The April 2024 issue of the DBMI Digest is now available!
The April 2024 issue of the DBMI Digest is now available!

DBMI Quarterly Kudos: Winner & Nominations

April 2024 Quarterly Kudos Winner: Cynthia Williams

Nominated by Mia Garchitorena
"Cynthia stepped in to assist with the Grand Rounds and has been a LIFESAVER! Her impeccable organization and efficiency has tremendously helped the Grand Rounds team with setting up events for both internal and external speakers. We're so grateful for her!”

Kelly Hammonds

Nominated by Mia Garchitorena: “Kelly has been an incredible asset to the DBMI Admin Leadership team - especially when planning for Grand Rounds and faculty candidate seminars! She is communicative, organized, and quick on her feet. I truly appreciate her and everything she brings to the table!”
Nominated by Laurie Novak: “Kelly helped coordinate the ADVANCE Center launch - her efforts were essential to success of the event!”

Jennifer Martellotti

Nominated by Mia Garchitorena: “Jennifer continues to be a pivotal part of DBMI! She has her hand in many buckets but she takes on and completes various tasks with grace and high levels of organization and efficiency. She's also such a joy to talk to! DBMI is incredibly lucky to have her!”
Nominated by Laurie Novak: “Jennifer has taken on an informal leadership role in numerous initiatives. She was key to the ADVANCE Center launch and the follow-up of the strategic planning activities.”

Eric Torstenson

Nominated by Robert Carroll: “Eric has done an outstanding job this quarter expanding his leadership of our team. We have onboarded a new team member for whom he has provided great technical mentorship. He is also showing great leadership for our team in planning and designing new tools in new cloud environments. During this time, he has continued to deliver as an individual contributor to our work.”
Nominated by Ann Holmes: “Eric provides exceptional mentorship and expertise in the lab of Dr. Robert Carroll working with health-related database initiatives such as INCLUDE and All of Us. Eric encourages his peers to learn new skills and takes extra time to ensure understanding of concepts!"
Nominated by Anonymous: “Eric has been diligently supporting numerous projects and doing a great job balancing them! With his busy schedule, he still finds time to fix bugs and talk through issues with me. He is never too busy to lend a helping hand.”

Julia Groh

Nominated by Laurie Novak: “Julia did an amazing job coordinating and working on the ADVANCE Center launch, and it was great!”
Nominated by Mia Garchitorena: “Julia has been an outstanding member of DBMI. She is adept at managing projects related to ADVANCE, press releases, and strategic planning. She's incredibly organized and trustworthy - and gets things done correctly and in a timely manner. I'm super grateful to call her a colleague!”

Mia Garchitorena

Nominated by Laurie Novak: “Mia went above and beyond the call of duty in her work on the ADVANCE Center launch, and it was great!"

Table of Contents

  1. DBMI Quarterly Kudos Winner & Nominations, April 2024
  2. DBMI Grand Rounds Fall 2024
  3. HR & Admin Updates
  4. VUMC Honors & Accolades
  5. DBMI Spotlight: Rischelle Jenkins
  6. Open Positions & Upcoming Events

DBMI Grand Rounds: Resumes Fall 2024

The DBMI Grand Rounds for Spring 2024 ended in April. Many thanks to our internal and external speakers who participated and presented on important topics such as AI, learning health systems, telehealth during the pandemic, Epic and EHRs! 
The Fall 2024 series will resume on Wednesday, August 28, and will take place every Wednesday from 12-1PM CT in 2525 West End Avenue, Room 8110 (unless otherwise noted). Microsoft Teams links are available for remote attendees. Please see the DBMI Events Page for the most up-to-date information on upcoming speakers and topics:
NOTE: Formal invites for each talk are sent out via Outlook closer to the event date. Contact and with questions, feedback and/or suggestions for guest speakers.
Grand Rounds Spring Series: August 28 – December 13, 2024
Lunch provided first-come, first-served
CME available

HR & Admin Updates

VUMC Culture Survey is May 2-16

VUMC wants to make our workplace even better, and we need your help. You can share your thoughts in the upcoming 2024 VUMC Culture Survey. The survey is a combination of three surveys — the engagement survey, the safety culture survey, and the nursing excellence survey. The employee engagement section of the survey features 48 questions covering areas such as involvement, teamwork, career development and overall job satisfaction. VUMC includes all entities that make up the organization, including those on the 21st Avenue campus and all Vanderbilt Health clinics and regional hospitals.

All full- and part-time VUMC staff, house staff, VIP, rural health and Aramark employees as of March 4 are asked to complete the engagement and safety sections. Faculty, fellows and advanced practice providers are invited to participate in the safety culture survey. Nurses, including APRNs in staff and faculty roles, will also take the nursing excellence section. Please complete the survey by 11:59 p.m. CST, Thursday, May 16.

On Thursday, May 2, you will receive a personalized email with a unique link inviting you to participate in the culture survey. The email will be sent to your email address. It will come from VUMC Culture Survey ( and the subject line will read “Your Voice Matters: Take the 2024 VUMC Culture Survey Today!

No one at VUMC will have access to the list of survey links, so the results remain confidential. Qualtrics is an independent vendor VUMC has hired to conduct the survey to ensure responses remain confidential. 

DBMI Honors & Accolades

VUMC, Yale & Moorehouse School of Medicine Announce 14 Community Partnerships to Boost Diversity in Clinical Trials 

The Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development (EQBMED) is a collaborative effort that aims to connect with sites across the US to increase awareness of the benefits of diverse participation in clinical trials. The EQBMED recently announcement partnerships with 14 esteemed community and faith-based organizations and professional societies to further promote equitable access to clinical trials. 
Community and faith-based organizations will partner with EQBMED to develop strategies to more effectively engage and incorporate community perspectives in clinical trials. The groups will hold listening sessions, and develop tested tools, models, and messages to support community engagement and participation.
“Successfully addressing the many challenges to diversifying clinical trial participation requires the efforts and talents of a diverse group of partners,” said Peter Embí, MD, MS, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Senior Vice-President for Research and Innovation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Each community leadership and professional organization brings their own particular expertise to EQBMED, and each will be critical to developing and delivering on a comprehensive strategy to increase diversity at each of our sites.” Read more here

VUMC Spring 2024 Faculty Assembly:

Colin Walsh Named Recipient of Kevin B. Johnson Award

The 2024 School of Medicine Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Outstanding Contributions to Research and Extraordinary Performance of Clinical Service were presented during the annual spring faculty meeting. Colin Walsh received the Kevin B. Johnson Award for Innovative Approaches Advancing Clinical Practice and/or Biomedical Research. Click here to read more

DBMI Faculty Awards

Our second DBMI All-Hands Meeting took place on Thursday, April 25, 2024. In recognition of our outstanding faculty, DBMI distributed the following awards: Outstanding Educator Award, the TODE Award, and the Outstanding Researcher Award. Congrats to all! 

DBMI Faculty "Outstanding Educator Award" Winner: Jessica Ancker

The recipient of the 2024 DBMI Outstanding Educator Award is Jessica Ancker, Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs!
As a leader, Jessica works with Kim Unertl, Rischelle Jenkins, Scott Nelson and others to coordinate the smooth operation and evolution of the training programs.
Many thanks to the selection committee that included Zhijun Yin, Uday Suresh, Creea Shannon, Katie Brown, and Laurie Novak.  Here are some comments about this year’s Outstanding Educator:
"Jessica is a great teacher who works hard to make sure that lessons not only teach the most up to date and relevant material, but also the canonical and classic material that frames informatics as a discipline. One student noted how much the students benefit from the course this faculty member teaches, and how enjoyable the class is."

"Jessica mentors students in the details of carrying out research, taking time to meet and solve problems. One student commented on how much this person cares, taking care to give the students as many opportunities to succeed as possible. I would also note that this person not only mentors students but other faculty, and has made mentoring a real priority in the department and among the leadership."

"Jessica also takes a lot of initiative to organize extracurricular social events for students and faculty alike. The last few times that we have been brought together in a casual format as a department have mostly been due to her insistence." Congrats, Jessica!

DBMI Faculty "TODE Award" Winner: Scott Nelson

The Technology, Organizational Development and Evaluation (TODE) Award is presented annually to a faculty member of DBMI who has made significant contributions toward the management of informatics resources in the VUMC.
This year, the 2024 DBMI TODE Award is presented to Scott Nelson, Director of the MS in Applied Clinical Informatics (MSACI) Program!
Scott is known for his optimistic outlook in informatics. Scott is always eager to take on challenges to improve care delivery, especially in the area of medication safety, which includes medication reconciliation, e-prescribing, and clinical decision support.
Scott has also tirelessly worked to grow the MSACI program, resulting in increased enrollment, accreditations, and certifications. He is a true role model for doing good work, no matter what Sisyphusian obstacles come your way. Congrats, Scott!

DBMI Faculty "Outstanding Researcher Award" Winner: Robert Carroll

The recipient of the 2024 DBMI Outstanding Researcher Award is Robert Carroll, Associate Professor in DBMI! 
Robert's pioneering work on the AnVIL Clinical Environment for Innovation and Translation (ACE-IT) has established novel benchmarks in the field of clinical genomics research. In 2023, he was awarded a prestigious U24 grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute. This grant supports the ACE-IT project, aimed at augmenting the current ecosystem by incorporating a wide-ranging suite of clinical genomics research tools and services. This initiative promises to empower researchers with advanced resources, paving the way for groundbreaking discoveries that hold the potential to transform patient care and health outcomes.
Robert's academic contributions are remarkable. He has made significant scholarly impacts with a Google h-index of 43. Within the year 2023 alone, he has authored 10 papers that provide critical insights and extend the boundaries of genomics research. His work, noted for its thoroughness and originality, stands as a powerful demonstration of his unwavering commitment to research excellence. Congrats, Robert!
Brad Malin joined the Festival of Genomics and Biodata to discuss how to build world-class datasets through genomic initiatives. 
Sharon Davis discussed reactive and proative examples of AI model updating and proposed a learning prediction system at the University of Michigan's Department of Learning Health Sciences. The proposed framework: How do you determine if a drift has occurred? What data should be collected? What is the best approach for updating?
More DBMI News:

DBMI Spotlight: Rischelle Jenkins

Each month, we 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 the 14th floor of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s (VUMC) 2525 West End Avenue building, Rischelle Jenkins can often be found energetically typing emails and answering her office phone that chimes nearly every day, all year-round.
“Good afternoon, this is the Biomedical Informatics program, this is Rischelle!” she says enthusiastically.
“Hi, Rischelle, I just wanted to check in with you about the status of my application,” says a young student on the other line.
As the Program Manager of the Master’s and PhD program in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) at Vanderbilt University (VU), Rischelle knows exactly who the student is and how to help. After all, she’s been the first point of contact for informatics students at Vanderbilt and applicants since she joined the department in March 1, 2001.
“I’ve always called the students my babies even though they’re adults,” Rischelle says with a laugh. “It’s imperative for me to always show people what to expect from the Department of Biomedical Informatics, and that they will never be an interruption in my day. Whether I’m at the office or working from home, people are always welcome to contact me anytime. They have my number!” She continues: “I’m here because of the students!”
Rischelle’s heartwarming persona has made a noteworthy impact in the informatics field. For about two decades, her name is usually the first that students thank in their capstone presentations and doctoral dissertations.
“Having been to so many student defenses over the years, Rischelle is included in the acknowledgment slides of almost every single student,” says Kim Unertl, Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics, and former MS and PhD student in DBMI. “In fact, I can’t think of any student who hasn’t included her. That’s the norm!”
DBMI staff and former students-turned-faculty can often be seen chatting with Rischelle in the hallways, sharing details about their weddings, children, and elderly parents’ wellbeing. And at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Symposiums, alumni and even applicants who didn’t participate in Vanderbilt’s MS/PhD program regularly stop by DBMI’s booth to say hello to Rischelle, specifically.
“When you’re applying to grad school, you’re in a disconnected place. You don’t know much about the institution,” Kim continues. “Rischelle helps applicants navigate that. She’s an important friendly face and a welcoming presence for people.”
“People may not ever remember what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel,” Rischelle says. “I want to be that person that gives them warmth and love and makes them feel comfortable. The fact that people do remember how I made them feel makes me feel even better.” 

Celebrating 40 Years at Vanderbilt

In April 2024, Rischelle celebrated her 40th work anniversary at the University, and her VUMC and VU colleagues showed up for her in various ways to show their love and support.

On April 11, VU hosted a special program at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center to celebrate Black employees who have been with the institution for more than 25 years. Rischelle and other employees were recognized for their work at VU, and in honor of their commitment, VU unveiled a wall mural showcasing the history of Black employees at the University.
“In my time as the Director of the Black Cultural Center, we’ve hosted hundreds of programs. None of them were as powerful or as meaningful as the Recognition Ceremony held for those who have provided so many years of service to Vanderbilt University,” said Rosevelt Noble, Associate Dean of Students for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging; Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology; and Faculty Head of House at the Ingram Commons at VU.
“Many of the honorees are the unsung heroes of the university who are often overlooked and never given the recognition they deserve. It was very rewarding to give so many people their flowers while they could still smell them!”
On April 26, DBMI faculty, staff and students recognized Rischelle at a quarterly All-Hands meeting, followed by a reception catered by the historic Nashville restaurant Monell’s, one of Rischelle’s favorite local establishments. “It was a memorable occasion. I am appreciative of all the work invested in celebrating my 40 years,” she says.
“To say it has been a pleasure to work with Rischelle is an understatement,” says Peter Embi, Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics, Professor of Medicine and Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at VUMC. “Rischelle embodies the spirit and soul of the department and is always focused on making sure that everyone in DBMI and everyone we interact with has an outstanding experience. She’s an amazing colleague, friend, and ambassador for DBMI, and we are so fortunate to have benefitted from her service for so many years. Thank you, Rischelle!”
"Someone with her level of experience and her fantastic skills and generally being so great to be with—she can get a job anywhere, and she’s chosen to be here for a long time,” explains Jessica Ancker, Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs in DBMI. “I want to make sure we value that. It's a true gift!”
“I didn’t have to go outside of Vanderbilt to advance,” Rischelle says. “I was able to do my 40 years right here. That’s been beneficial. I’m here now because of the growth I’ve done over the years, and because of the great mentors in my life who have taken an interest in my professional development. For that, I’m deeply grateful.”
An in-depth story about Rischelle will be published in VUMC Voice in May 2024. Stay tuned! 

Open Positions

Feel free to share our DBMI Open Positions with your friends and colleagues! 
Contact Jennifer Martellotti with questions. 

REMINDER: Update Your DBMI Bio Page

REMINDER: Please review your DBMI bio page and notify us of any changes. Updates can include:
  • New headshot
  • Updated degrees, professional titles
  • Updated bio information
  • Adding Google Scholar, PubMed, LinkedIn URLs
Email Mia Garchitorena ( and Wil Comstock (

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