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Payne named associate dean for health information and data science

Becomes School of Medicine’s chief data scientist

by Elizabethe Holland DurandoJuly 29, 2020

Matt Miller

Philip R.O. Payne, PhD, director of the Institute for Informatics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named associate dean for health information and data science, and chief data scientist for the School of Medicine.

Payne, also the Janet and Bernard Becker Professor, will provide strategic oversight of a portfolio of programs and activities focused on creating and operating a comprehensive data, information and knowledge enterprise that supports the School of Medicine’s research, education and clinical care missions. As associate dean, he will oversee the Institute for Informatics with its newly incorporated team from the Division of Biostatistics, as well as the Bernard Becker Medical Library and the Office of the Chief Research Information Officer. This represents an alignment of critical units across the School of Medicine that are integral to a modern health-care system and top-tier academic health center.

As the school’s first chief data scientist, he will share oversight of data analytics and digital health initiatives that support Washington University Physicians, as well as data architecture, infrastructure and governance efforts that support School of Medicine operations. These new roles are designed to bring a comprehensive approach to data and data science in response to the changing landscape of health care and biomedical research.

“In many ways, Philip and his team in the Institute for Informatics already have begun to realize this vision through their work creating models and using predictive analytics to better empower our clinical operations, research and public health initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor.

The institute’s Center for Population Health Informatics, led by Randi Foraker, PhD, has built geospatial maps detailing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, including their distribution by race, showing that while Black citizens make up roughly 20% of the area’s population, they account for 60% of COVID-positive patients. This information is critical to addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the community.

“Philip’s wealth of knowledge in informatics and data science, deep experience in strategic planning, and great success in spurring invaluable collaborations make me extremely confident that informatics and data science will continue to play an increasingly key part in all aspects of the School of Medicine,” Perlmutter said.

Payne was recruited to launch the Institute of Informatics in 2016. Since then, he has recruited more than a dozen core faculty members and numerous affiliated faculty members spanning 10 departments and three schools. He also has significantly expanded the school’s educational portfolio with new certificate, master’s and PhD programs in biomedical informatics and data science, as well as emerging international education programs that help to recruit talented students from across the globe. Further, the institute has developed valuable collaborations with the Institute for Public Health, Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences, BJC HealthCare, Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, the Healthcare Innovation Lab, BioSTL, McDonnell International Scholars Academy, McKelvey School of Engineering, Brown School, and Olin School of Business.

Payne also has continued to forge his reputation as an internationally recognized leader in the fields of translational bioinformatics and clinical research informatics. His research is supported by grants and contracts from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, the National Library of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute, as well as a variety of awards from nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. In recognition of his contributions to the field of biomedical informatics, he has been elected a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and the American Medical Informatics Association.

He was recruited from The Ohio State University, where he was professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and director of the Institute for Translational Data Analytics. He received his PhD with distinction in biomedical informatics from Columbia University, where his research focused on the use of knowledge engineering and human-computer interaction design principles to improve the efficiency of multisite clinical and translational research programs. Before pursuing his graduate training, he served in several technical and leadership roles at the University of California San Diego’s Shiley Eye Institute and Moores Cancer Center.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.