Life at ZS

ZS’s innovation recognized by the US and UK governments

By Kailah Peters

June 16, 2023 | Article | 3-minute read

ZS’s innovation recognized by the US and UK governments

ZS’s roots in academia and innovation began when its two founders met as professors at Northwestern University. For the better part of the firm’s 40-year history, ZSers have been well recognized as experts in solving commercial life sciences problems. As we have expanded our R&D capabilities, our team has also become more knowledgeable in the sciences of life sciences and healthcare at large.


We participate in competitions and conduct scientific research to broaden our expertise and challenge our teams. At the second Summit for Democracy, the White House and the United Kingdom announced ZS as a winner in a U.S. and U.K. prize challenge exploring innovations in privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs).


Principal Qin Ye led a team of passionate ZSers as they built an artificial intelligence (AI) solution that forecasts infection risks for individuals in a pandemic while protecting patient information. The competition allowed ZS to combine our deep experience in data security, AI technology and innovation to address practical data privacy concerns in real world scenarios.

Where passion changes lives

Qin joined ZS after making a career pivot. A physician turned implementation technologist turned consultant, Qin has now been with ZS for seven years, working as a practice leader overseeing integrated evidence work. “I was attracted to ZS because the people here are problem-solvers who care deeply about improving patient outcomes and healthcare at large,” he says.


Qin is always on the lookout for opportunities to explore innovation. In early October, when his team brought to his attention the PETs prize challenge, he felt drawn to the question of protecting patient privacy while leveraging patient data to uncover insights on pandemic forecasting. Though the competition was different than his team’s average day-to-day, Qin encouraged his team to participate in the challenge. He connected with colleagues across the globe, including Sagar Madgi, Mayank Shah, Shaishav Jain, Md. Umar Faraque, Parika Vyas, Kapil Jain and Pranava Goundan to form a team with a wide range of expertise.


The prize challenges’ technical brief instructed innovators such as Qin and his team “to develop privacy-preserving federated learning solutions to forecast an individual’s risk of infection, leveraging a combination of input and output privacy techniques.” ZSers and other participants “had access to a synthetic dataset created by the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute, which represented a digital twin of a population with statistical and dynamical properties similar to a real population.”


The work excited and invigorated the team. “We got to collaborate and compete with world-class teams from MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon and more. Though it was virtual, we could see the talent, skill and critical thinking from all the participants,” Qin recalls.


Together, the ZS team built an AI tool that can predict an individual’s risk of infection while protecting their privacy. “Pandemic forecasting is one of hundreds or thousands of problems the underlying model construct can solve,” Qin explains. “The overall architecture behind it can scale to solve problems like federated evidence generation, trial matching or addressing care gaps and health equity.”


ZS is proud to have been recognized by the White house and United Kingdom at the Summit for Democracy. To celebrate winning this competition, key team representatives traveled to the Royal Society House in London for a ceremony and roundtable hosted by both the U.S. and U.K. governments.

To stay updated on our work innovating healthcare and beyond, follow ZS on social media.

Life at ZS

Learn what it’s like to be a ZSer: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Add insights to your inbox

We’ll send you content you’ll want to read – and put to use.