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State of Affairs (BIDS Fall 2023 Newsletter)

October 02, 2023

I want to share with you some highlights of the new Section of Biomedical Informatics & Data Science (BIDS). The past nine months have gone so fast that we have hardly had time to reflect on how much has already been accomplished by a growing team of dedicated faculty, staff, trainees, with support from multiple Yale colleagues in other units (too many to list here).

It does take a village to mount an academic start-up, and we were so fortunate that the Yale community welcomed us to New Haven with open arms, helping us every step (and misstep) of the way. While we were learning processes and procedures at Yale, we have been able to make tremendous progress in our three mission areas:

1. Research

Research in informatics and data science, as well as its applications in clinical and basic sciences span various disease areas and technologies such as Natural Language Processing, AI/Machine Learning/polygenic risk scores, privacy technology, blockchain, social determinants of health, behavioral economics, etc. We started with a small group of faculty, and now total 29 primary appointments and 31 secondary appointments. BIDS primary faculty led 18 grant submissions as PI/MPI since January, and we participated in 13 others led by faculty from other departments (medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, psychiatry, to name a few). Our research staff (non-academic) grew to 20 professionals.

2. Service

We are re-engineering processes for clinical data access and analyses, as well as developing the computational infrastructure needed to employ AI and advanced analytics in a secure and privacy-protecting manner. In 2024, we will launch initiatives that allow researchers to compute with these data as well as data from other institutions participating in large clinical research networks. We are also partnering with the Cushing Library to determine which high-valued data sets would best serve the needs of Yale researchers (e.g., UK biobank, claims data, etc.), as well as for training in the use of popular data sets such those from the All of Us Research Program (we have launched a pilot recruitment site for the program right here in New Haven with help from the YCCI). Informatics and data science are critical components of precision medicine, and we will collaborate with colleagues from various units to ensure Yale is recognized as a leader in this area. Our goal is to ensure that informatics and data science are used not only to document health disparities, but are also used to reduce them.

3. Training & Education

We always keep in mind the university’s primary mission: disseminate knowledge to ensure that the products of research and service have a high impact in the real world, especially related to human health. We are slowly growing our trainee group, with 131 students across five programs and 11 postdoctoral fellows mentored by BIDS faculty. We also promote career development opportunities for staff and continued learning for all. BIDS faculty teach 17 graduate courses. We are designing new programs too.

I hope you will all work with us and follow our progress over time so we can look back in a couple of years and say that we saw BIDS grow from a concept into a full-fledged, leading academic unit nationally and internationally. There is nothing more exciting than creating something new and seeing that it has made an impact in people’s lives. Thank you all so much for your warm welcome and contributions. Let’s do this together!

Lucila Ohno-Machado, MD, MBA, PhD

Waldemar von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics and Data Science | Deputy Dean for Biomedical Informatics | Chair, Section of Biomedical Informatics & Data Science

Submitted by Akio Tamura-Ho on September 19, 2023