Critical review of the paper titled “ A Graph Database Approach for Temporal Modeling of Disease Progression”

Memarzadeh, H., Ghadiri, N., & Parikhah Zarmehr, S. (2018). A graph database approach for temporal modeling of disease progression. 2018 8th International Conference on Computer and Knowledge Engineering (ICCKE) (pp. 293-297). IEEE.


The paper by Memarzadeh et al. proposes using a graph database (Neo4j) for temporal modeling and analysis of disease progression, with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the patterns and trajectories of chronic disease progression is crucial for predicting potential health risks, planning interventions, and improving patient outcomes. The authors argue that graph databases offer a flexible and scalable framework for integrating and linking longitudinal medical data from various sources, enabling the exploration of temporal relationships and patterns within individual patient histories.


One of the strengths of this study is its novel approach of leveraging graph databases for modeling and analyzing disease progression over time. Graph databases are well-suited for representing and querying interconnected data, making them potentially valuable tools for handling the complexities of longitudinal medical records. The ability to traverse relationships and detect patterns within individual patient histories could provide valuable insights into disease trajectories.

The authors demonstrate the practical application of their approach by importing and modeling real-world medical data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) dataset into the Neo4j graph database. The paper presents visualizations of patient transaction sequences and conversion transitions, which aid in understanding the proposed methodology and interpreting the results.

However, the paper has some limitations that could be addressed in future work. While the authors present the results of their approach in terms of transition matrices and conversion transition diagrams, a more in-depth analysis and discussion of the findings would have been beneficial. The paper could have explored the implications and potential applications of the extracted patterns in greater detail, such as informing risk prediction models or personalized treatment plans.

Another limitation is the narrow scope of the study, which focuses solely on final diagnoses (e.g., NL, MCI, AD) and does not incorporate additional clinical parameters or medical events. Incorporating more comprehensive patient data, such as comorbidities, laboratory results, and treatment information, could enhance the accuracy and applicability of the disease progression model.

Furthermore, the paper lacks a formal evaluation or validation of the proposed approach against existing methods or ground truth data. Comparing the performance and accuracy of the graph database approach with traditional statistical or machine learning models for disease progression would have strengthened the paper’s contributions and provided a more objective assessment of its merits.


Overall, the paper by Memarzadeh et al. presents an interesting and novel approach to modeling disease progression using graph databases. The authors demonstrate the potential of their method by applying it to real-world Alzheimer’s disease data from the ADNI dataset. However, the paper would have benefited from a more in-depth analysis of the findings, incorporation of additional clinical data, formal evaluation and validation, and a more comprehensive discussion of the implications and potential applications of the proposed approach.

Despite its limitations, the paper highlights the potential of graph databases in healthcare and could serve as a starting point for further research in this area. Future work could explore more comprehensive data integration, advanced pattern detection techniques, and validation against established disease progression models or clinical outcomes.



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