February 22, 2011

Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics to Step Down at End of Current Academic Year

Daniel Masys, M.D., chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), announced his intention to step down as department chair at the end of the current academic year.

Masys has served since the 2004-2005 academic year as chair of the department, which was founded in 2001. Masys succeeded Randy Miller, M.D., who was the department’s inaugural chair.

“It has been a great joy and privilege to preside over the growth of what has become the largest academic department of its kind in the country, with 34 primary and 35 secondary faculty,” Masys said.

“We have truly world-class teams working in areas that span from computational biology, molecular bioinformatics, natural language processing, machine learning, data mining and data privacy, to clinical systems research and development and implementation science. The department’s graduate programs attract high quality students from all over the world who are destined to become tomorrow’s leaders in information science and technology related to human health and disease.

“Now is a good time to transition the administrative leadership of the department to colleagues who can build upon Vanderbilt’s tremendous momentum in informatics,” Masys said.

“Vanderbilt has benefited tremendously from Dr. Masys’ leadership in development of key research resources, such as the BioVU DNA databank and its associated data resources,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “He has also put his department on firm administrative footing and will leave behind a legacy of well-documented and transparent policies and procedures for future chairs.”

Masys came to Vanderbilt after 10 years on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and a decade in the intramural program of the National Institutes of Health, where he served as chief of the International Cancer Research Databank branch of the National Cancer Institute, and director of computer research and development for the National Library of Medicine.

Masys, along with DBMI faculty members Miller, Bill Stead, M.D., and Kevin Johnson, M.D., is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine. He is a fellow and past president of the American College of Medical Informatics and has received numerous awards, including the U.S. Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Medal.

Masys’ successor will be identified through a national search, which will commence immediately. Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, will chair the search committee.