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Dell Medical School’s Big Data Hub to Address Population Health

Dell Medical School’s new Biomedical Data Science Hub will leverage big data analytics to advance population health research.

Dell Medical School's big data hub will address population health

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin has launched a Biomedical Data Science Hub that will enhance population health research with big data analytics.

Data scientists at Dell Med are currently working to extract health data from disparate sources to show how both clinical and nonclinical factors affect communities.

The Biomedical Data Science Hub will determine the best ways to use digital information to answer important population health questions, such as how to prevent and treat diabetes.

“The Biomedical Data Science Hub is the next natural component to complement Dell Med’s data core, because that’s how we will be able to target the right problems with the right approaches and know whether the improvements made are actually working for individuals and the community as a whole,” said Bill Tierney, MD, chair of Dell Med’s Department of Population Health.

The hub will help analyze the data, determine whether to use classical analysis techniques or the latest machine learning algorithms, and identify other resources at UT Austin that will accelerate clinical discoveries.

“To increase the pace of innovation in health, high-quality data needs to be ubiquitous and analysis much richer, and that’s what we’re trying to achieve with the data hub,” said Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, Dean of the Medical School.

“UT already has so much strength in this area, and now it’s about directing that toward the key questions in health including addressing health inequities in our community.”

The data science hub will employ a team of computer, information, and statistical scientists who will collaborate across the University of Texas network, including the College of Natural Science, the College of Liberal Arts, and the UTHealth School of Public Health.

Together, these entities will develop innovative ways to analyze clinical and non-clinical health data.

“A framework involving basic and clinical research could catalyze a lot of collaborations, accelerate discoveries and open up new research fields that we wouldn’t otherwise think of individually,” said Hans Hoffman, PhD, Director of UT’s Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.

“As a researcher, when I see that someone across campus is grappling with the same problem I have, it opens up the possibility of us working together. That’s what I’m hoping that making these large sets of data available to the community will do for us.”

Paul Rathouz, PhD, will serve as the Founding Director of the Biomedical Data Science Hub, and will recruit biostatisticians and epidemiologists to conduct research on the intersection of data and health.

“Dell Medical School is poised to make the study and advancement of human health, health care and preventive medicine a fully evidence-based and data-driven endeavor,” said Rathouz, a professor in the Department of Population Health.

“The state of data science is at a most exciting threshold society-wide, with new analytic, predictive and computational techniques — but in human health and health care, we have only begun to benefit from this revolution. In the end, the answers to most questions come down to the quality, treatment and interpretation of the data.”

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