Alumna Shefali Umrania works
to reduce diagnostic errors in
the health care industry

by Matthew Salyers


In an office building above the bustling streets of lower Manhattan in New York City, recent computational biology alumna Shefali Umrania brainstorms novel machine learning ideas that could aid in the diagnostic care of millions of patients. Umrania, who earned her master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2018, works at Imagen Technologies, a Series B startup company whose goal is to reduce diagnostic errors from radiology.

As a research engineer, Umrania brings these ideas to fruition, implementing and testing the proposed models on Imagen’s proprietary datasets to build cutting-edge diagnostic products. She became more aware of positions like hers in the startup world during her time at CMU.

“When I started in the M.S. in Computational Biology (MSCB) program, I knew that I wanted a career at the intersection of computer science and biology,” Umrania said. “However, the different courses I took as part of the program allowed me to focus my career options while also giving me the skills to pursue them. Speaking to alumni also helped narrow my career choices and finally ‘find’ the career that I love today.”

The skills Umrania gained at CMU are used on a daily basis. Her machine learning coursework helped build the foundation of her expertise, while she credits her time in a lab as incredibly beneficial in honing her problem-solving techniques.

“The skills I gained in Dr. Tai-Sing Lee’s research lab are helping me conduct novel experiments and draw inferences, which steer the overall product in the company,” said Umrania. “Moreover, the math and biology courses I took at CMU strengthened my overall fundamentals, which I feel makes my life easier every day when I am statistically analyzing our experimental data.”

Umrania suggests that current MSCB students explore courses or research that they might have not pursued otherwise in order to broaden their horizons.

“Learn more about all that can be obtained from the program,” Umrania said, “And don’t underestimate the importance or power of extracurricular leadership activities. CMU can be tough but it is all worth it and having a great group of friends around you makes it easier.”