A Letter from DBMI Leadership — Return to Work Update

Hi everyone, 

May has arrived and as we continue through our 15th month of remote work, we want you to know that planning meetings to discuss our “return to work” process are underway.

We currently do not have any immediate plans or definitive dates on when we can return to the office. However, we are working closely with the institution and Human Resources to determine the best course of action. Because our students (and a few staff) are under Vanderbilt University, and others are Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we have to be especially cognizant of the various policies.

We certainly recognize the importance of solidifying a proper return to work plan soon and re-connecting in person, so we are planning accordingly and will keep you up-to-date as soon as we hear more. 

Thank you,
DBMI Leadership

Table of Contents

  1. Department News & Announcements
  2. Faculty News
  3. Educational Updates
  4. DBMI Spotlight: Aileen Wright
  5. MyVUMC
  6. Funding Opporunities 
  7. HR Updates
  8. Open Positions + Upcoming Events

Department News & Announcements

WATCH: VUMC DBMI Educational Opportunities & Programs Video

Do you know someone who is interested in getting a master’s or PhD in informatics or looking for an informatics postdoctoral training opportunity? Share this video via email or on social media and encourage prospective students/postdocs to apply! Be sure to tag @vumcDBMI on Twitter.

May is Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Twitter Profiles — Call for Submissions: 

In recognition of both AAPI Heritage Month & Mental Health Awareness Month, we would like to feature the stories of a few faculty, staff, students or postdocs on Twitter. If you identify as AAPI or have mental health/wellness tips to share, please email Mia Garchitorena at mia.garchitorena@vumc.org!
In the meantime, below are some resources

Vanderbilt LGBTQ Health Shares Resources for Mental Health Awareness Month

This past year has also highlighted the need for resources that address LGBTQ mental health.
This month, the Vanderbilt LGBTQ Health organization is sharing resources focused on mental health, starting with this PDF: https://thementalhealthcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Mental-Health_LGBTQ-Final.pdf.

Daniel Fabbri Featured in VUMC Reporter Story on "Exceptional Jo" Recognition Program

During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VUMC Patient Experience team created an initiative called the “Exceptional Jo” Recognition Program to connect positive comments from patient surveys with the clinician or workforce members being recognized in those comments. “Exceptional Jo” stemmed from the “Defining Personalized Care” e-learnings initiative.
During Patient Experience Week (April 26-30), the Patient Experience team celebrated the one-year anniversary of its “Exceptional Jo” Recognition Program. The program uses an internal employee analytics portal, developed by Daniel Fabbri, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, to automatically match a comment on a patient experience survey to the employee who accessed that patient’s record in eStar.
This computed match allows the Patient Experience Team to send the comment in a personalized recognition email to the employee mentioned. For example, Beth Singleton, RN (pictured left), received the patient comment: “Elizabeth Singleton was excellent; the best I have ever had. She is a credit to her profession and should be commended.” Read more in the VUMC Reporter here.

Phenotyping Coronavirus Disease 2019 During a Global Health Pandemic: Lessons Learned from the Characterization of an Early Cohort

A new study published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics explored the challenges of phenotyping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Authors of the study include Sarah DeLozier, Sarah Bland, Melissa McPheeters, Cosmin (Adi) Bejan, Daniel Fabbri, Trent Rosenbloom, Dan Roden, Kevin Johnson, Wei-Qi Wei, Josh Peterson and Lisa Bastarache. Dr. Bastarache discussed the study on Twitter and the potential pitfalls of using health record data to learn about COVID. Read her Twitter thread here.

Faculty News

10 DBMI Faculty Named 2021 Fellows of AMIA
Congratulations to the 10 faculty members in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), who were named Fellows of AMIA! They will be inducted into the FAMIA during the AMIA 2021 Virtual Clinical Informatics Conference. As per the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), these members are now authorized to use the designation "FAMIA" in connection with their professional activities. See the 10 inductees here.

Stuart Weinberg Received Special Achievement Award from American Academy of Pediatrics

Stuart Weinberg, MD, FAAP, FAMIAAssociate Professor in DBMI & Pediatrics in the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University, received the Special Achievement Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). He was honored at the virtual presentation of the District IV Awards of Chapter Excellence & Special Achievement Awards on May 6.
The Special Achievement Awards are given to individuals who have made a substantial contribution to their state Chapter. Dr. Weinberg received the award for helping to establish the Tennessee Chapter of the AAP's (TNAAP) endowment fund.

Alvin Jeffery Published Editorial on Using AI & Machine Learning to Treat Sepsis

On May 4, Alvin Jeffery, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor in DBMI, published his first invited editorial, titled "Can artificial intelligence and machine learning help us treat sepsis?" The editorial was featured in Intensive and Critical Care Nursing
"In order for predictive models to have the best chance at improving health outcomes, they not only need to perform well on metrics that are important to clinicians but they also need to be placed into clinical environments in ways that are considerate of the context in which they’re expected to contribute," he said. Read the editorial here.

Dan Roden Honored With Oscar B. Hunter Career Award in Therapeutics & VUSM Teaching Award

Dan Roden, MD, Senior Vice President for Personalized Medicine at VUMC and Professor in DBMI, received the Oscar B. Hunter Career Award in Therapeutics at the virtual annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Read more in the VUMC Reporter here.
Dr. Roden also received Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's F. Peter Guengerich PhD Award for Excellence in Teaching for his work with mentoring postdoctoral fellows or residents in a research setting. 

Extracting Accurate COVID Data from Scanned Forms

Clinical teams at VUMC use electronic forms for patient intake, but for various operational reasons, teams devoted to COVID outpatient intake used paper assessment forms. In Applied Clinical Informatics, Colin White-Dzuro, Dr. Fabbri and colleagues report their use of optical mark/character recognition software and a novel user interface to extract data from the scanned forms. Read more in the VUMC Reporter here.

Colin Walsh & Bill Stead Featured in Discover

Colin Walsh, MD, MA, FAMIA, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Medicine & Psychiatry, and Bill Stead, MD, FACMI, McKesson Foundation Professor of Biomedical Informatics & Professor of Medicine, led a study on the use of AI-based, natural language analysis of EHRs to shed light on suicidal ideation and attempted suicide. Read more in Discover here.

Juan Zhao, Wei-Qi Wei & Team Analyzed Clinical Notes to Identify COVID Symptoms

In setting out in the early days of the pandemic to identify clinical characteristics of COVID-19, Juan Zhao, PhD, Research Assistant Professor in DBMI, Wei-Qi Wei, MD, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI, and colleagues used a new method they call concept-wide association study, or conceptWAS, to analyze clinical notes of 19,692 adult patients who received COVID testing at VUMC between March 8 and May 27, 2020. Read more in the VUMC Reporter here.

COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium Study Highlights Racial Disparities, Increased Mortality for Patients Facing Dual Diagnoses

The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium published new findings in the Annals of Oncology showing heightened mortality and racial disparities for patients with cancer diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, FAMIA, Associate Professor of Medicine (Hematology/Oncology) and Biomedical Informatics, is quoted. Read more in the VUMC Reporter here.

Educational Updates

Virtual 2020-2021 MS/PhD Celebration: Save the Date — Saturday, May 15th, 6:00–8:00 pm

Please save Saturday, May 15 from 6:00–8:00 pm CT for a virtual celebration for the 2020-2021 graduates. More information will be provided soon. See the upcoming graduates (and their new titles) below
Mary Lauren Benton, PhD, MS; Sharon Davis, PhD, MS; Michael Greer, PhD, MS; Michael Kochen, PhD, MS; Jamie Robinson, MD, PhD, MS; Bryan Steitz, PhD, MS; Aileen Wright, MD, MS; Patrick Wu, PhD, MS, and Linda Zhang, PhD, MS. Congratulations to all!

Vanderbilt-IBM Watson Internship Presentations — April 29

Congratulations to our Vanderbilt-IBM Watson Health interns Anuska Sharma, Zhoujun “Holly” Sun, Romy Pein and Brian Yoon, who presented their internship projects on Thursday, April 29! Post your congratulatory comments in this Twitter thread.

DBMI Spotlight: Aileen Wright

Each month, we will feature one member of our DBMI faculty, staff, student or alumni. If you or someone you know is new to the department, has an interesting backstory, or is making an impact at work or in their personal lives, email Mia Garchitorena at mia.garchitorena@vumc.org!  
Aileen Wright, MD, has a lot to celebrate.
On May 1, she was appointed Instructor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics. On May 15, she will graduate with a master’s degree in biomedical informatics.
And in about a week, she and her husband (and Director of the Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC)) Adam Wright, PhD, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, are also expecting the arrival of their third child – a baby girl! Congratulations to the Wrights!
"Aileen is an amazing wife, mom and life partner, and also an incredibly talented researcher," Dr. Adam Wright says. "I’m really excited that she’s joining the DBMI faculty and I know she’ll do great work here!”
NOTE: Dr. Wright’s first name is pronounced “Uh-leen”. (Pictured below: Adam and Aileen Wright with their children, Isaac and Grace.)

Finding Her Path

Dr. Aileen Wright was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Growing up, she enjoyed reading and writing and sometimes imagined she would become an author.
In high school, Dr. Wright became interested in linguistics, and decided to follow this passion at McGill University, where the bilingual environment of Montreal made for an exciting linguistics scene. While there, she became drawn to neurolinguistics, and graduated with a major in neuroscience and minor in linguistics.

Despite getting these degrees, she didn’t quite know what the future had in store. She returned to Boston and applied for some research assistant positions. She received two offers on the same day – one for stem cell research and another in patient safety and quality improvement at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She chose the latter. “I had no idea what patient safety and quality improvement was, but I decided to try it out,” she says. “It turned out to be awesome!”

There's Always Room for Improvement

While working as a research assistant, Dr. Wright became exposed to informatics, which many of the physicians in the general medicine department focused on. “They spent their time with patients, but they were also always thinking about how to make things better through informatics,” she says.

She discovered some of the biggest challenges physicians and patients face in health care, including medical errors and the high cost of care. She also saw what areas could be improved, such as the electronic health record. She later decided to pursue medicine as a career to improve health care.

A Match Made in Heaven


Around 2009, Aileen met her future husband, Adam Wright, a Senior Scientist who was working in the same office in the Division of General Medicine at Brigham and Women’s. They often saw each other in the halls, but they didn’t officially meet until they realized they went to the same church.
“One day, after my service ended, I saw his lunch bag and noticed him coming into church for the second service,” she explains, adding that they chatted for a brief moment. They went to lunch a few days later and then dated long-distance for about two years.
During a trip to Hong Kong and Beijing to visit Aileen’s maternal grandparents, Adam proposed at the Great Wall of China. “He had asked my parents for permission before the trip, and my parents weren’t very subtle about it,” Aileen says with a laugh. “They were SO excited for my trip, so I kind of guessed it would happen.”
“Typically, it’s misty when you’re on the Great Wall, but there were clear skies that day,” she adds. A few weeks later, Aileen started medical school at Yale University. They married on New Year’s Eve in 2011.
After graduating medical school, Dr. Wright moved back to Boston and completed her internal medicine residency at Brigham and Women’s.
(Picture right: Dr. Aileen Wright at her medical school graduation from Yale University with Adam Wright and their son, Isaac.)

Joining VUMC DBMI


Soon after Dr. Wright completed her residency, an opportunity to join VUMC’s DBMI came about. “We both saw Vanderbilt as this amazing place for informatics,” she explains. “Adam just had this great opportunity to come here, and I was interested in the master’s program.” They moved to Nashville with their two children, Isaac (6) and Grace (2) (pictured below), in August 2019.

Dr. Wright is proud of the work she’s done while completing her master’s degree. She created a platform called “MOSS,” a system which facilitates the building of predictive models for medication safety. In her role as an Epic physician builder, she has enjoyed working on numerous projects, her favorite of which involve collaborating with medical residents who have creative ideas for how to improve health care quality using the EHR.
“I’m really excited to be here at Vanderbilt where it’s possible to improve the system and make things better,” she says. 

Instructor of Informatics


As Instructor in DBMI, Dr. Wright will be applying for grants and developing her own research program. She is also looking forward to working with Colin Walsh and seeing how she can use MOSS to improve prediction for suicide risk and other co-morbidities with patients with mental health disorders. She will also have a role as an informatics consultant with the Department of Medicine.

In the meantime, she is preparing for graduation and the arrival of their newborn daughter in a few days’ time. Congratulations to Drs. Aileen and Adam Wright on their new arrival!

Flexibility, Trust: Takeaways from Leadership Assembly

The flexibility and adaptability of VUMC has been center stage as the pressures of COVID-19 and ongoing strategic imperatives have transformed how and where care is delivered.

The pandemic accelerated VUMC’s digital initiatives while simultaneously building new lines of communication as teams collaborated to solve COVID-19 challenges, Medical Center leaders said during streaming of the May 2021 Leadership Assembly. The response required to meet care demands as COVID-19 impacted personal and work lives demonstrated the depths of trust and adaptability at VUMC, said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Read more in the VUMC Reporter here.

Got the Vaccine? Here's How VUMC Employees Can Self-Report COVID Vaccines From Non-Vanderbilt Clinics

Are you a VUMC employee who has received a COVID-19 vaccine from a site not operated by the Vanderbilt Occupational Health Clinic (OHC)?
You can self-report your vaccine documentation to OHC through the following secure REDCap link so it can be added to your Occupational Health record: https://redcap.vanderbilt.edu/surveys/?s=PJP7RYJ4ML. Read more here.

ExpeditionTech Launches New Tools & Technology in 2021

In an ongoing effort to create secure and modern technology environments, VUMC IT has launched a multi-year initiative called ExpeditionTech. Eventually, this initiative will touch every VUMC device, tool and application, along with all VUMC’s data. Throughout 2021, you can expect to receive VUMC IT support to guide you through these changes, along with regular updates tailored to your specific department or user group.

Funding Opportunities

Vanderbilt-wide Limited Submission Opportunity: 2021 Mallinckrodt Grant Program — APPLY BY MAY 19. Vanderbilt (VU and VUMC, collaboratively) may submit one proposal for the Edward Mallinckrodt Foundation Grant Program. The Foundation supports early stage investigators engaged in basic biomedical research that has the potential to significantly advance the understanding, diagnosis, or treatment of disease. The grant provides $60,000/year for up to a total of $180,000 over three years to move a project forward to the point where R01 or other independent funding can be obtained. Indirect costs are not allowable, but salary support is acceptable. Read more here.
Center for Health Services Research (CHSR) Grant Program — APPLY BY MAY 17. The Center for Health Services Research (CHSR) announced a new CHSR Research Grant Program to support research projects that advance equity in health care. This proposal cycle solicits applications that address the use of race in diagnostic tests and clinical algorithms for risk assessment, diagnosis, or treatment. CHSR Research Grants are intended to support discrete research projects that can be completed in a 12-month timeframe of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. This program will support up to 2 research projects with up to $10,000 per award. These grants are not intended to supplement already funded research projects, unless it is to add a new element related to the use of race in clinical algorithms or diagnostic tests. Read more here
Vanderbilt Health Equity Innovation Awards SUBMIT INTENT TO APPLY BY MAY 3; OFFICIAL APPLICATION BY MAY 17. The Office of Health Equity is calling for submissions for its Health Equity Innovation Awards, which support innovative ideas and solutions to advance health equity. The awards are built upon the principle that there are assets, opportunities and innovative ideas within VUMC and in our communities that can advance health equity. Advancing health equity ensures that all people have the opportunity to achieve their optimal level of health. The Office of Health Equity will provide up to $10,000 in support of winning ideas and solutions. To learn more about application requirements and how to apply, visit here
NIH Funding Opportunities & Notices. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers funding for many types of grants, contracts, and even programs that help repay loans for researchers. To view current funding opportunities, visit here

HR Updates

Compliance & Conflict of Interest Modules — Due June 15

REMINDER: All staff must complete their compliance modules and Conflict of Interest (COI) by June 15, 2021 or merit increases could be affected.
Visit the Compliance Portal to see which items are still incomplete here: https://complianceportal.app.vumc.org/ or access the Learning Exchange at https://learningexchange.vumc.org/#/dashboard and look under “My Courses” to view incomplete courses.

New Rule Allows Changes to 2021 FSA Contribution During Two-Week Enrollment Period

As permitted under the second pandemic relief law, employees eligible for a flexible spending account (FSA) are allowed to either enroll in an FSA or modify their 2021 contributions for a limited time. Starting May 4 through May 17, you can make changes to your health and/or dependent day care FSA contributions only. If you have not enrolled in a flexible spending account for 2021, and would like to, the law allows you to enroll in an FSA at this time as well. Read more here

Open Positions

Visit here to view current open positions throughout DBMI and its Centers. If your team has an job opening, please email Mia Garchitorena at mia.garchitorena@vumc.org.

Upcoming Events

Visit here for more details on the upcoming DBMI webinars and research colloquiums in June 2021.
Suggestions? Email dbmicomms@vumc.org.