Alona KryshchenkoJuly 23, 2018 - Research she began as a graduate student in her native Ukraine has developed into a project that just earned Assistant Professor of Mathematics Alona Kryshchenko, Ph.D., a grant from Golden State Medical Supply.

The CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) statistician received $19,161 to support a project called “GSMS (Golden State Medical Supply) Repackaged Drug Container-Closure System Analysis Project.”

Kryshchenko’s project involves the development of a statistical formula to figure out how to repackage pharmaceutical products into various containers and preserve quality of the drug. Her primary research area is in pharmacokinetics. She is developing algorithms that estimate how individual patients are metabolizing different pharmaceutical drugs.

“It’s important to know this relationship because drugs like antibiotics are very sensitive,” explained Kryshchenko. “You don’t want to give a patient too much or too little. You don’t want a patient to get an overdose, and if there is too little of the drug, it can result in a body developing resistance and you start running out of options for that patient.”

Many factors can affect how much of a drug a body absorbs, such as genetics, size, weight, gender, age and a host of other characteristics.

What Kryshchenko will do is develop a reliable statistical model to estimate how different groups of people will metabolize different drugs, based on blood samples of specific populations.

“If we had tattoos with all of this information, it would be easy to treat every person,” she said. “But we don’t, so we as mathematicians create a model for the best estimation.”

GSMS is a pharmaceutical company that repackages pharmaceutical products, which means they receive bags of a drug from manufacturer and pack them into smaller bottles with a fixed dosage.

Kryshchenko is also collaborating with the Children's Hospital Los Angeles Laboratory of Applied Pharmacokinetics and Bioinformatics, which is comprised of a team of experts whose job it is to research drug behavior in populations of patients to find the best dose for an individual patient.

Kryschenko joined the lab after graduating from the University of Southern California with her Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Kyiv National University of Taras Shevchenko.

“I got interested in estimation problems back in Ukraine,” she said. “Statistics is such an applied field whereas some areas of mathematics are so abstract, maybe people won’t be able to use it immediately, it’s more of an art. But statistics is so cool that your research findings will be able to be used right away to help people.”

"The beauty of mathematics," she said, "is that like music, it speaks a universal language that people all over the globe can speak."