A Letter from the Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs

Hi everyone, 
I'd like to relay a story to you, with the family's permission:
The other day, a friend of mine called me terrified. Her mother-in-law, who lives in rural Alabama, had not been feeling well all week. On Friday, she saw her primary care doctor, who checked her blood counts and found that her white blood counts are about 20 times above the normal limit. This was an acute form of leukemia until proven otherwise, and possibly emergently life-threatening.
The family immediately rushed to the nearest big hospital, which she described as looking like a war zone: It was beyond overwhelmed by all the patients sick with COVID during this unprecedented surge. They tried to find her a place to get care, but nobody had beds. She called me, I called our colleague Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, FAMIA, and we got them up to Vanderbilt.
Now here is the key part: Vanderbilt was able to admit her to the ICU efficiently. Vanderbilt did have ICU beds. The reason why we could help this family friend of mine — despite also being overwhelmed by COVID — is because members of our community were able to step up and help cover the ICU and allow us to expand how many critically ill people we can care for. Thanks to our own faculty who set aside their apprehension and fear, found coverage for their regular work, and dug out an old set of scrubs from the bottom of their clothing drawer, Vanderbilt has been able to continue providing high-quality and responsive care for the sickest patients in middle Tennessee. 
My friend's mother-in-law was admitted, received the necessary critical care, and was then stabilized and able to transition to a regular hospital bed to begin her therapeutic journey. The family is incredibly thankful for the care they have received. I want to share this gratitude with all of you, and thank those faculty members who were able to step in.
Also, a huge thank you to Joyce Green who has kept DBMI organized and able to respond when Vanderbilt called on us. 
Take care and be safe,
S. Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, Professor & Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs of DBMI; Director, Clinical Effectiveness Research for VHAN and My Health at Vanderbilt; Associate Directo, Medical Innovators Development Program; Professor, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Nursing

Table of Contents

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

Department News & Announcements

2021 State of the Department of Biomedical Informatics — TODAY

As a reminder, the 2021 State of the Department will take place today, September 15, from 12:00-1:00 pm CT. *NOTE: This meeting will be recorded.
As we do every year, we take this time to review how we as a department have done in the prior year, and what we plan to accomplish going forward.
We'll highlight faculty, staff and students, as well as review the achievements of our various Centers and Labs. We will also take time to answer questions about our future, given the announced changes in DBMI administration.

Here are the topics we'll cover in detail: 
  • Overall trends in DBMI’s size and infrastructure
  • Understand the achievements of each major area of focus, including education
  • Describe our goals for the current and upcoming fiscal years
REGISTER IN ADVANCE FOR THE MEETING HERE: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUvdeCvrDoiHdJSJyAgOIR-3fprGS3XlZPE.  
— Kevin Johnson, MD, MS, FAAP, FAMIA, FACMI, FIAHSI, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and DBMI Chair

Change to eRA Commons Accounts as of Sept. 15

As of today, all users will be required to access eRA Commons, Internet Assisted Review (IAR), and ASSIST via a login.gov account. eRA account credentials will no longer work after Sept. 15. 
To associate your eRA account with your login.gov account, do the following:
  • Visit the eRA Commons homepage
  • Click on ‘LOGIN.GOV’ in the upper left-hand corner
  • Follow the on-screen prompts.
  • Do not go straight to login.gov to create your account. 
The use of login.gov credentials will add two-factor authentication and make user accounts more secure. Please note that VUMC will not be moving to a federated account. For more information about this process, or if you would like to review the eRA cheat sheet, contact Terri DeMumbrum, Grants Manager in DBMI, at terri.demumbrum@vumc.org.

Jessica Ancker Speaking at 2021 Health Communication Forum

On September 20 from 3:30-5:00 pm CT, Jessica Ancker, PhD, MPH, Professor and Vice Chair for Educational Affairs in DBMI, will be hosting the 2021 Health Communication Research Forum, established by the Vanderbilt Center for Effective Health Communication.
If you have any questions, email cehc@vumc.org.

DBMI Welcomes a New Arrival!

Francois Bastardot, MS student in DBMI, and his wife, Isabelle, welcomed their second child, Mathis. 
Mathis was born on August 16 in Lausanne, Switzerland. "Lucas is a proud big brother!" they said. 
Congratulations to Francois and his family!

Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC) News

Introducing the Clinical Informatics Core

The mission of the Clinical Informatics Core is to enable VUMC researchers to design and implement electronic health record (EHR)-related tools, functionalities, and interventions with input and assistance from clinical informatics experts, as well as to gain access to and analyze EHR-based data. Allison McCoy, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI, is Scientific Director of the Clinical Informatics Core.
To make a service request, please complete the REDCap form herehttps://redcap.link/vclic_core. For general questions or specific questions on a service request, please e-mail Elise Russo, MPH, PMP, Project Manager of the Core, at elise.russo@vumc.org.

VCLIC Seminar: Innovative Care Delivery Models for Mental Health with Dr. Cheryl Cobb — September 22

VCLIC is hosting its first seminar this year, focusing on Innovative Care Delivery Models for mental health. Please join us on Wednesday, September 22 from 12:00-1:00 pm CTZoom details coming soon. 

This seminar will be provided by Cheryl Cobb, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Medical Director of Outpatient Services for Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at VUMC. Dr. Cobb will give an overview of mental health, including definitions, prevalence, burden on the system and more. She will also discuss the ways that technology impacts (including benefits and challenges) the provision of mental health care as well as some potential ideas for a way forward using technology and innovative care delivery methods to enhance this area.  

For questions, please contact Elise Russo at elise.russo@vumc.org.   

Data Resources and Analytics in Mental Health: Basics Workshop — October 5

Please join Dr. Allison McCoy and Bryan Steitz, PhD, for the VCLIC October workshop on Oct. 5 from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm CT. In this workshop, participants will learn about available data sources at VUMC within Epic (SlicerDicer, Reporting Workbench, Clarity) and developed locally (Synthetic Derivative, Research Derivative) and gain hands-on experience in manipulating data.
This workshop will cover similar concepts to the Disparities Data Lab workshop from February 2021 but will use mental health data and examples. Complete this REDCap form to sign uphttps://redcap.link/MentalHealthDataBasics.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Twitter Profiles — Call for Submissions:

National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 — October 15)

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, we'd like to feature a few faculty, staff, students or trainees on Twitter. *NOTE: Anyone is welcome to contribute!
If interested, please email Mia Garchitorena at mia.garchitorena@vumc.org!

October 30 – November 3, 2021

If you haven't already, be sure to register for AMIA 2021 here! Reminder: AMIA updated its health and safety policy. See here for more info
See other AMIA news below: 
  • Do you have a graduate degree in health informatics or a related field and qualifying health informatics experience? You may be eligible for AHIC, the AMIA Health Informatics Certification. Deadline: September 20. See here for more info

Faculty News

Study Shows Gene-Drug Interactions are Common

Josh Peterson, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, Director of the Center for Precision Medicine (CPM), was co-principal investigator on a study that found that a significant portion of adults treated at medical institutions across the United States is exposed to medications for which genetic information, if available, should be used to guide prescribing. The study was published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Henry Ong, PhD, Senior Project Manager in CPM, and Leigh Anne Tang, PhD student in DBMI, were involved in the study. Read more in the VUMC Reporter.

Lisa Bastarache: "Using Phecodes for Research with the Electronic Health Record: From PheWAS to PheRS"

Lisa Bastarache, MS, Research Associate Professor in DBMI, discussed phenocodes in an annual review article published in the Annual Review of Biomedical Data Science. Click to read more. She also discussed phenocodes on Twitter. Join the conversation here.

Brad Malin Published Study: "Protecting Research Data of Publicly Revealing Participants"

A new paper by Brad Malin, PhD, FACMI, FAIMBE, FIAHSI, published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences covers how to protect your data and lists the steps you can take as a researcher to keep participants as well as yourself safe. Click to read more
Dr. Malin is Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Biostatistics and Computer Science, Vice Chair for Research Affairs in Biomedical Informatics and Affiliated Faculty in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society.

Daniel Byrne Published Study: "A Predictive Model of Reintubation after Cardiac Surgery Using EHR"

Daniel Byrne, MS, Senior Associate in Biostatistics and DBMI, was an author on a paper that found an improved understanding of reintubation risk may lead to improved decision-making at extubation and targeted interventions to decrease reintubation in high-risk patients. The paper was published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Click to read more.

Cosmin "Adi" Bejan Published Study: "Certain Drug Exposures Correlate With Reduced COVID Severity"

Analyzing EHR of 9,748 patients diagnosed with COVID-19, Cosmin "Adi "Bejan, PhD, Assistant Professor in DBMI, Dr. Josh Peterson, Elizabeth Phillips, MD, and colleagues at VUMC asked whether COVID disease severity correlated with any drugs that happened to be taken by these patients in the months leading up to their diagnosis. Read more in the VUMC Reporter

You Chen Published Study: "Measuring Collaboration Through Concurrent EHR Usage"  

You Chen, PhD, Assistant Professor in DBMI, and colleagues aimed to measure health care worker collaboration and its characteristics by analyzing concurrent EHR usage. Click to read more.

DBMI & VUMC Researchers Publish Study on the Impact of Acute & Chronic Diseases on Forecasting Neonatal Encephalopathy

A team of DBMI and VUMC researchers measured and quantified the impact of acute and chronic diseases on the neonatal encephalopathy (NE) forecast, which can help health care organizations and clinicians prioritize the management of chronic and acute diseases to prevent NE.
Authors of the study include Digna Velez Edwards, PhD, MS, Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology and DBMI; Eugene Jeong, PhD student in DBMI; Cheng Gao, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow; and Drs. You Chen and Brad Malin. The study was published in Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine. Read more here.

Educational Updates

Education Edition of DBMI Digest — DBMI Welcomes New Students!

We are delighted to welcome our incoming class of predoctoral, postdoctoral, and professional trainees from around the world. This fall, we are welcoming:
  • 2 PhD students
  • 1 degree-seeking and 1 non-degree postdoctoral trainee
  • 1 Fulbright fellow earning an MS
  • 2 MSTP students
  • 2 genomic medicine fellows
  • And 6 MSACI students (including 1 clinical informatics fellow) 

Mirza Khan & KJ Krause Named Finalists in AMIA 2021 Student Paper Competition

Congratulations to Mirza Khan and KJ Krause on this incredible news!
Mirza Khan, MD, MS, Instructor in Clinical Medicine and DBMI, was selected as one of the eight student paper finalists in the AMIA 2021 Annual Symposium for his paper entitled "Intrinsic Evaluation of Contextual and Non-contextual Word Embeddings using Radiology Reports."
Kevin "KJ" Krause, PhD Student in DBMI, was selected as one of the eight student paper finalists in the AMIA 2021 Annual Symposium for his paper entitled "Predicting Motor Responsiveness to Deep Brain Stimulation with Machine Learning."

Celebrating 2021 Postdoc Appreciation Week — Sept. 20-24

Vanderbilt University is celebrating the 12th annual National Postdoc Appreciation Week (NPAW) from September 20-24! See the full lineup of events here
Postdocs: Read the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) September 2021 newsletter here!

DBMI Spotlight: Elise Russo

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!  
Since joining DBMI during the height of the pandemic in April 2020, Elise Russo, MPH, PMP, has been an incredible asset to the Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC).
As the center’s Director of Operations, she keeps VCLIC running by overseeing its events, projects, newsletters, research documentation and more, and working as Director Adam Wright’s right-hand! She is also the project manager on the newly created Clinical Informatics Core, led by Allison McCoy, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI.
Her successes go beyond her career: Elise recently purchased her first house!
“I’m super excited to have space to host my family members, as none of them live locally,” she says.
Elise grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She is the eldest of four, all of whom are close in age. 
Pictured right: Elise (in yellow) with her three siblings.  
Since her father is a cardiologist, Elise wanted to pursue a career in health care. She studied pre-medicine while attending Vanderbilt University, but she had a change of heart after taking organic chemistry.
“I realized, ‘This is really not going very well!” she says with a laugh. She switched to double-major in literature and medicine, health, and society – Vanderbilt’s public health track. “I was always better at the humanities,” she explains.
She then obtained a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, where she studied community health.
At that point, she was unsure what job options were available to her. After a year-long internship, she even entertained the idea of becoming an epidemiologist in a health department, but there weren’t many full-time opportunities open at the time.
Fortunately, after a classmate shared her resume with a researcher based at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, she got a job as a health science specialist in the center’s Department of Medicine. She worked there for five years.
“I learned a ton from the people I worked with – they were all helpful,” she says, adding that she was trained by esteemed researcher Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, who was just beginning his career at the time. He is now the Chief of the Health Policy, Quality and Informatics program at the VA Health Services Research Center for Innovations in Houston.
During that time, Elise was also flying back and forth between Texas and Florida to visit and care for her mother, Betsy, who was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“That experience catalyzed my career and personal life to be the way they are now,” Elise explains. “She was a great lady and mother, and she was very community oriented.” Betsy served in many leadership positions, from president to committee chair to board member of numerous charitable and representative organizations. “She has always been the glue to hold our family together.”
Pictured left: Elise with her mother at her master’s graduation
“After she passed in 2015, I knew I wanted to get my life in gear,” she continues. She went on to attend the Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Texas’ School of Biomedical Informatics, taking classes at night while continuing to manage Dr. Singh’s research team. She also joined the Junior League, an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, which has helped her learn about and engage with several community-oriented philanthropic organizations in Houston and Nashville.
Eventually, she left to work as a Project Manager at the Patient Care Intervention Center in Houston, then moved back to Nashville to work as a Health IT Project Manager for Quandary Peak Research. Along the way, she took formal courses in project management and continued to work with Dean Sittig, PhD, Professor at the University of Texas Health School of Biomedical Informatics and one of Dr. Singh’s close collaborators.
Dr. Sittig is still one of Elise's close friends and mentors.
Pictured right: Dr. Sittig, Elise, and Dr. Singh. 
The project she worked on as part of the Quandary Peak Research team brought her into contact with Dr. Wright. She knew of Dr. Wright from years of working with Dr. Sittig (and just because of his general fame in the field), so she was excited to work closely with him on a professional level.
“He’s the smartest person in any room at any given time,” Elise says. “He understands things faster than anyone. He’s also someone who doesn’t ramble – he gets his points across – and he’s so nice and friendly.” She says these attributes made Dr. Wright an incredible leader and colleague.
In spring 2020, Elise was looking for a new position. Dr. Wright, who joined VUMC’s DBMI, encouraged her to apply for a position in VCLIC. 
“He was a big factor,” Elise says. “He has helped me grow in my career and he gives me a large amount of autonomy. I was lucky to be offered this job.”
"Elise always takes ownership of the projects she works on," says Adam Wright, PhD, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, Professor in DBMI and Director of VCLIC. "I had a vision for VCLIC, but she brought it to life with her diligence, focus and initiative. We’re lucky to have her!"
Though Elise has spent most of her time meeting other DBMI members virtually, she has enjoyed the few moments when she has met people in the office, such as a BBQ lunch that took place at 2525 West End Avenue this summer.
“I like the camaraderie – people here are so nice,” she says. “It’s been a fun year even though everything has been remote.”
Elise is looking forward to a time when students, faculty and staff can safely gather together. “While I’ve built great relationships over Zoom, I can only imagine them being better in person!”
When she’s not working, Elise’s favorite things to do are ride her Peloton and bake “tiny, salty” chocolate chip cookies for her friends in her new (and bigger) kitchen. “They balance each other out!” she says with a laugh.
Congratulations on the new house, Elise! If you’d like her chocolate chip cookie recipe, email her at elise.russo@vumc.org.

WATCH NOW: A Message from Jeff Balser – COVID Surge, Sacrifices and Saving Lives

REMINDER: All VUMC employees must be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption from this requirement by no later than Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, as a condition of employment

Full vaccination requires two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson (or full series of other WHO-approved vaccine). VUMC Occupational Health is providing the Pfizer vaccine. Employees need to have received their first doses by the following dates to ensure full vaccination compliance by Sept. 30:
  • Pfizer vaccination: Sept. 9
  • Moderna vaccination: Sept. 2
  • Due to known limited availability of the J&J vaccine, employees are recommended to get the J&J vaccine by September 21st. Employees can find locations giving the J&J vaccine at https://www.vaccines.gov.
Click here to read more in MyVUMC. If you have any quesitons, please contact Elizabeth Brown, DBMI Chief Business Officer, elizabeth.a.brown@vumc.org.
For all other COVID-19 information for VUMC employees, including how to request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, visit the Occupational Health Employee COVID-19 Information page here.

VUMC Faculty & Physician Wellness Program Launches "When Clinicians Struggle: Finding Support at VUMC" Module 

The VUMC Faculty & Physician Wellness Program has launched When Clinicians Struggle: Finding Support at VUMC, a Quiz Time module that will equip clinicians to recognize well-being needs in themselves and in their colleagues, as well as ensuring they know how to find and utilize support resources available through the Faculty & Physician Wellness Program.
The Faculty and Physician Wellness Program offers robust services to VUMC faculty and physicians that include counseling, coaching, assessment and treatment plans. Read more in MyVUMC here.
September is Suicide Prevention Month. If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are resources available 24/7: The National Suicide Prevention lifeline (1-800-273-8255), Crisis Text Line (text “TALK” to 741741) and the Trevor Project hotline (1-866-488-7386), and the Trevor Project Text Line (text “START” to 678678).

Flulapalooza is Back, Live & In-Person — Sept. 22

VUMC’s one-day mass vaccine event is back in person this year.
Flulapalooza will be held on Sept. 22, from 6 am to 6 pm in an outdoor tent between Light Hall and the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. Flu vaccination is a requirement for all Medical Center employees. All current employees must be compliant or receive an exemption by Dec. 1, 2021.
The event will offer three vaccine choices:
  • High-dose, recommended for those age 65 and older
  • Egg-free for those with egg allergies
  • Standard
Employees requesting exemption for the flu vaccine can apply here. If employees receive their flu vaccine outside of OHC they can submit documentation here. Click here to read more in MyVUMC.

WATCH NOW: COVID-19 Vaccines, Pregnancy and Fertility

Vanderbilt infectious disease experts Dr. Tom Talbot and Dr. Milner Staub urge pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy to get vaccinated against COVID. The advice holds for men, too. What to know about the vaccines, pregnancy and fertility. 

Funding Opportunities

2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists — APPLY BY OCT. 5. VU + VUMC may submit one nomination per category for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. The three award categories are: Chemistry, Physical Sciences & Engineering, and Life Sciences. These awards honor exceptional young scientists by celebrating their extraordinary achievements, recognizing their inspiring promise, and accelerating their innovations. Awardees will receive $250,000 in unrestricted funds. The deadline for all three internal competitions is October 5, 2021. Read more here.
Amazon Research Awards — APPLY BY OCT. 8. Amazon Research Awards (ARA) is accepting proposals for Fall 2021 in 8 research areas. The ARA offers unrestricted funds and AWS Promotional Credits to support research at academic institutions and non-profit organizations around the world. Funded projects are assigned an Amazon research contact, and recipients also receive training resources, including AWS tutorials and hands-on sessions with Amazon scientists and engineers. Before applying, we encourage researchers to read these FAQs for program information and eligibility.
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: Please Purchase Refundable Flights

If you are traveling anywhere on VUMC-related business, please purchase refundable tickets
Given the ongoing pandemic, some conferences may be be cancelled. Additionally, people may also change their mind about their comfort level with traveling. The cost difference between non-refundable and refundable is usually marginal, and it helps the admin team avoid an administrative headache. If you have any questions, please contact Doug McCoy, Senior Financial Analyst, at douglas.mccoy@vumc.org.

DBMI Welcomes New Employee

Please welcome the following new employee, who recently joined DBMI!
  • Luca Bonomi, PhD — Dr. Bonomi, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics, joined on Sept. 1.

Annual Discussion, 2021

REMINDER: The annual evaluation deadline was extended to October 29, 2021. If your evaluation meeting with your supervisor has already been scheduled, please proceed as planned.
You should refer to the completion instructions that Elizabeth Brown provided to all DBMI staff supervisors and staff via email on June 23. If you have questions or need detailed evaluation instructions, please contact Elizabeth Brown and Belinda Ballard.

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