Read the April issue of the DBMI Digest.
Read the April issue of the DBMI Digest.

The 2021-2022 Academic Year Draws to a Close

Final exams, presentations, and papers. The last DBMI Seminar of the year, and the last Research Colloquium. It must be the end of the academic year!
As the year closes, we’d like to offer our congratulations to all our students, and our thanks to all faculty who have been teaching, advising, and mentoring. Despite the Delta and Omicron waves, we are thankful that we were able to continue holding classes in person. We hope that this in-person experience helped students and faculty form the personal and team relationships that are integral to the graduate school experience.
Some educational activities continued to be on Zoom this past year. The remote option is convenient for many of us and gave us access to national and international speakers whom we might not otherwise have been able to invite.
But remote talks also make it much harder to meet, socialize, and exchange ideas informally. To retain some of the best aspects of both remote and in-person options, we are making plans for the seminars and colloquiums to be held in a hybrid format in the fall
Research will of course continue uninterrupted over the summer, but we hope everyone takes time for recreation and vacation, too. Enjoy!
— Jessica Ancker, PhD, MPH, FACMI, Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs of DBMI
Pictured below: Jessica shares some photos from her walk in Percy Warner Park!

Table of Contents

  1. COVID-19 Updates
  2. Department Announcements, HR Reminders
  3. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  4. Faculty News
  5. Education
  6. DBMI Spotlight: Kim Unertl
  7. MyVUMC
  8. Funding Opportunities
  9. Open Positions + Upcoming Events

COVID-19 Updates

As of Friday, April 29, 2022, the numbers of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 at VUMC remain very low. Hospital leadership reports that numbers are fairly stable with regard to inpatients and employees out, but there seems to be an increase in case rates across the region. For those eligible, please do remember to schedule your second boosters when appropriate.

DBMI Announcements, HR Reminders

Upcoming Parking Changes to 2525 West End Garage — May 1

Starting on May 1st, the 2525 West End Garage will be utilizing a new parking system called Metropolis.
Metropolis is a fully automated system that uses License Plate Recognition to monitor vehicles that come and go from the facility, and charges or validates accordingly. All validations will use a QR code that the customer will scan during their visit.
Email Barbara Payne at for more information.   

VU Commencement 2022 Parking Changes

The Vanderbilt University 2022 commencement ceremony will take place on Friday, May 13. On graduation day, parking around our office at 2525 West End Avenue will be very hectic. Plan ahead by reviewing VUMC’s announcement about upcoming parking changes

DBMI Seminars Come to a Close — Will Resume Fall 2022

Thanks everyone for your participation and support of the Biomedical Informatics Seminars this semester. The seminars ended on Wednesday, April 27, and will resume in the fall. If you are interested in presenting or would like to refer someone, please promptly contact me at
Lina Sulieman, PhD, Research Assistant Professor
View recordings of our DBMI seminars here

Love & Marriage

Kimberley Kondratieff Got Married!

Kim Kondratieff, PhD student in DBMI, and her husband, Charles, got married in Brentwood on April 23, 2022!
Kim and Charles met through a dating app for members of their church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). Congratulations to Kim and Charles!!

Mia Garchitorena Set Wedding Date! 

Mia Garchitorena and her fiancé, Derek, set the date for their wedding! They will be married in May 2023. Mia and Derek met in journalism school in NYC and got engaged in NYC, in front of their old apartment on Roosevelt Island, in November 2021.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

"Amplifying AAPI Voices: A VUMC Virtual Storytelling Event" — May 6

May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month.
To celebrate, the VUMC Healthcare Alliance of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (HAAPI) Employee Resource Group (ERG) is hosting a virtual storytelling event, “Amplifying AAPI Voices” on Friday, May 6 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm CST.
Three dynamic leaders in the API community will tell their stories and to discuss important API topics. Register here for the virtual event. Contact Mia Garchitorena at if you have any questions. 

Faculty News

Applied Clinical Informatics (ACI) Special Issue: CALL FOR PAPERS — DEADLINE: OCT. 16

Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, Interim Chair, Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs and Professor in DBMI and Director of My Health at Vanderbilt; Bryan Steitz, PhD, Intructor in DBMI; and Marianne Sharko of Weill Cornell Medicine are guest editors of a Special Issue of Applied Clinical Informatics. 
The title of the Special Issue is “Adolescent Privacy and the Electronic Health Record”Submissions are due October 16, 2022. Click here for more information

Minoo Bagheri Published Study "An Amish founder Population Reveals Rare-Population Genetic Determinants of the Human Lipidome"

Identifying the genetic determinants of inter-individual variation in lipid species (lipidome) may provide deeper understanding and additional insight into the mechanistic effect of complex lipidomic pathways in CVD risk and progression beyond simple traditional lipids. Minoo Bagheri, MSPH, PhD, posdoctoral research fellow in the Vanderbilt Genomic Medicine Training Program, and team performed a genome-wide association scan of 355 lipid species in 650 individuals from the Amish founder population including 127 lipid species not previously tested. They reported for the first time the lipid species associated with two rare-population but Amish-enriched lipid variants: APOB_rs5742904 and APOC3_rs76353203. Click to read more.

Siru Liu, Thomas Reese Study to be Presented at Clinical Decision Support Working Group Meeting

Siru Liu, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, will be presenting the study "Leveraging Machine Learning to Filter Medication Alerts" at the upcoming CDS Working Group meeting on May 4. 
Thomas Reese, PharmD, PhD, Assistant Professor in DBMI, is co-author. 

Yaa Kumah-Crystal Published Literature Review on Voice Application in EHR Use

Yaa Kumah-Crystal, MD, MPH, MS, Assistant Professor in DBMI and Pediatric Endocrinology, published a paper in Applied Clinical Informatics titled "Electronic Health Record Interactions through Voice: A Review". This article reviewed the literature and evidence on voice input technology used to facilitate work in the EHR. It also reviewed the benefits and challenges of implementation and use of voice technologies, and discusses emerging opportunities with voice assistant technology. Click to read more.

Jessica Ancker Published Survey on Clinician Acceptance of Order Sets for Pain Management

Jessica Ancker, PhD, MPH, FACMI, Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs in DBMI, was a co-author on a paper in Applied Clinical Informatics titled "Clinician Acceptance of Order Sets for Pain Management: A Survey in Two Urban Hospitals". The objective was to identify the barriers to order sets adoption and survey clinicians on their training, knowledge, and perceptions related to order sets for pain management. Click to read more.


End of Semester Kudos & Thank-You's!

Biomedical Informatics courses are wrapping up for the semester. Congratulations to the students on their hard work and a big thank you to our instructors! See below:
Congratulations to Leigh Anne Tang, who defended her Master’s degree on Thursday, April 28. In addition, congratulations to the MSACI students, who completed their capstone presentations! Here are the links to their recorded presentations.
We started up two new courses this semester, so thank you to:
  • BMIF 7340 Clinical Informatics - Adam Wright, Allison McCoy
  • BMIF 7391 Clinical Observation - Sharidan Parr, Kim Unertl
And thank you to all of the instructors for our other courses:
  • BMIF 6315 Methods - Sharon Davis, Dario Giuse (course directors); Kim Unertl, Laurie Novak, Robert Carroll, Adi Bejan, Adam Wright, Brad Malin (module instructors)
  • BMIF 7390 Error & Safety Critical Systems - Shilo Anders
  • BMIF 6322 Scientific Communication - Trent Rosenbloom, Sharon Davis
  • BMIF 7380 Data Privacy in Biomedicine - Brad Malin
  • BMIF 6390 NLP/ML in Healthcare - Zhijun Yin
  • BMIF 6332 Journal Club - Robert Carroll
A special thank you to Robert Carroll, who has been leading Journal Club for the past several years, and is stepping away after this year. He’s done a tremendous job with the task, and we appreciate everything he has contributed to the course. 
Finally, thank you to faculty who worked with our first-year students in research rotations this semester: Adam WrightAllison McCoyJessica Ancker, and Brad Malin

DBMI Spotlight: Kim Unertl

Each month, we will feature one of our DBMI faculty, staff, students, trainees 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!  
Kim Unertl, PhD, MS, FACMI, is Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at VUMC. Read more about her in this Q&A below!
Where did you grow up? 
Southeastern part of Wisconsin.
What was childhood like for you? What’s your family like? What did you parents do for work? Any siblings?
My dad was a carpenter and my mom was a homemaker. I’m the youngest of nine - my oldest sister graduated from high school the year I was born. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but there were farms all around us, a really rural part of Wisconsin. When I was in kindergarten, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and she died when I was nine, so that really defined a lot of my childhood. 
When did you begin to show an interest in science and/or medicine?
Pretty early, in elementary school. I especially loved math classes. When I was in high school, I had a programming class (which was unusual for the time and location) and the teacher, Mr. Spaeth, nominated me for a summer camp about engineering. Studying engineering felt like a perfect way to take all the things I liked about science and math and apply them to the world. 
Pictured right: Kim with her family. Standing L-R: Karla (Unertl) Thurow, Gus Unertl, Karen (Unertl) Gleason, Kathy Unertl, Greg Unertl, Guy Unertl, and Gary Unertl.  Seated L-R: Grant Unertl, Kim Unertl, Dorothy Unertl, Ken Unertl. "Yes, all my sisters start with K and all my brothers start with G!" Kim said. 
What did you like studying in school? 
I loved pretty much all of my classes in school. I was lucky to have some really great math and physics teachers in high school, who encouraged me to pursue STEM careers. At the same time, I also really enjoyed humanities classes and was on the debate team. 
What was your education and career path like?
I went to Marquette University in Milwaukee for undergrad and majored in Biomedical Engineering (minors in Electrical Engineering and German). After graduation, I went to work for Abbott Laboratories, working in various engineering roles on diagnostic equipment, from handheld glucose meters to large laboratory equipment. While at Abbott, I was able to go to a course on diabetes care, where I saw firsthand the difference that a provider having the right information at the right time delivered at the right point in their workflow made in their ability to help a patient manage their chronic disease. I thought there must be a graduate program that merged computer science with healthcare, and that’s how I discovered biomedical informatics. I got both my MS and PhD in biomedical informatics here at Vanderbilt. 
How and when did you come to DBMI? When did you become Director of Graduate Studies?
I started in DBMI as a graduate student in 2004 and joined the faculty after I finished my PhD (and had my son, Emerson) in 2010. Over my time on the faculty, I gradually got more involved with the department’s educational programs and eventually started directing the summer program in 2017. I became Director of Graduate Studies in July 2020. 
Pictured above: Kim with Nancy Lorenzi at her Vanderbilt PhD Graduation in 2010. 
What are you currently researching? What is its impact?
My research is split between educational research topics and informatics research. For educational research, I’m very interested in understanding effective strategies for engaging students new to informatics in the field and in approaches to curriculum design. In informatics research, my main interest is in how technology and workflow interact, applied to many different areas from chronic disease care to integration of patient-generated health data into clinical work. 
Any significant moments since joining DBMI or becoming Director of Graduate Studies that you’d like to share?
Many of the moments that have been most significant to me personally are about the summer program - doing the work to keep the program funded and operational, plus finding new ways to expand components like our professional development course. Summer 2020 was especially challenging due to the pandemic - it looked for a while like we may have to cancel, but we were able to successfully switch to a virtual format and still provide a really good experience to the students. As DGS, my favorite moments are when students defend their theses/dissertations, to see how much they have learned and accomplished over their time in DBMI.
What is the importance of having women in STEM? 

There’s a great book published a few years ago called Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez that talks about the costs of systematically ignoring/excluding data about women in design, in decision making, and in setting policies. Increasing representation and inclusion of women in STEM fields upends that narrative, and brings important voices and perspectives to the table, where we belong. 
Pictured right: Kim with Tim Coffman and son, Emerson Unertl-Coffman, at the Hike Inn in Georgia.

When you think of women in STEM who have impacted you, who and what comes to mind?
I think of all of the phenomenal women who did the work to open doors into STEM fields to other women. On a personal level, I think of the support that I have received over the years from my mentors Nancy Lorenzi and Cindy Gadd. I also think of the work that remains to make STEM fields more welcoming and inclusive for women and for everyone from groups under-represented in STEM. 
Any advice you’d like to share for fellow women in biomedical informatics/STEM?
To borrow from Jessica Callarco (@JessicaCalarco on Twitter): Build your team. Especially for women in STEM fields, it’s really important to have a network - mentors, sponsors, people you can bounce ideas off of, people you can count on for support, people who will be there for you. 
Pictured left: Fizzy, Tim, Emerson, Quinn, and Kim on a cabin trip in 2020.

VUMC Offers Second Booster to Eligible Individuals

Based on updated CDC COVID-19 booster guidelines and VUMC’s review of the evidence, VUMC will offer a second booster of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals, ages 50 and over, who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Others who are eligible for a second booster include those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a first shot and first booster dose and individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter.

VUMC Culture Survey Can Help Make the Medical Center a More Welcoming Place to Work

In order for an organization to adequately reflect a culture that is welcoming and inclusive, it's important to hear from the people who work here to learn what they think it means to be a welcoming and inclusive place to work. The VUMC Culture Survey will begin May 3 and continue through May 17. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter

Funding Opportunities

REMINDER: Contact Terri DeMumbrum When Considering a Grant Submission

All grant proposals require approval of the Office of Sponsored Programs prior to submission. Terri will review the opportunity announcement and prepare a submission timeline/checklist as well as help with the submission. Email her at
National Science Foundation (NSF) Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) — PROPOSALS ACCEPTED ANYTIME UNTIL APRIL 1, 2024. The S&CC program supports integrative research that addresses fundamental technological and social science dimensions of smart and connected communities and pilots solutions together with communities.This S&CC solicitation will support research projects in the following categories:
  • S&CC Integrative Research Grants (SCC-IRG) Tracks 1 and 2. Awards in this category will support fundamental integrative research that addresses technological and social science dimensions of smart and connected communities and pilots solutions together with communities. Track 1 proposals may request budgets ranging between $1,500,001 and $2,500,000, with durations of up to four years. Track 2 proposals may request budgets up to $1,500,000, with durations of up to three years.
  • S&CC Planning Grants (SCC-PG). Awards in this category are for capacity building to prepare project teams to propose future well-developed SCC-IRG proposals. Each of these awards will provide support for a period of one year and may be requested at a level not to exceed $150,000 for the total budget.
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

Open Positions

Visit here to view current open positions throughout DBMI and its Centers. If your team has a job opening, please email Mia Garchitorena at

Upcoming Events

Visit here for more details on the previous/recorded DBMI webinars from January to April 2022.
Suggestions? Email