Aileen Johnson wins Grady Resident Research Day Poster Competition

May 2021

Aileen Johnson, MD, general surgery resident in the first year of her two-year research sabbatical, won the poster competition held for Resident Research Day at Grady Memorial Hospital. Her poster was entitled "hlaR: A Streamlined Tool for Eplet Analysis," and described technology she developed with her mentor Christian Larsen, MD, DPhil, and research informatics analyst Joan Zhang, MS, in Dr. Larsen's transplant immunology lab.

HLAMatchmaker, created by Rene Duquesnoy, PhD, in 2007, is a donor-recipient compatibility algorithm based on eplets — clusters of polymorphic amino acids located on the surface of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules — that may react with antibodies, and is used to identify acceptable mismatches of HLA molecules, thereby increasing transplantation chances in highly sensitized patients. However, HLAMatchmaker requires high-resolution typing and data analyses to be manually performed with labor-intensive Microsoft Excel programs, a process prone to error and difficult to scale.

Dr. Johnson's poster details the creation and functionality of hlaR, a web app and R software package capable of intaking low-resolution HLA typing, imputing data to high-resolution, and performing eplet analysis. The tool compiles these multiple resources into one highly scalable interface with improved ease of use and reproducibility.