches Data for Mayo Clinic Research Affiliate

David Shakarashvili ’24

Name: David Shakarashvili ’24
Hometown: Rustavi, Georgia (country)
Majors: Computer Science and Data Analytics
OWU Connection Experience: Data analytics internship with HeartWorks Inc. supported by a grant from Ohio Wesleyan’s Career Connection

Shakarashvili is spending two months this summer completing a remote internship with HeartWorks, a nonprofit focused on funding the development of cell-based products to cure congenital heart disease. His supervisor is Clinton Hagen, M.S.

HeartWorks, based in Rochester, Minnesota, was created to accelerate and expand work pioneered by the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The program was founded at Mayo Clinic in 2010. Shakarashvili’s experience was facilitated by OWU alumnus E. Rolland Dickson, M.D. ’55, an emeritus professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Analyzing Big Data

“In simple terms, my role involves working with data from clinical trials to put together a report for the Data Safety Monitoring Board. The teams from HeartWorks and Mayo are working on clinical trials hoping to improve the hearts of babies born with congenital heart diseases. I analyze, manipulate, and visualize big data and put it together in a way that makes it understandable and meaningful for the decision-makers.”

Supporting Career Goals

“My internship is directly connected to my academic studies at Ohio Wesleyan. Technical skills that I use at work are the skills I learned in my Programming and Data Analytics classes.”

Research Goals

“The overall goal is to create a program that automatically generates reports for the Data Safety Monitoring Board meetings. Currently, the board meets every six months, and manually compiling a report from clinical trials is a time-consuming task. The aim is to create an automated program that can read in new data every six months and generate the report without the need for manual work.”

My Favorite Moment

“My favorite moments are the coworking sessions I have with my mentors. Despite working remotely from overseas, these sessions truly make me feel like an integral part of the team.”

Lessons Learned

“I have developed a lot of technical skills related to computer science and data analytics, but most importantly I learned that I enjoy working in the medical field a lot, and I am going to consider pursuing similar career opportunities after graduation. I learned that I like working remotely a lot. A flexible schedule and a hybrid work model are definitely things I will be looking for in my future jobs.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan?

“I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan because I was seeking to go to a small private university that offered strong academic programs and placed a big emphasis on experiential learning opportunities like internships, research programs, and study abroad programs. OWU seemed to align with my requirements and goals.”

My Plans After Graduation

“My specific plans are not clear at this moment, but I am hoping to get an industry job in Software Engineering or Data Science after graduation and work for a couple of years before I decide to further continue my higher education.

“Experiences I have gained during my time at Ohio Wesleyan, such as my internship and study abroad semester at Engineering School of Madrid, have prepared me to go toward my dream career path with a lot of skills and connections I made along the way.”