Read the September issue of the DBMI Digest.
Read the September issue of the DBMI Digest.

A Letter from the Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs: Celebrating Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippor & Sukkot

Dear DBMI family,
In Jewish religion and culture, the new year starts in the fall, beginning on the new moon during the seventh month on the lunar calendar. This date is marked by a string of holidays that focus on reflection, community, prayer, and the foods of the harvest.
The holiday season starts with Rosh Hashana. Rosh Hashana is a two-day celebration of the new year, observed by eating sweet foods such as apples, honey, slice cake, and egg breads made with honey and by spending the day in prayer and reflection. The tenth day of this season is marked by Yom Kippor, the day of atonement. On Yom Kippor, Jews spend the time between sunset on the first day and after sunset on the second day in further reflection, prayer, and a complete fast from food, drink, and work. The fast is broken afterwards, typically in community.
The next week is marked by the Festival of Booths, also called Sukkot. Sukkot celebrates the annual harvest, and there is a custom of eating foods you have never had before each year. During Sukkot, families also eat outside in a temporary structure adorned with items representing the harvest and invite guests over to share meals and celebrate the season.
I also have a personal tradition of going once during this season with family and friends to watch the sunrise from a notable spot. The picture below is the sunrise from the Narrows of the Harpeth State Park just outside Nashville the other day. 
S. Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA
Professor & Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs, Biomedical Informatics; Director, Clinical Effectiveness Research for VHAN; Director, My Health at Vanderbilt; Associate Directo, Medical Innovators Development Program; Professor, Internal Medicine & Pediatrics & Department of Nursing
REMINDER: VUMC provides reasonable accommodations for a person’s sincerely held religious/personal beliefs or practices. If you believe you need a religious, spiritual, or deeply held personal belief accommodation as a current or prospective employee, please contact the Employee and Labor Relations team at 615.343.4759 or Or you can fill out the forms below:

Table of Contents

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

COVID-19 Updates

As a reminder, VUMC updated its masking policy and will no longer require masks in indoor, non-clinical areas for vaccinated individuals. The following guidance applies to our space in 2525 West End Avenue (and VU Students): 
In addition, the new bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccines are available, which employees are required to receive by January 15, 2023
That said, we encourage you to remain cautious as COVID-19 is still circulating in our community. Follow VUMC’s COVID-19 safety protocols, and do the following if you are exposed:
If you have any other questions or concerns, please review the VUMC COVID-19 Information Page.

InformaticCon 2022: RECAP

The Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC) hosted its first ever InformaticCon event on Wednesday, September 28th, 2022 in the VU Student Life Center Board of Trust Room. The event celebrated and showcased a variety of clinical informatics-focused projects that people from across VUMC are or have worked on, and we believe the end result was a display of a truly diverse array of work! During the first hour of the event, eight speakers gave lightning-style (no longer than 7-minute) talks, and for the second hour, we held a poster session with 27 presenters.
"So far, the feedback has been really positive, and we are looking forward to hosting InformaticCon 2023 (in a bigger space)!" says Elise Russo
"It was a lot of fun to get the community of clinical informatics researchers at Vanderbilt together," says Adam Wright. "We got to learn from each other and build connections that I’m confident will lead to new collaborations and benefits to our patients." 
"Our first ever InformaticCon was a huge success, and so much fun!" says Allison McCoy. "We had about 70 in-person attendees from all across the medical center to learn about exciting clinical informatics projects carried out by our faculty, students, and staff."
Below are some of the presentations from the event:
  • Allison McCoy presented a poster on the Clinical Informatics Core.
  • Scott Nelson discussed his team's work that improves naloxone prescribing to reduce opioid-related deaths.
  • Benjamin Collins discussed how race and ethnicity influences patient trust in health care.
  • Jonathan Wanderer presented about the VUMC physician builder program.
  • Cosby Stone described how low risk penicillin allergy labels can be successfully challenged and removed through an informatics intervention. 

DBMI at Flulapalooza!


Epic hosted its annual User Group Meeting (UGM) in Verona, WI August 22-24. Several VCLIC members and HealthIT staff, including VCLIC Members Allison McCoy, Adam Wright, Travis Osterman, Patty Sengstack, Dara Mize, Yaa Kumah-Crystal, and Neal Patel attended. Neal Patel and Travis Osterman delivered presentations. One highlight was the Epic-Vanderbilt dinner at The Great Dane, pictured below! 

HR Reminders

Annual Goal Setting: 2023 Pillar Goals

As we head into this new fiscal year, our Pillar Goals take on a renewed importance. Part of this process is staff annual goal setting; this is increasingly important with the continued growth of the DBMI department. VUMC continues to see the impact of the pandemic's ripple effects at a local, national, and global economic level. Improving our performance across the People, Service, Quality, Growth and Finance, and Innovation pillars creates a more robust business and strengthens our future. 
The goal-setting process is an integral part in setting staff up for a successful year ahead. Keeping in mind that goals should be about aligning employees with long- and short-term actionable goals relevant to both individual and departmental growth. The establishment of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals allows for a more effective annual evaluation process for staff and leadership alike. At this time, we want to focus on completing goal setting by October 14th, 2022
For more information and to review VUMC's 2023 Enterprise Pillar Goals, please see the email sent by Jennifer Martellotti on Friday, Sept. 30

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Call for Twitter Profile Submissions:

Hispanic Heritage Month — September 15 to October 15

Hispanic Heritage Month lasts until October 15. We are still looking for volunteers in DBMI to be profiled on Twitter. NOTE: Anyone can participate, including allies!
Volunteers will be asked about their work and lives, and they will be asked to answer: "What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?"
If you're interested, please contact Mia Garchitorena at and she will provide next steps.

Faculty News

Fisk, Meharry, Vanderbilt Awarded NIH Grant to Support Diverse Students in Data Science

Kim Unertl is a Co-PI on the R25 grant newly awarded to Meharry Medical College titled “The Fisk-Meharry-Vanderbilt Biomedical Informatics Ecosystem to Support Diverse Students in Data Science.” VUMC DBMI will collaborate with Fisk University and Meharry Medical College in the Biomedical Informatics Ecosystem to Support Talented Diverse Students in Data Science (BEST-DS2) program.
DBMI will provide two summer research experience positions for students throughout the five years of the grant, with one student from Fisk and one student from Meharry each year. Congrats!

14th Annual REDCapCon Held Last Week 

Last week marked the 14th REDCapCon and a return to in-person attendance after being held virtually the past two years. The 3 ½ day event was hosted by Harvard Catalyst and held in-person in Boston, MA. Stephany Duda, Alex Cheng, and Paul Harris gave presentations and provided organizational oversight for the conference. The meeting was incredibly productive with many presentations demonstrating how REDCap is supporting clinical and translational research across the world. 
One presentation detailed how a consortium partner REDCap team at Oxford University used REDCap to provide comprehensive support for the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.
The conference was the largest REDCapCon on record with 377 registrants from 263 unique institutions spanning 42 of the 50 US states and 22 countries located across 6 continents.

More News:

  • Josh Peterson, Lisa Bastarache, ST Bland and Dan Roden published an article in JAMA Oncology titled "Association of Pathogenic Variants in Hereditary Cancer Genes With Multiple Diseases". Click to read more.
  • Lisa Bastarache and Douglas Ruderfer were awarded a R01 from NHGRI for their project “Translating the Clinical Knowledge of Mendelian Diseases to Real-world EHR Data to Improve Identification of Undiagnosed Patients”.
  • The National Cancer Institute awarded a R21 to Travis Osterman and Christine Micheel for their project “Oncology Knowledge Rapid Alerts: Integrating biomarker-driven clinical decision support for therapy selection at point-of-care”.

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

Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, 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


Congrats to KJ Krause & Eric Kerchberger on Successfully Defending their MS Dissertations!

KJ Krause's Project Title: "Applying Network Analysis and Supervised Learning to Electronic Clinical Notes to Improve Operational Suicide Risk Prevention at an Academic Medical Center"
Eric Kerchberger's Project Title: "Temporal-informed phenotyping scans the medical phenome to identify new diagnoses after recovery from COVID-19

DBMI Spotlight: Sandra Holtzclaw

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!  
On October 25th, Sandra Holtzclaw will celebrate one year working in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI). She is a Program Manager working with the Finance Team along with Elizabeth Brown, Terri DeMumbrum and Doug McCoy. Her responsibilities include preparing IPAs (Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement] for various projects between VUMC and the VA. She also submits effort support changes on staff and faculty members within the EPAC system along with other responsibilities/support as needed.

Outside of work, she spends time traveling and doing short roadtrips around Tennessee or other places. She also spends a lot of her time with her grandchildren. During the COVID lockdown, her family kept in close contact by talking on the phone or Zooming with her siblings, family members and close friends living across the US. 
“Family is important to us,” she says. “My mom and dad instilled in us to take care of and love each other. Close friends are also part of her extended family. That continues to this day.”  
Spending time with family is especially important for Sandi. During the month of September, she celebrates both of her daughters’ birthdays – especially that of her youngest, Kandyce, who passed away from complications related to sickle cell anemia about five years ago.
Pictured right: Kandyce and Sandi
“Kandyce would give her last dollar out of her wallet or take the shirt off her back if she felt someone needed the help. She was an inspiration to so many people,” Sandi says, describing her daughter. “She had a heart of gold.” 
September happens to also be National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. In observation of this month, Sandi shares her family’s story to bring about awareness of the disease.

Growing Up

Sandi is a Nashville native, born and raised in the neighborhood now known as The Nations. Her father worked at a nearby Federal Chemical company while her mother worked as a cafeteria manager for Metro Nashville Public Schools, including at Sandi’s elementary school. It was common for Sandi and her seven siblings to ride with their mother to work and wait in the cafeteria before the school day began.
Pictured left: Sandi and her siblings.
“We knew not to get in trouble because it would immediately get back to Mama,” she says with a laugh.
Sandi gravitated towards math and science at an early age, thanks to a favorite biology teacher of hers. At the time, Sandi says there were many STEM programs offering scholarships to people of color to attend, and she heavily considered applying to medical school. “In my graduating high school class, I was 10 out of 240.”
Instead, Sandi got married after graduating high school and attended college in Nashville. Though the couple divorced after a few years of marriage, they happily welcomed a daughter, Kamecia.
Sandi later met software analyst Larry Holtzclaw, and in 1979, the family moved to Dallas where Larry worked at Texas Instruments and Sandi majored in healthcare administration at the University of Texas, Dallas. They lived in Dallas for about 11 years, and along the way, their daughter Kandyce was born.


Early on in her pregnancy, Sandi’s OB/GYN physician discovered through bloodwork tests that both she and her husband, Larry, had the sickle cell trait (SCT). “He sat us down and shared the chances of our child having sickle cell anemia, SCT, anemia or another blood disorder.”
Pictured right: Kandyce
Sickle cell anemia is a type of blood disorder in which a person’s red blood cells, which are normally round, flexible and can easily move through blood vessels, are shaped like sickles or crescent moons. Sickle cells can also become rigid and can slow or block blood flow to other parts of the body – often causing pain in areas without proper blood flow.
According to the CDC, sickle cell disease (SCD) affects millions of people throughout the world and is particularly common among those whose ancestors came from sub-Saharan Africa; Spanish-speaking regions in the Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America); Saudi Arabia; India; and Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans – with 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births and 1 out of every 16,3000 Hispanic-American births. About 1 in 13 Black or African-American babies is born with SCT.
About six months after Kandyce was born, Sandi noticed that one of Kandyce’s hands were swollen, describing the swelling like a bite mark from a spider. Their family pediatrician ordered bloodwork and unfortunately confirmed that Kandyce had sickle cell anemia.
“I’ll never forget the doctor delivering the results. He even teared up,” she says. “I’m thankful for him because from that point forward, we were exposed to knowledgeable staff in Dallas and the Children’s Hospital.”

Navigating through Difficulties

Challenges arose after Sandi and her family moved to Atlanta. Not only did it take time to find a physician experienced with treating pediatric patients with sickle cell anemia, but Kandyce also began experiencing frequent pain crises associated with sickle cell anemia as she went through adolescence and puberty. 
Pictured left: Kandyce (left) and Kamecia (right). 
Sandi had many sit-down conversations with Kandyce on being careful about spending too much time in hot weather, swimming shortly after eating, navigating pain following a menstrual cycle or testing whether her future partner or husband would have SCT before having children.
One of the treatments for sickle cell anemia is blood transfusions, which Kandyce received many times throughout her life. Unfortunately, Kandyce was later diagnosed with Hepatitis C (possibly due to exposure to Hep C through a contaminated blood transfusion), which caused her liver to deteriorate. Sandi and her family transferred Kandyce to hospice before she passed away on February 14, 2017. She was 34.
“If you met and looked at Kandyce, you would not know she had a chronic illness,” Sandi explains. “She was up and about, living her life. She was determined to beat the odds.”
Kandyce did have children of her own. They, too, have SCT and Sandi continues to have similar conversations with her grandchildren to educate them.

Raising Awareness

Sandi says she and Kandyce often participated in walks and runs to raise awareness about sickle cell anemia. Though she hasn’t participated in an event since Kandyce’s passing, Sandi continues to educate herself and others on the disease.
Pictured right: Sandi with family and friends at a Sickle Cell Awareness 5k Walk
For example, Sandi explains that SCD was often associated with only Black and African-American patients. People whose ancestors came from Spanish-speaking regions in Western Hemisphere (South America, the Caribbean, and Central America), Saudi Arabia, India, and Mediterranean countries (such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy) can also have SCD.
“You can find families of mixed races who have the trait, and if someone is not aware they have the trait, they may also find someone of mixed race and their child may be born with the anemia,” Sandi says.

Moving Forward

Working in health care has helped Sandi learn more about research and clinical practice related to SCD and other diseases. In fact, she’s pleased to know that there is a Sickle Cell Disease Center of Excellence at Vanderbilt – an institution she’s worked at in various roles since 2000.
Since joining DBMI in 2021, she is happy to work alongside faculty and staff who seek to improve health care disparities through research and informatics.
"I enjoy working in DBMI. The research that is ongoing within our department is so impressive. It is an honor to be associated with the DBMI team members," she says.
Pictured below (L to R): Sandi with Kamecia and her grandchildren; Sandi with her current partner, Sam, in Gatlinburg; Sandi at Clingman's Dome, 2020. 

Funding News & 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 upcoming events in fall 2022 and previous/recorded DBMI webinars from January to April 2022.
Suggestions? Email