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Meharry Medical College Data Science Institute to impact
health policy, talent pipeline, clinical standards
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The Meharry Medical College Data Science Institute (DSI) is destined to directly affect the actions of policymakers and medical professionals and will help shape standards of medical care, said Amy Andrade PhD, who leads the Institute.

Andrade is Meharry's assistant vice president for research and senior advisor for technology and innovation for Meharry President and CEO James E.K. Hildreth PhD M.D.

Dr. James Hildreth

Harvard-, Johns Hopkins and Oxford-educated Dr. Hildreth became CEO of Meharry in 2015. Work toward creation of the DSI has advanced since his arrival.

He serves as the 12th chief of the institution since its formation as a university medical department in 1875 and its independent chartering in 1915. Dr. Hildreth's bio here. College history here.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Hildreth served as director of the NIH-funded Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research at Meharry. Among other focuses, he has been involved in AIDS research since at least 1986 and in 2008 he was elected to the Institute of Medicine within the National Institutes of Health.

The DSI plans to report on its initial diabetes- and hypertension-related findings by the end of this year, Andrade told Venture Nashville. Her bio is here.

DSI's portfolio of research on "diseases that disparately affect poor and minority populations," will also include cardiovascular disease and obesity.

DSI's anonymized and de-identified data is "drawn from 200,000 unique patients who visited Nashville General Hospital, Meharry Medical Group and Meharry's Dental School clinics over the last ten years," the College said in a September release, adding that DSI's "data framework will connect with any other IT infrastructure or data source, ensuring providers and researchers have access to real data in real time."

Amy Andrade PhD

In a followup to Meharry's Sept. 13 announcement of the creation of DSI, Andrade told VNC, in part, "Once we implement our recommendations and begin to prove our hypothesis, we'll work to educate the public and change the national standards of care. In addition to publishing our findings and presenting at conferences, we will:

1. Impact policy by working with the Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College to connect with Congressmen and Senators, educate the public, and introduce legislation at state and national levels.

2. Build a robust pipeline of minority medical doctors, dentists and researches who understand the unique risk factors for minority populations, practice the Meharry standards of care, and are trained to help address public policy and changes to national standards of care.

3. Implement changes to the national standards of care by working with the American Medical Association (AMA), Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the National Medical Association (NMA) to expand our pilot study and use our recommendations at more hospitals nationally. Expanding our study will help us prove actionable results on a larger scale."

Jacksonville, Fla.-based health data management company Clearsense worked with Meharry to build the data infrastructure for the Institute.

The College explains on its website that its work on the DSI and Center have been underway more than a year; excerpts:

Teaching - The DSC is collaborating with Meharry's schools of dentistry, graduate studies and research and medicine to develop a curricular "thread" that utilizes inter-professional education and small group learning. This thread provides an introduction to the concepts of big data science, precision medicine, and population health management. Learners develop the basic competencies to understand the impact of "big data" on their individual disciplines.

Research - The DSC brings together the major data sources at Meharry into a structured data ecosystem to allow aggregation, integration, and analysis. The data resources draw from more than 25 sources in the schools of medicine, dentistry and graduate studies and research. The data will be housed in a cloud storage environment that will facilitate aggregation and will provide a valuable data lake utilizing hadoop as the infrastructure framework.

VNC research and Clearsense's website indicate the boutique data firm is significantly allied with Santa Clara-based HortonWorks (NASDAQ:HDP, market cap $1.5BN). VNC

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Tags: Amy Andrade, analytics, cardiovascular disease, data, data science, Data Science Institute, diabetes, healthcare, hypertension, James Hildreth, medicine, Meharry Medical College, minorities, Nashville General Hospital, obesity


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