A Letter from the Interim Chair

Early in the week after returning from the 2021 American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Annual Symposium in San Diego, I took some time off to go hiking.
AMIA was my first in-person professional meeting in the twenty months since the COVID pandemic began. Twenty months mostly at home, quiet with a small circle of family and friends. My wife calls me a secret introvert because - while most people think of me as being exuberantly outgoing - I really generally prefer more introvert activities, including running and hiking quietly in the woods. The meeting was great, and I got to catch up with a lot of colleagues and meet new ones. But after the meeting, I was ready for some quiet time.
So this past week, I took a bit of time to watch the sunrise at the Great Stone Door, a beautiful rocky cliff top in the South Cumberland State Natural Area, over near Altamont, Tennessee. This is one of my favorite Fall activities, and I block time to do it every year. Watching the sunrise over the brilliant leaves in all their autumnal colors is something I always find breathtaking.
I really love the autumn. There’s a lot of beauty and I find it an important time of reflection as we transition from one season into the next in a very obvious way. Likewise - and you knew I had was building a metaphor - here I am serving as the harbinger during a major transition in our department and our professional lives.
Kevin has been with our Vanderbilt Community since some of the earliest days, and saw our growth from a small department into one of the biggest academic informatics shops in the world. Kevin has been a mentor to all of us, both in his wisdom and through his example. All of us are better for his leadership, and it is a daunting task to follow, even if for just an interim period. And yet it is exciting to see what he is going to accomplish as he chases his passions in scientific communication and innovation. 
Pictured right (from left to right): Kevin Johnson, Randy Miller, and soon-to-be Chair of DBMI, Peter Embí, at AMIA. 
But this is a period of transition, and soon we will have a new colleague. I have known Peter Embí MD, MS, FACP, FACMI, FAMIA, for nearly all of my academic career. He has also mentored me through his example - Peter and his work have always been inspiration and a guide for me. Some of my earliest science referenced papers Peter had published, and I still remember clearly bumping into him in the real world for the first time on an elevator at an AMIA conference in Washington, DC. Peter is a well-respected leader who has been a chair at AMIA and a department and institutional lead at a number of great shops. He is also a thoughtful colleague and a gifted mentor. It is really great to consider that Peter specifically chose to leave his elevated position at Regenstrief to join our community and work with us in our unique Vanderbilt environment. As you can imagine, I’ve already had a number of conversations with Peter as part of the transition and I’m filled with optimism.
I’m writing this as I walk at dusk among the falling leaves in Percy Warner Park here on a Friday evening following a busy week. I’ve been marveling at this Fall‘s exceptional show of beauty in the trees, even as it has been such a challenging year for all of us. If this is a time of transition and I’m looking forward to the coming season.
As a reminder, Dr. Peter Embí will assume the position of Chair of Biomedical Informatics on January 1, 2022. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at trent.rosenbloom@vumc.org.
 Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA

Table of Contents

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

Department News & Announcements

AMIA 2021 Wrap-Up

The 2021 American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Annual Symposium was held in San Diego this year from October 30 to November 3. Many of our faculty, staff, students and trainees attended the conference in-person. Not surprisingly, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's (VUMC) Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI)'s presence was at the forefront at various AMIA awards ceremonies and poster presentations. Congratulations to all! 
Below are a few highlights from AMIA 2021. To see more highlights from AMIA, search the hashtags #AMIA2021 #vumcDBMI on Twitter!

Randy Miller Received the Morris F. Collen Award of Excellence

The American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) presented the 2021 Morris F. Collen Award of Excellence to Randolph A. Miller, MD, FACMI, Emeritus Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University, during the opening session of the AMIA 2021 Annual Symposium.
In honor of Morris F. Collen, a thought leader in the field of medical informatics, this prestigious award is presented to an individual whose personal commitment and dedication to medical informatics has made a lasting impression on the field.

Adam Wright Received Donald A.B. Lindberg Award for Innovation in Informatics

Congratulations to Adam Wright, PhD, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, who received the Donald A.B. Lindberg Award for Innovation in Informatics, given annually to an individual for contributions that advance biomedical informatics on the national or international level.
Previously, William Stead, MD, FACMI, FIAHSI; Paul Harris, PhD, FACMI, FIAHSI; and Dr. Randy Miller received the Lindberg Award.

Martin Were & Patricia Sengstack Elected to ACMI

Congratulations to Martin Were, MD, MS, FAMIA, FIAHSI, and Patricia Sengstack, DNP, RN-BC, FAAN, who were two of 11 fellows who were elected to the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI). Read more in the VUMC Reporter here!

Bill Stead Named Distinguished Fellow of ACMI

Congratulations to William Stead, MD, FACMI, FIAHSI, who was one of four senior fellows who were named Distinguished Fellows of ACMI.
He was named a Distinguished Fellow of ACMI for his significant and sustained contributions to the organization in areas such as policy formulation, the practice of informatics, and applied research.
Many thanks to Cynthia Williams, Program Manager in the Center for Precision Medicine (left), and Rischelle Jenkins, Program Manager of the DBMI MS/PhD Program (right), for  managing the DBMI Booth!

Allison McCoy & Women in AMIA Met to Discuss "First Look Program"

Allison McCoy, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI and Director of the Clinical Informatics Core, and the Women in AMIA group met up at the 2021 AMIA conference to share their experiences in the AMIA First Look Program and to discuss different careers in industry, clinical informatics, academia, and health policy.
The AMIA First Look Program was established in 2017 to address workforce disparities among women, including those from marginalized communities. The program exposes women to informatics, furnishes mentors, and provides career resources. In four years, the program has introduced 87 undergraduate women, 41% members of marginalized communities, to informatics.  
One success story from the AMIA First Look Program is of Marily Barron, who was a DBMI summer intern before she became a First Look participant in 2018 and then a PhD student. She has joined the First Look program for the past two years to participate on a Student Panel to share her experiences as an informatics student with the participants.
Dr. McCoy has a paper in press with Women in AMIA colleagues, titled "Making the Case for Workforce Diversity in Biomedical Informatics to Help Achieve Equity-Centered Care," which describes the AMIA First Look program, which Dr. McCoy co-led for the last two years as co-chair of the Women in AMIA Pathways Subcommittee. Be on the lookout for the paper in JAMIA
If you'd like to learn more about the AMIA First Look Program, email Dr. McCoy at allison.b.mccoy@vumc.org

Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC) Seminar: Simple Steps for Safer EHRs. Presented by Dean Sittig — November 17

For VCLIC's November seminar, Dean Sittig, PhD, Professor in the School of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, will present on "Simple Steps for Safer EHRs". This talk will present a 5-step approach to help health care organizations realize a safer EHR. 
Please join us on November 17 from 12:00-1:00 pm CT via Zoom

VCLIC Mental Health Innovation Challenge and Hackathon — February 25-26, 2022

The VCLIC, in partnership with VUMC HealthIT, will host an innovation challenge and hackathon to support development of novel apps for patients and healthcare providers to support our Innovative Care Delivery Models for Mental Health theme. The goal of the innovation challenge and hackathon is for teams to come together and develop a novel apps to support mental health, defined broadly. 
The innovation challenge and hackathon will take place from a Friday to Saturday, February 25th-26th, 2022, and will be held at The Wond'ry on Vanderbilt University's campus. The event is open to all VUMC and VU affiliates, including students, faculty and staff in all disciplines and departments. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

November is Native American History Month and National Veterans & Military Family Month. See this VUMC November 2021 DEI Slide to learn more about DEI events this month. 

Nashville Transgender Day of Remembrance — TODAY, November 16 from 6:00-7:00 pm

Since 1999, International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) has occurred annually on Nov. 20 as a day to memorialize those who have been killed as a result of anti-transgender violence and transphobia. TDOR brings attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community and its resilience through difficult and demeaning times.
This special day also allows for the transgender leaders of Nashville to come together and share space with their community and loved ones. The event is hosted by Vanderbilt’s Office of LGBTQI Life in collaboration with local trans activists and community members. The event is open to all. Read more hereThis year’s service for the Nashville community will take place at Scarritt Bennett Chapel, as well as streaming here.

Faculty News

Chao Yan, Brad Malin Study Named a Best Paper in 2021 International Medical Informatics Association Yearbook

Chao Yan, a PhD candidate in Computer Science; and Brad Malin, PhD, FACMI, FAIMBE, FIAHSI, Accenture Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Biostatistics, and Computer Science; and Vice Chair for Research Affairs in DBMI, published a study in JAMIA, titled "Ensuring Electronic Medical Record Simulation Through Better Training, Modeling, and Evaluation". It was selected as one of the best in the 2021 International Medical Informatics Association Yearbook. Congratulations! Click to read more.

Ashley Spann Discussed Racial Disparities in Liver Disease in American Liver Foundation Article

In an article published by the American Liver Foundation, Ashley Spann, MD, a Clinical Informatics Fellow in DBMI and internal medicine physician, and Jeremy Louissaint, MD, a transplant hepatology fellow at Columbia University, discussed racial disparities in liver disease and how we can start promoting health equity. Click to read more.

Michael Ripperger, Colin Walsh & Team Published Study: "AI Predicts Opioid Overdose in Tennessee"

In a study published in JAMIA and led by Michael Ripperger, Application Developer, and senior author Colin Walsh, MD, MA, FAMIA, Associate Professor in DBMI, Medicine & Psychiatry, a team from VUMC and the Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH) developed 30-day predictive models for fatal and non-fatal opioid-related overdose among patients receiving opioid prescriptions in the state.
Joining Michael and Dr. Walsh in leading the project was Matthew Lenert, Katelyn Robinson, Qingxia Chen, PhD, and others from VUMC and the TDOH. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter

Alex Cheng, Travis Osterman Published Study: "Follow-Up Interactive Long-Term Expert Ranking (FILTER): A Crowdsourcing Platform to Adjudicate Risk for Survivorship Care"

Alex Cheng, PhD, Research Assistant Professor in DBMI, and Travis Osterman, DO, MS, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI, Hematology and Oncology and Director of Cancer Clinical Informatics at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), and colleagues published a study describing a crowdsourcing method to determine in which oncologists and other survivorship experts can adjudicate risk for complications in follow-up. Click to read more.

Educational Updates

AMIA Student & Trainee Awards

DBMI trainees had a fantastic year at AMIA in San Diego. We had two Student Paper Award finalists, a poster award winner, and a LEAD fund awardee. In addition, 10 of our trainees presented posters, and five presented talks. Please congratulate our trainees and their mentors! 
  • Bryan Steitz – Best Poster Award (pictured below, left)
  • Mirza Khan and KJ Krause – AMIA Student Paper Finalists (pictured below, middle and right)
  • Poster presentations – Brian Douthit, Marily Barron, Eugene Jeong, Mirza Khan, Protiva Rahman (DBMI trainees); Ziqi Zhang, Yongtai Liu, Cheng Gao, Xinmeng Zhang (computer science students working with DBMI faculty).
  • Additional Talks and Panels – Chao Yan, Barrett Jones, Bryan Steitz.

Siru Liu Honored at AMIA 2021

Postdoctoral research fellow Siru Liu, PhD, received several honors at the 2021 AMIA Annual Symposium.
She was a named recipient of the 2021 AMIA Leadership and Education Award (LEAD) Fund and selected into the 2021 Women in AMIA (WIA) Leadership Program, a seven-month leadership development program for women researchers from across the health informatics ecosystem. 
Dr. Liu was also selected to participate in the AMIA DEI Committee this year. She has been assigned in the communications committee, working on “promoting diverse informatics voices, research, and activities through AMIA communications channels and advocate for more inclusive research in informatics journals.” Congratulations! 

Liz Jasper Received Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Award

Elizabeth Jasper, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow in the Vanderbilt Genomic Medicine Training Program, was named a recipient of the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Award. Learn more about the award here in VUMC's Women's Health Research
She was also recently appointed Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Congratulations! 

DBMI Spotlight: Stuart Weinberg

Each month, we will feature one or more members of our DBMI faculty, staff, student, trainee 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!  
Stuart Weinberg, MD, FAAP, FAMIA, believes that his introduction to informatics was serendipitous. 
While completing his residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) from 1985-1988, Dr. Weinberg was using a DEC Rainbow 100 computer in his apartment to create and print out his own patient and lab work lists so he could better track his clinical tasks. Using computers to assist with clinical workflows and patient care was somewhat novel at the time since modern electronic health records were still in their infancy.
One day in clinic, a Children’s Hospital Adolescent Medicine Fellow noticed Dr. Weinberg reviewing one of his lists and asked where he got it. “I do this myself,” he told her. She mentioned that her husband was involved with a group located next door which worked on computers in medicine and suggested he check it out. It happened to be the National Library of Medicine Training Program in Medical Informatics, led by the Chief of the University of Pittsburgh’s Section of Medical Informatics, Dr. Randy Miller.
“Talk about fate, right?” he says with a laugh. Dr. Weinberg joined Dr. Miller’s informatics fellowship in 1990 and would go on to develop clinical workflow tools and applications that demonstrated functionalities, including easy access to patient demographics, visit histories, vitals, problem lists, insurance information, provider assignments, and immunization histories with clinical decision support.
Joining informatics “was like being a kid in a candy store,” he says, adding that the field allowed him to merge his interests and skills in computer science and medicine. “Back then, the sky was the limit, and you could sit at a computer and program it to do what you want.”
Now, Dr. Weinberg, who has served as Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatrics at VUMC, is excited to get back to his computer programming roots as he prepares for retirement in December 2021.
Regarding DBMI, he says: “I was so glad to be a part of an environment in which I could explore innovation and collaboration and learn about best practices in large production programming. If you need expertise in any topic in informatics, you can find it among our faculty. And I’ve greatly enjoyed teaching students over the years.”
Dr. Weinberg grew up in Dayton, Ohio. His father, an artist, illustrated newspaper ads for local department stores. He later became Public Information Officer for the county and city and a professor of public relations at the University of Dayton. His mother, a freelance copywriter, often collaborated with her husband on writing the ads he illustrated.
Pictured right: Dr. Weinberg's father featured in the Dayton Daily News. Caption: "Weinberg Glances at City's Financial Plan: He Designed Cover." 
As a child, young Dr. Weinberg discovered his lifelong passions in medicine and computer science. He became interested in math, science and biology while attending a private school in Dayton. (Fun fact: He was classmates with award-winning actress Allison Janney!). There, he encountered his first computer while on a fieldtrip to Wright State University, a research institution in Dayton. 
During the summers, he attended camp, which is where his interest in working with kids came about, he says.
Pictured left: Young Dr. Weinberg as the Archbishop of "Kernbury" at Camp Kern, 1981. "Since we weren't allowed to get up early to watch the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, we re-enacted our own version of the ceremony," Dr. Weinberg explains. "The 'prince' is wearing his Burger King cardboard crown. It was a great event." 
He later attended Dartmouth College, majoring in math and switching to computer science once the institution introduced a computer science major to its curriculum for the first time in its history. 
“I remember calling my parents to tell them, and my mom was so concerned that her dreams of saying, ‘My son, the doctor,’ were dashed because I was going to sit and do programming for the rest of my life,” he says with a laugh. “I reassured her that I can do both.”
Even then, he understood that medicine and computer science could naturally mesh. He attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and then completed his pediatrics residency at the CHP. On the side, he used computers to program various solutions to become more efficient and improve patient care. 
“There’s an artistry in programming, which I may have got from my dad,” he adds. “You can sit and tweak a program to look a certain way.”
While attending Dr. Miller’s informatics fellowship in 1990, Dr. Weinberg developed a Pediatric Continuity Clinic database at the CHP, which was used until 2006 before the hospital implemented a commercial EHR.
Pictured below: Dr. Weinberg with two nurses from the back hallway of the CHP Continuity Clinic. "This was the epicenter of my application development work for the clinic, and those two nurses were very patient early adopters/users of my work!" he says. 
Soon after the end of his informatics fellowship in 1993, Dr. Miller was recruiting a team to go to Vanderbilt. That team included Dario Giuse, Dr. Ing, MS, FACMI, and Nunzia Giuse, MD, FACMI, and others. Dr. Weinberg stayed in Pittsburgh and later moved back to Ohio to continue working as a pediatric hospitalist and medical informatician. He created websites and encouraged organizations to learn more about best-practice EHR functionalities and informatics activities.
Dr. Weinberg’s first introduction to Vanderbilt’s informatics activities was when Kevin Johnson, MD, MS, FAAP, FAMIA, FACMI, FIAHSI, former Chair of DBMI whom he met through the pediatrics community, recruited him to work on the DBMI website. Then in 2004, Dr. Weinberg interviewed for two positions at Vanderbilt (one was for Chief Medical Information Officer for the children’s hospital, the other was a faculty member for DBMI). When the former fell through, Dr. Weinberg joined DBMI in August 2004.
At Vanderbilt, Dr. Weinberg accomplished many things, including developing modules for WizOrder/HEO, programming interfaces to the Tennessee State Immunization Registry, integrating a third-party immunization clinical decision support web service into the EHR, and leading the development efforts of the Outpatient Whiteboard application, a clinical workflow tool that ran within StarPanel, from 2005 through 2017.
One of his favorite memories from his time at Vanderbilt was when the WizOrder team held clinical informatics conferences – better known as "pizza sessions" –  twice a week with residents, faculty, and programmers to troubleshoot existing issues and discuss proposals for new system features. “It was like a great meeting of the minds to make sure that users and programmers were on the same page,” he says.
Pictured above: A picture of Dr. Weinberg's nine-month-old son, Nathan, taken in 1997. Nathan is now a 25-year-old programmer who majored in computer science. "The laptop - a 'ZEOS Notebook 386' that I purchased during my informatics fellowship in the early 1990s, garnered a bit of attention back then since laptops were not a common sight. It may have been the first laptop in our informatics group!" he says. 
Dr. Weinberg has a robust list of accomplishments and awards, including serving as Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Clinical Informatics Technology, receiving Tennessee’s first CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award in 2012, being inducted into the 2019 Inaugural Class of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Fellows, co-chairing the Executive Committee for a new HIMSS’ Immunization Integration Program Collaborative, and much more.
These achievements reflect his true commitment to informatics. “The enthusiasm I have is from my ability to put on my medical and computer science hats to develop good tools to help doctors and nurses and improve care,” he says.
Following retirement, Dr. Weinberg will continue his involvement with immunization registries in collaboration with the CDC, HIMSS, the American Immunization Registry Association and more. He also will continue to support various activities associated with summer resident camps – a passion of his since his early summer camper days – including fundraising for an endowment fund (The Carl B. Kern Fund) he established in 1987 which has since distributed more than $200,000.
On a personal note, he caught the genealogy bug several years ago and is looking forward to organizing a substantial amount of information he has collected through resources like Ancestry.com – a service he highly recommends!
If you’d like to wish Dr. Weinberg a happy retirement, or if you’re also interested in looking into genealogy, you can email him at stuart.weinberg@vumc.org until December 31, 2021. 

REMINDER: VUMC Deadline for Flu Vaccines is DECEMBER 1

As a reminder, the VUMC deadline for flu compliance is December 1, 2021. The vaccine is offered:
Visit the Occupational Health Clinic Influenza Vaccine site for more information and specific locations. Email Elizabeth Brown, Chief Business Officer, at elizabeth.a.brown@vumc.org if you have questions or concerns. 

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 terri.demumbrum@vumc.org.
2022 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Gilliam Fellowships for Advanced Study — APPLY BY DEC. 9. These fellowships provide $53,000 per year for up to three years and will be awarded to adviser-student pairs, with each pair comprising an eligible graduate student engaged in their PhD dissertation research along with their thesis adviser.  HHMI anticipates making 50 awards in 2022. The program announcement that provides full details about the program, including eligibility criteria, can be found 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

REMINDER: Book All Flights & Hotels in Concur

Doug McCoy, Senior Financial Analyst in DBMI, shares this reminder regarding VUMC business travel: Policy dictates that you are to use the Concur tool to book flights/hotels. The only exception is to take advantage of a conference rate at a hotel.
Please also remember that you need to request pre-authorization for travel (via the web-form on the intranet site – accessible via the DBMI homepage) PRIOR to making any arrangements. You should not be making travel arrangements until you have approval from Elizabeth Brown, who typically responds within 24 hours. Please view this 2021 Travel Procedures document for more info. 
If you have any questions, please contact Doug McCoy at douglas.mccoy@vumc.org.

DBMI Welcomes New Employees

Please welcome the following new employees, who recently joined or will soon join DBMI!
  • Rut Thakkar — Research Analyst under Wei-Qi Wei. Joined November 1. 
  • Carolyn Diehl — Research Analyst under Brad Malin. Joined November 1.
  • Michael McLemore — Nurse informatics Data Analyst under Michael Matheny. Joined November 1. 
  • Brian Aloisi — Project Manager under Josh Peterson. Joining November 22. 
  • Jennifer Nichols — Application Developer under Robert Carroll. Joining November 29.  

Celebrate Good Health This Holiday Season With 'Hold the Stuffing' Challenge!

Celebrate good health this holiday season with Health Plus' Hold the Stuffing weight maintenance program! Click here to read more
Those who meet the challenge goal will be entered into a prize drawing:
  • 2 Grand Prize winners will receive an Amazon eGift card for $15
  • 20 Runner-up winners will receive an Amazon eGift card for $25

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 November 2021.
Suggestions? Email dbmicomms@vumc.org.