DBMI Retreat Update — Save the Date: August 31 & September 1

Happy July, DBMI!  
As we look forward to the fall, the DBMI Annual Retreat Planning Committee has been hard at work putting together an exciting program to kick off the academic year. After some “agile” scheduling, we have set dates for the retreat for Tuesday, August 31st from 8:00 am-1:00 pm and Wednesday, September 1st from 1:30 pm-5:00 pm. The retreat will be a HYBRID event with the option to attend in-person or virtually.
The goals for this year’s retreat are threefold:
  1. Highlight some of the great work people in DBMI are doing.
  2. Team-build with some informatics-themed activities.
  3. Contemplate Dr. Kevin Johnson’s legacy as Chair and our future as a department.
We also want to give many of you the chance to share your research, so we encourage you to think about what you might want to share in a short presentation to the department. Besides scientific presentations, we are planning to have a keynote, a scavenger hunt and a trivia competition. It will be the best hybrid retreat our department has ever held! Hope to see you there (on-campus or on Zoom).
Stay tuned for more details! If you have any questions, please reach out to Alex Cheng, PhD, by emailing him at a.cheng@vumc.org.
 The DBMI Annual Retreat Planning Committee

Table of Contents

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

Department News & Announcements

Return to Work Update

As a reminder, our offices are open for Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and VU faculty, staff and students* who wish to work in-person. We will work under a hybrid model for the time being as no one is required to return to the office at this time. *In compliance with VU COVID testing requirements.
Return to work discussions are ongoing. More details to come. If you have any questions, please reach out to Coda Davison at coda.davison@vumc.org

2020-21 VCLIC Annual Report — Available Now!

The Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center (VCLIC) published its first Annual Report for 2020-21. Click to read the report here
Read a welcome letter from VCLIC's Director, Adam Wright, PhD, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, below!

"It's been a great first year for the Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center. Vanderbilt has a long and proud history of innovation in clinical informatics. We started VCLIC to help Vanderbilt continue this legacy in the new era of a commercial electronic health record (EHR). Throughout this report, you'll see many of the programs that VCLIC carried out this year, but the real heart of VCLIC is our community. Our members include physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and informaticians interested in both research and operational aspects of clinical informatics.
Nearly every clinical department, discipline, and level of training at VUMC is covered in our ranks. Together, we've been able to pave the road for clinical informatics innovation at Vanderbilt, and we have already seen payoffs in care quality, safety, and EHR usability. Our members have also produced academically, earning grants, publishing papers, and presenting at major informatics and clinical conferences.
I'm proud to lead VCLIC and to work with our members, and I can't wait to see what we can accomplish in our second year together!" — Dr. Adam Wright, Director of VCLIC and Professor of Biomedical Informatics 

DBMI Celebrated Pride Month

Sarah Bland, MPH, MBA

Sarah Bland, Senior Project Manager in the Center for Precision Medicine, shared her background, what Pride Month means to her & how biomedical informatics can improve disparities in health care. 

October 30 – November 3, 2021

As a reminder, AMIA 2021 will convene in-person in San Diego this year. AMIA will also offer a live streaming track to enable virtual attendance. Registration is open. See here for more info
Below are some other AMIA news: 
  • AMIA 2021 Seeking Late-Breaking Submissions for: 1) Informatics response to COVID-19; 2) DEI and the role of informatics and 3) Organizational and informatics workforce transformation. Submissions due July 27. See here for more info
  • Have you used FHIR app technology to help implement EHRs in your organization? Submit your app to the AMIA 2021 FHIR App Competition. Deadline: August 2. See here for more info
  • Apply to the AMIA Health Informatics Certification and stay informed of emerging practices in informatics. Check your eligibility and apply to AHIC today. Deadline: September 20. See here for more info.

Discovery Lecture: "CRISPR: The Science and Opportunity of Genome Editing" featuring Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD — July 22

The upcoming Vanderbilt Prize in Biomedical Science Discovery Lecture will feature Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD, Nobel Laureate, Founder and President of the Innovative Genomics Institute, Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair and Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. The lecture will be on Thursday, July 22 at 2:35 pm via Zoom. Register here: https://bit.ly/3xb2b8s.

Living Through "Going Live" — Watch Now!

Dr. Johnson recently posted a video covering the 18-month chronology of the "Epic Go-Live" experience. Watch below!

Faculty News

Jonathan Mosley & Colleagues Published Study on Gene Variant Linked to Unnecessary Bone Marrow Biopsies in African Americans

A gene variant that lowers white blood cell levels and is common in individuals with African ancestry contributes to unnecessary bone marrow biopsies, according to a study published June 28 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings from three institutions, led by investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, provide an example of how using genetic data could reduce a health disparity. 

“We’ve essentially created this racial health disparity by not fully considering how genetic variation affects white blood cell levels,” said Jonathan Mosley, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at VUMC. “Our study supports genotyping African Americans before performing a bone marrow biopsy for the indication of isolated low white blood cell counts.” 
VUMC investigators participating in the study also included Lisa Bastarache, MSMingjian Shi, MD, PhD; and Dan Roden, MD. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (GM130791, GM131770, HG006830). Read more in the VUMC Reporter here

Center for Precision Medicine Team & Other VUMC Colleagues Publish Case Study on Genetic Matchmaking in the EHR

What does it mean when whole exome sequencing reveals a gene of uncertain significance? Sometimes the answer can be found in your own EHR. 
Josh Peterson, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, Lisa Bastarache, Leigh Anne Tang and researchers from the Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine at VUMC published a study titled "One is the Loneliest Number: Genotypic Matchmaking Using the Electronic Health Record". The study was published in Genetics in Medicine. Read more here.

Wei-Qi Wei & DBMI Colleagues Published Perspective on Machine Learning Challenges in Pharmacogenomic Research

Wei-Qi Wei, MD, PhD, FAMIA, Assistant Professor in DBMI, published a perspective titled "Machine Learning Challenges in Pharmacogenomic Research" in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
The co-authors include Juan Zhao, PhD and Drs. Roden and Peterson. Read more here.

DBMI Welcomes New Faculty Member, Thomas Reese

Thomas Reese, PharmD, PhD, recently joined DBMI as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Reese was a fellow in the National Cancer Institute's Multilevel Intervention Training Institute and trained on the National Library of Medicine T15 grant. He will play an active role at the intersection of clinical informatics and Implementation Science through VCLIC and CIPHI. Dr. Reese holds a PharmD from the University of Montana and PhD in Biomedical Informatics from the University of Utah. He is a board-certified ambulatory care pharmacist. 
He is missing the mountains, so be sure to give him a warm welcome by emailing him at thomas.reese@vumc.org! 

Educational Updates

DBMI Welcomes Fall 2021 MSACI Students 

The leaders of the Masters in Applied Clinical Informatics (MSACI) Program are pleased to welcome its newest class of students! Pictured below (from left to right, top to bottom) are: 
Anirban Bhattacharyya, MD, MPHZhengfeng (Jason) Chen, MDCasey Distaso, MDHolly Ende, MDPeter (Beau) Mack, MD; and Edward (Eddie) Qian, MD. Welcome!

Vanderbilt Biomedical Informatics Summer Program (VBISP) — Read More Student Profiles!

The Vanderbilt Biomedical Informatics Summer Program (VBISP) welcomed its 14th group of summer interns on June 1, 2021. This year’s group includes 14 students from a variety of backgrounds. In a special edition of the DBMI Digest, we are sharing brief profiles of each student throughout the entirety of their internship. 
Last month, we featured Evelyn KriterStuart Waller and Kyla Gabriel. Read their profiles here, in case you missed them. This month, we featured Abinitha Gourabathina, Cody Johnson and Clara Gimenez. Read their stories here!

VBISP Group Design Challenge Final Presentations – July 30

Groups of students will be presenting their solution for the 2021 VBISP Design Challenge: Technology to Enhance Vaccine Literacy.
Throughout the summer, the students will be working in groups to identify ways to improve vaccine literacy, empower individuals and families to make informed decisions on vaccines and/or augment and complement public health recommendations. In this session, the groups will present their work to an expert feedback panel and others in DBMI. The final presentations will take place on Friday, July 30 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm CT.

VBISP Student Presentations – August 3-5

Each student will present their research project to attendees from DBMI and beyond, providing an overview of the research they’ve been working on with DBMI faculty this summer. Presentation titles and a list of presenters for each day will be sent out the week before these sessions. 

The student presentations will take place from Tuesday, August 3 to Thursday, August 5 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm CT. Email Rischelle Jenkins, Program Manager, at rischelle.jenkins@vanderbilt.edu if you have questions.

Congratulations to VUMC-IBM Interns for Accepted Posters!

Congratulations to the Spring 2021 VUMC-IBM Interns Zhoujun (Holly) Sun (pictured below, left) and Brian Yoon (pictured below, right) on having posters accepted to conferences!
Holly, who graduated from VU in May and is headed to graduate school at Georgia Tech, worked with Shilo Anders, PhD, and Rubina Rizvi, MD, PhD, and had her poster (titled "Extraction of Ambiguous Phrases Found Within Adverse Drug Event Mentions Using an Artificial Intelligence Annotation Tool") accepted to the AMIA Annual Symposium.
Brian, who is a rising junior at VU, worked with Travis Osterman, DO, MS, FAMIA, and Dilhan Weeraratne, PhD, and had a poster accepted to the ASCO Quality Care Symposium.
Congratulations to both students and to their VUMC and IBM mentors on this great accomplishment! 

DBMI Spotlight: Melissa McPheeters

Each month, we will feature one member 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!  
Melissa McPheeters, PhD, MPH, Research Professor in Health Policy and Co-Director of the Center for Improving the Public's Health Through Informatics (CIPHI), has been an incredible resource to VUMC, the Department of Biomedical Informatics since she joined CIPHI in 2019, as well in the field of epidemiology and public health.
In August, she will rejoin the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition, as a Senior Scientist in the Division of Translational Health Sciences. This division includes RTI’s Health Informatics and Communication Sciences centers, as well as the Evidence-based Practice Center, where she started her research career more than 25 years ago. Dr. McPheeters's new role will combine research with business development, strategy, team building and mentoring. She will also continue some of the work she started at VUMC at RTI.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at DBMI, and I cannot imagine a better group of people to work with in terms of the incredible scholarship and teamwork,” Dr. McPheeters says. “DBMI is so unique in its multidisciplinary and collaborative tenor. It would be incredibly difficult to duplicate that. I’m going to miss everyone!”
Dr. McPheeters’s career at VUMC began in June 2007, when she joined as the Deputy Director of Women’s Health Research. From there, she worked as the Director of Vanderbilt’s Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), Director of the Epidemiology Track in the Master’s of Public Health program within the Department of Health Policy, Director of the Center for Population Health Sciences and Research Professor. From May 2016 to June 2019, she worked as an assistant commissioner and Director of Informatics and Public Health Analytics at the Tennessee Department of Health before joining CIPHI. She received her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked in the public and private sectors, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in contract research.

"The EPC thrived under her leadership during her first tenure at VUMC, and since she has re-joined VUMC, her work on the Maximizing Access to Genomic Information and Counseling (MAGIC) initiative in coordinating a rich tapestry of precision medicine projects at VUMC has been very exciting,” says Michael Matheny, MD, MS, MPH, FACMI, Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics, Medicine and Biostatistics and Co-Director of CIPHI. "Her insights on important issues facing public health informatics and some of the challenges the state health departments are facing was critical for helping set the agenda for the Center moving forward."

"She’s been a force behind our EPC years ago, and most recently has worked with Bill, Travis, Asli and others to create and manage a new clinical genomics pipeline that promises to help us do what we’ve done with PREDICT across a much larger array of clinical specialties, with much more innovation in informatics being proposed to create this pipeline," says Kevin Johnson, MD, MS, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and Chair of DBMI, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Informatician-in-Chief at VUMC. "However, Melissa also is an epidemiologist at heart who loves being a part of the on-the-ground field work to discover challenges and to use informatics in pragmatic ways and was a critical part of our COVID-19 response throughout VUMC because of that passion.”

During her time as Co-Director of CIPHI, she worked closely with Dr. Matheny on building up the capacity and mentoring of the Center. "She has such strong expertise in building new programs and bringing multiple stakeholders and perspectives together to work on solving a problem,” Dr. Matheny says.

“I will miss my colleagues and the outstanding students at VUMC, but I am excited about this return to my research roots, and I’m hoping for many opportunities to collaborate with the folks at VUMC,” Dr. McPheeters says. “I am always an email, text or phone call away!”

Thank you, Dr. McPheeters, for all you did for DBMI! We will miss you!

VUMC Requiring the COVID-19 Vaccine for Those in Leadership Roles

Effective immediately, all individuals in positions of leadership at VUMC who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be contacted (through VUMC email) by Occupational Health and required to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment unless granted a medical or religious exemption. Just as for flu vaccinations, a committee will review and consider exemption requests. Please note that working remotely or job duties outside of patient care are not considered reasons for exemption. 
Those notified will be provided detailed information on how to comply. Full vaccination is accomplished by receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Leaders notified by Occupational Health will be required to obtain the first dose of an approved vaccine or apply for an exemption by August 15, 2021, and to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption by September 15, 2021. Click here for more information.  

Reminder: Occupational Health Offering Walk-In COVID Vaccinations

The Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) is offering COVID-19 vaccines to employees on a walk-in basis. Employees no longer need to schedule an appointment for their COVID-19 vaccine. Employees who need their first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine may walk-in to the OHC vaccine location on the 6th floor of the Medical Arts Building. 
To receive a COVID vaccine at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital, Vanderbilt Bedford County Hospital, or Vanderbilt Tullahoma Harton Hospital, please reach out to your respective Occupational Health resource at your location. Read here for more information on walk-in COVID-19 vaccination availabilities in the OHC.

VUMC Masking Guidance & "Vaccinated" ID Badge Stickers

Recently, VUMC released new COVID-19 guidance and the announcement that the Occupational Health Clinic began distributing "Vaccinated" ID badge stickers to workforce members. There is additional information about both topics. See here for more information

Reminder: VUMC ID Badges are REQUIRED for On-Campus Access, Beneficial to Safety

Design best-practices suggest a large font size for easy readability both on desktop and mobile devices. See here for more information

Tell Your Story at StrategyShare2021 — Apply by July 30

StrategyShare is VUMC’s annual showcase to connect all of us around the exciting and innovative work you do to advance our mission. StrategyShare 2021 will be held October 6-8, and we want to include stories about how your work reflects the VUMC Strategic Directions: Design for patients and families; making diversity and inclusion intentional; and discover, learn, and share.
The StrategyShare team is interested in stories from a wide assortment of situations and people – from any person in any job and any background. You can share your own story or one you know from elsewhere at VUMC. Click here to read moreSubmit your story here by Friday, July 30https://redcap.vanderbilt.edu/surveys/?s=84JKPXDXWFEANDED.

Funding Opportunities

Catalyzing Informatics Innovation (CI2) Program — Apply by July 23
The DBMI Catalyzing Informatics Innovation (CI2) Program supports the development of creative, feasible informatics-based ideas that have the potential to improve health, healthcare, or discovery. CI2 Program awardees receive not only modest funding to pursue their proposed project, but also join a cohort of CI2 Scholars who work closely with faculty and VUMC leadership. Cohorts learn about using real-world data and evidence to advance innovation, evaluate methods and impact change. CI2 awardees work closely with their mentor and the CI2 Advisors to ensure that their project is moving forward and leading to publications and extramural funding, as appropriate.
Application for the CI2 Program for 2021-2022 are due by July 23, 2021. See the CI2 Application and Selection Information page here.
Contact Daniel Fabbri, PhD, FAMIA, Director of Informatics Innovation, at daniel.fabbri@vumc.org and copy Barbara Payne, Lead Administrative Assistant, at barbara.payne@vumc.org if you have questions.
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

Annual Discussion, 2021

VUMC launched its annual performance evaluation process for the fiscal year 2021 cycle on June 22. For this cycle, the following items remain the same as last year:
  • Overall structure of the performance evaluation process. Leaders will still evaluate their staff based upon Credo, goals and elements of performance.
  • Simplified evaluation form. The performance evaluation will use the simplified evaluation form provided last year. If you recall, the form has fewer ratings and text box requirements. This allows for a more focused conversation about success and areas of improvement for the entire fiscal year. 
  • Self-evaluations. The self-evaluation step is not required for non-nursing staff. Staff can prepare for a conversation with their direct manager and will have the opportunity to add comments, if they choose to do so.
All staff hired before April 1, 2021 and those whose end-of-orientation falls between April 1 and June 22 will proceed with the evaluation process and this should be completed and submitted to HR by Aug. 31. Leaders should use the end of orientation review for any staff hired after April 1. This is for both exempt (salaried) and non-exempt (hourly) staff. 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 not already done so, please schedule a conversation with your supervisor for your annual evaluation. If you have questions or need detailed evaluation instructions, please contact Elizabeth Brown and Belinda Ballard.

Work-From-Home Staff Parking Update

VUMC Parking and Transportation introduced limited options for single day parking permits. As a reminder, there is no option to pause the monthly parking fees. The only option would be to cancel parking and re-enroll at a later date if desired. The daily hangtags may be a solution for employees who plan to infrequently work on-site. Below is a summary of the information. 
  • Employees can purchase Single Day Hangtags for the South Garage (Roof Level)
  • No single day options for the Kensington Garage or N lot.
  • Hangtags are limited to five per month and cost $5 each.
  • Hangtags must be purchased in the Permit Office.
  • For more info https://www.vumc.org/med-center-parking/single-day-hangtags or call the Parking and Transportation Office 615-936-1215.
NOTE about Kensington Parking: If you would like to cancel Kensington (only) parking, please contact Barbara Payne, Lead Administrative Assistant, at barbara.payne@vumc.org and she will fill out your form to take to the parking office.

Chill Out With Free Ice Cream Friday — July 30

Take time to “chill out” with free ice cream and frozen treats Friday, July 30, during VUMC Chill Out, the annual Employee Celebration event.
On-campus locations: Walk up to staffed coolers and take your pick!
  • 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks
  • 11:00 am – 5:00 pm: Medical Center Plaza
Employees at Vanderbilt Wilson County, Vanderbilt Tullahoma-Harton and Vanderbilt Bedford hospitals should check with your local HR teams for locations and distribution hours. Click here to read more.

Kevin's Korner

"Genome-informed Care Decisions: Welcome to Cutting-edge Medicine" — Listen Now!

The lastest episode of Dr. Johnson's podcast "Informatics in the Round" tackles how medicine, informatics, ethics and genomics can revolutionize care in a way non-medical people would understand! 
Dr. Johnson is joined by Sarah Bland, MPH, MBA, leading project manager in DBMI; Melissa McPheeters, PhD, MPH; Travis Osterman, DO, MS, FAMIA; and Gaelyn Garrett, MD, MMHC, Senior Executive Medical Director of the Vanderbilt Voice Center, Guy M. Maness Chair, Laryngology and Voice, and Professor of Otolaryngology. Listen here!

Kevin Johnson, Consuelo Wilkins & Colleagues Address TechQuity in JAMIA Paper

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, and Dr. Johnson were co-authors on a perspective paper on TechQuity. The paper was published in JAMIA on June 22. Click to read more

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