A Letter from the Interim Chair

When Drs. Jeff Balser and Jennifer Pietenpol asked me to help with the chair transition by stepping in as interim between Kevin and Peter, it did not occur to me that doing so would give me both the opportunity and challenge of greeting you during this holiday season and new year. 
Here we are at the end of two very challenging years in our history. As I write to you, we are still just beginning to reel from the nation's longest and most deadly tornado in history, while navigating the uncertainty around the next wave in this seemingly endless and frustrating pandemic, a general sense of being overwhelmed all the time, and the social and political divisions all around us.
But mixed in with all the tragedy and difficulty, we have also seen great progress and opportunity, especially in our scientific field. For example, world events have given new importance to the solutions we have brought to bear on the disparities in how we serve our community. While there is certainly lots of work left to do in the space, it is heartening to see the progress we are making addressing bias in AI, reducing barriers to technology access that include limited Internet availability, and enabling new technologies like telehealth. As a department, we have also established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee that has been doing great work! We have come together as well to create important new resources for discovery and research, such as the daily RD that has allowed us to track and learn from our own Covid cases.
I have shared with you in these past weeks that I love autumn as a season of transition. I find autumn to be emblematic of the transitions we are living through now. As I write to you (using voice to text while walking through Percy Warner Park), I am surrounded by evidence of transition. The leaves have fallen and flocks of birds are scavenging in the trees as they head south. The winter solstice is just a few days away, after which the days will begin to get longer but colder.
As part of our transition, I’ve kept communications with Kevin and Peter as I try to help bridge this transition in our lives. Indeed, I just got off the phone with Peter; we discussed all the exciting departmental news such as your promotions, appointments, re-appointments, retirements, and collaborations that we’ve been working on, as well as some of the funded projects that are in the pipeline, and also Peter Jackson’s "The Beatles: Get Back" documentary on Disney+. 
I hope all of you have been able to find some joy and personal time to celebrate your own accomplishments big and small, both during the past year and in this season. I hope you will have the opportunity to celebrate those things that are important as we enjoy a hopefully quiet holiday season and transition to the new year. I hope y’all are as inspired by you, as I have been. I will be around for most of the break should you need anything, although my wife and I may take a night or two in a small traditional bed and breakfast, and I plan to keep up my holiday tradition of watching the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with my oldest daughter.
I wish you a merry Christmas if you celebrate, Happy Kwanzaa if you observe, and great feats of strength for Festivus. For those who celebrate Hanukkah, I hope it was bright and filled with fried foods.
— Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA

Table of Contents

  1. Department News & Announcements
  2. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  3. Faculty News
  4. Educational Updates
  5. DBMI Spotlight: Teresa Gillespie
  6. MyVUMC
  7. Funding Opporunities 
  8. HR Updates
  9. Open Positions + Upcoming Events

Department News & Announcements

Call for Submissions: DBMI Seminars, 2022

We are currently coordinating speakers for next year's seminars. If you have any recommendations for speakers who might be interested in presenting, and the possible topic they may present, please share their contact info by emailing Mia Garchitorena at mia.garchitorena@vumc.org

Call for Submissions: Research Colloquium Presentations, 2022

Thanks to everyone for your participation and support of the Research Colloquium this fall. The Research Colloquium will resume on January 13, 2022.
If you have research projects in process or research topics that you’d like to discuss and are interested in presenting at the colloquium, please email Rischelle Jenkins for available dates. We look forward to your continued support in the spring. — Kim M. Unertl, PhD, MS, FACMI

Kelly Aldrich Featured on News Channel 5 for CDC Work in Collecting Data for PPE Inventory Monitoring System

A study at Vanderbilt University's School of Nursing is looking at how hospitals use their on-hand personal protective equipment (PPE). Researchers believe it could help prevent another PPE shortage.

"Automating that information can allow for the right questions to be asked about supply chain... in order to route maybe some of the supplies coming into the country or being made and get that to the right people," said Kelly Aldrich, DNP, MS, Associate Professor in the Vanderbilt School of Nursing and DBMI, who was tapped by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the nation's PPE supply.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages at hospitals put health care providers and patients at risk of exposure. "It is alarming, but what we're trying to do is find the good in the patterns of the data so they can be informed," Dr. Aldrich said about her team's research.

With graduate students from the VU Data Science Institute, Dr. Aldrich is studying how having an automated trust platform from within different health systems and automation of reporting on supply chain quantities of PPE can support protection of the clinical front line teams. Click here for the story.

Final Summary Report for 25x5 Initiative to Reduce Documentation Burden by 75% is Now Available!

Reducing documentation burden on U.S. clinicians is an urgent priority within the health care community, and leaders around the field continue to collaborate on this effort since the conclusion of the 25x5 Symposium, held over six weeks in early 2021 to set the foundation for those efforts. The 25x5 Symposium was developed to establish strategies and approaches to reduce clinician documentation burden on U.S. clinicians by 75% by 2025.

Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC) Seminar:

"Beyond Telehealth: Advances in Digital Mental Health Research and Practical Clinical Considerations for Smartphone Apps in Care" 

— January 12, 2022

VCLIC is excited to announce our January seminar speaker: John Torous, MD, MBI, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Torous will speak about his work in the digital psychiatric space. Click here for more information and join via Zoom.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

December is Universal Human Rights Month

Universal Human Rights Month is a time for people in the U.S. and around the world to join together and stand up for the rights and dignity of all individuals.
December 10, Human Rights Day, is a global holiday that marks the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. Each year, Human Rights Day has a different theme. Last year, the focus was on young people and how you're never too young to make a difference to the world. In 2021, Human Rights Day focused on how rights are the beginning of peace within societies, and a way to create a fairer society for future generations. Read more about Human Rights Day on the United Nations site here
For more events related to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, visit the VUMC December EDI Slide here and see more DEI events of interest below: 
  • Department of Medicine (DOM) Grand Rounds, Featuring Diversity Liaison Committee Guest Lecturer - “American Medicine and our Racist Traditions": This Thursday, December 16, the DOM and DOM Diversity Liaison Committee will host a Medicine Grand Rounds at 8:00 am CT via Zoom. Click here for more info.
    • Speaker: Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH, Adjunct Associate Professor, Divisions of Health Policy & Administration and Occupational & Environmental Health, University of Illinois School of Public Health
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Listening Sessions to Inform Efforts on Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity (Dec 2021 – Feb 2022): The NIH launched the NIH launched the UNITE initiative in March of 2021 to address structural race and ethnicity-based discrimination in NIH-supported entities and the greater scientific community. As part of this initiative, NIH is holding a series of listening sessions to learn from external stakeholders about the full range of issues and challenges in advancing racial and ethnic equity in the biomedical research enterprise. The insights shared during these listening sessions will help to identify priorities for UNITE and inform the development of an NIH action plan. Click here to register.

Faculty News

Jessica Ancker Named Holder of the Randolph A. Miller Directorship in Biomedical Informatics Education

Ten leaders from across the VUMC enterprise in clinical care, research, education and administration have been named as holders of endowed directorships. Congratulations to Jessica Ancker, PhD, MPH, FACMI, Vice Chair for Educational Affairs and Professor of Biomedical Informatics, on being named the holder of the Randolph A. Miller Directorship in Biomedical Informatics Education! A Directorship Celebration will be held next year to honor these new directorship holders as well as those who were announced in March 2022.
Those previously featured holders in DBMI are Daniel Fabbri, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI and Computer Science; and Adam Wright, PhD, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, Director of the Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC) and Professor in DBMI. 

Cathy Ivory Appointed to National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Cathy Ivory, PhD, RN-BC, RNC-OB, NEA-BC, Senior Director of Nursing Research for VUMC and Associate Professor in DBMI, was appointed to the National Advisory Council for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Dr. Ivory is one of seven new members to be appointed to the 20-member panel, and her term will last two years. The AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has a mission “to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.” Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter

Trent Rosenbloom Comments on 21st Century Cures Act, Patients Value Immediate Online Access to Test Results 

Trent Rosenbloom, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, Interim Chair, Vice Chair of Faculty Affairs and Professor in DBMI; and Director of My Health at Vanderbilt, was featured in the VUMC Reporter to discuss a survey that showed that VUMC patients are overwhelmingly in favor of having immediate electronic access to their clinical test results.
Research fellow Bryan Steitz, PhD; Research Assistant Professor Lina Sulieman, PhD; Director of VCLIC and Professor of DBMI Adam Wright, PhD, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI; and former DBMI'er Robert Turer, MD, MSE, MSACI, were also featured in the story. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter

Dan Roden Named One of the Most Highly Cited Researchers

Six current faculty members at VUMC have made this year’s list of scientists whose papers have been cited most frequently by other researchers. They are among 6,600 researchers around the world identified by the global analytics firm Clarivate whose publications rank in the top 1% by citations for field of research and publication year in the Web of Science citation index. 
Dan Roden, MD, the Sam L. Clark, MD, PhD Chair, Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Biomedical Informatics, Senior Vice President for Personalized Medicine, and a leader in pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine, made the list of one of the most highly cited researchers. This is the third year in a row that he has made the list. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter

Douglas Ruderfer Published Study Examining Genetic Risk for Suicide Attempt

Suicide attempt most often occurs in individuals diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. A new study reported in Biological Psychiatry identified the first replicated genomic region contributing to risk of suicide attempt and confirms that genetic risk for the trait is not driven solely by risk for psychiatric disorders. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter

Educational Updates

REMINDER: Applications for the Vanderbilt MS/PhD Program in Biomedical Informatics are due January 15, 2022

If you, a friend or colleague is interested in learning more about our program, visit here and contact Rischelle Jenkins at rischelle.jenkins@vanderbilt.edu

REMINDER: Applications for the Vanderbilt Biomedical Informatics Summer Program (VBISP) are due February 15, 2022

The application deadline is February 15, 2022. Find the application link here: http://is.gd/DBMISummerApplication
If you, a friend or colleague is interested in learning more about the summer program, visit here and contact Rischelle Jenkins at rischelle.jenkins@vanderbilt.edu

Chao Yan Received Certification of Appreciation for his Service on JAMIA Student Editorial Board

Congratulations to Chao Yan, MS, for receiving this honor from the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA)! He is defending his dissertation in computer science in December and plans to join DBMI as a postdoc in early 2022. Follow him on Twitter here

DBMI Spotlight: Teresa Gillespie

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!  
Forty-six and a half years ago, Teresa Gillespie started her career at Vanderbilt University. And on December 31, 2021, she will be starting her next journey: Retirement!
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to join the DBMI and have enjoyed my experience here,” says Teresa. “I am fortunate for the friendships I’ve made with so many over the years, and to have worked with amazing teams and groups of people and to have learned from the best along the way.”  

Teresa is a Nashville native and no stranger to Vanderbilt University, where she was born! 
Growing up, she loved music and enjoyed studying English and math in school. She later received her Bachelor of Science in Business Education and Office Management from Middle Tennessee State University.
In 1973, during her sophomore year of college, Teresa met her future husband, Ron, after being introduced to him through a friend. Pictured right: Teresa and Ron with their daughter, Kim.
She shares this sweet story of how he proposed: “He presented me with an engagement ring at a Christmas party we had. It was the prize in the little package inside a Cracker Jack box that he and his dad meticulously opened and resealed. I had no clue!”
After graduating college, there were many career paths Teresa could have taken, including becoming a social worker or a high school teacher. However, she decided to be patient and wait for the right opportunity to present itself. Regarding social work, “I realized that it would be a difficult and emotional path to take,” Teresa explains. She also made the choice to forego a teaching position in Atlanta as she was “not ready to make that jump.”
Instead, she applied to several positions at Vanderbilt University, and she received offers for various positions. She began her career working in the Office of the Provost in 1975 and stayed for 28 years. She then worked in the Office of the Dean at Peabody College before joining DBMI in 2006.
She will always appreciate the opportunity to have worked with former DBMI Chair, Kevin Johnson, MD, MS, FAAP, FAMIA, FACMI, FIAHSI.
“It has been a pleasure working in the DBMI and I can’t thank Kevin enough for his direction, [especially] as the new kid on the block,” she says. “His leadership, vision, generous and witty nature will stay with us all, inside and outside of VUMC.”
She has many fond memories from her career at Vanderbilt, including the very first Vanderbilt University graduation ceremony on the Alumni Lawn. “It reminded me of my own graduation a couple of months earlier,” Teresa explains.
She continues: “As to be expected, I’ve seen a lot of changes University-wide (Chancellor and Provost leadership), the separation and transition between VU and VUMC, the different technological upgrades in systems and processes…all of which are signs of, as the song goes, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’.” 
As she looks forward to retirement, she is excited to spend quality time with her husband and support his passion for restoring cars. “He is currently restoring a Dodge Dart (which is how I learned to drive a stick shift and stalled it on a railroad track with a train in sight!) and a Dodge Coronet Super Bee,” Teresa says.
She’s also looking forward to spending time with her grandson, a “rising karate star,” and her two granddaughters. “The eldest is interested in piano and has learned to play a couple of tunes my Mother taught me on the antique 80+-year-old 'player' piano that I was lucky to inherit from my grandparents.”
Pictured left: Teresa's grandparents' piano.
Finally, she’s excited to pursue her own passion projects, including baking, bowling, volunteer work with children, and (her favorite activity) needlepoint:
“There used to be a Burger King on West End Avenue within walking distance across from the main entrance to the Vanderbilt University Campus and Kirkland Hall. I would go there for lunch and take my needlepoint with me and always sit in the same place. I became a regular customer and the folks at BK would stop by to see what I was working on!” Pictured below: Teresa's needlepoint creations!
Teresa shares these words with DBMI before she departs: “Thanks to everyone for their kindness. I wish the department and one and all continued success. Best wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season and Happy New Year!"
Thank you for all you did for us, Teresa!! Happy Retirement!

VUMC Continues to See Critical Blood Shortages — DONATE

Due to the pandemic and the busyness of the holidays there is a critical shortage of blood and blood products. The American Red Cross reports that individual donations and blood drives held by businesses and organizations are down drastically
In addition, the ongoing national blood shortage has serious implications for young cancer patients, says Dan Benedetti, MD, MA, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 
To help, VUMC employees and the surrounding community can donate blood at one of the twice-weekly American Red Cross blood drives across several different VUMC locations. Click to read more in the VUMC Reporter and to see upcoming dates and times for Red Cross blood drives on the main VUMC campus. 

Nominations Open for Elevate Team Award, Five Pillar Leader Award and Credo Award —  Deadline Due December 28

Elevate award nominations are always accepted. If a nomination is received after the cut off for quarterly award selection, the nomination will be considered for the next quarter. The next deadline is Dec. 28 for the February Leadership Assembly presentation. Read more here.

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.
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

HR Updates

Mindful Stretch Breaks Now Offered Weekly!

Join Health Plus on Zoom every Wednesday between 11-11:30 am for stretching and breathing to refresh your body and mind. 
Register now! You can also schedule a Mindful Stretch Break at a time that works best for your group!

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 mia.garchitorena@vumc.org.

Upcoming Events

Visit here for more details on the upcoming DBMI webinars and research colloquiums in January 2022.
Suggestions? Email dbmicomms@vumc.org.