Health Data Consortium Announces Inaugural Recipient of the George Thomas Post-Graduate Fellowship

Award will support work in cancer research that utilizes open health data

Washington, D.C. — September 15, 2014 — Health Data Consortium (HDC), a non-profit advocacy organization working to promote innovation in the U.S. health care system by leveraging open health data in collaboration with the Data Science Institute, announced Kevin Emmett, a doctoral student in the Physics Department at Columbia University, as the recipient of its George Thomas Post-Graduate Fellowship for the 2014-2015 academic year.
The HDC fellowship is named in honor of George Thomas, a pioneer in open data and linked data throughout the government who served as the chief architect of George’s legacy includes seminal contributions to the design, technical engineering and policy development that were critical to the early successes of Health Datapalooza, HDC’s annual conference, where the award was first announced this past June. The fellowship is awarded to the candidate who best represents the mission to advance data science in health care in the spirit of George Thomas. 
For this academic year, the fellowship will support Mr. Emmett’s doctoral work, which will utilize multiple Electronic Health Record (EHR) datasets, totaling over 100 million patients, to identify associations between rare Mendelian diseases and common cancers. Mendelian diseases are diseases controlled by a single genetic location, in contrast to cancer, which is a complex disease involving multiple genetic locations. By integrating these statistical associations with data on recurrent genomic alterations identified by large open data cancer sequencing projects, such as The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), the work seeks to uncover specific genetic alterations and pathways characterizing these diseases. The ultimate goal of the project is to establish a new scientific framework for the discovery genetic variation driving the onset of cancer by integrating genomic and large-scale health data, with the potential to improve the identification of new cancer treatments.
“Kevin’s work embodies the vision that George Thomas had for health data by using open data to advance health research and health care overall,” said HDC CEO Dwayne Spradlin.  “We are truly thrilled by the potential that this project has to further cancer research via data science and informatics.”
For more information about HDC’s George Thomas Post-Graduate Fellowship, please visit theHealth Data Consortium website

by Sara Zellner

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