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VUMC’s Denny lands award from informatics group

Nov. 8, 2012, 11:23 AM

Joshua Denny, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine and a key contributor to Vanderbilt University’s personalized medicine initiative, is the 2012 recipient of the New Investigator Award from the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

Joshua Denny, M.D., M.S.

The award, which recognizes “early informatics contributions and significant scholarly contributions” to the field, was presented to Denny Nov. 3 during the AMIA’s 2012 Annual Symposium in Chicago.

Denny helped develop BioVU, which, with more than 150,000 unique genetic samples, is the world’s largest DNA databank linked to searchable, de-identdeified electronic health information.

“Every life tells a story,” Denny said. “Part of our job in informatics is to unravel the story within the electronic medical record (EMR), and then to use that to discover new biology through linking it to BioVU,” he said. “The wealth of data in the Vanderbilt EMR and BioVU are extraordinary platforms to advance health care.”

Denny, who received his bachelor’s, medical and master’s degrees at Vanderbilt, joined the faculty in 2007. Since 2003, he has contributed to 75 scientific articles on the applications of informatics to diseases as diverse as rheumatoid arthritis and colorectal cancer.

He also helped develop another major part of Vanderbilt’s personalized medicine initiative: PREDICT, a clinical decision-support program that screens patients for genetic variations affecting their response to medications.

PREDICT helps physicians choose drugs that are most likely to work for their patients and which are least likely to cause severe side effects.

“Josh’s success exemplifies the adage, ‘Chance favors the prepared mind,’” said Kevin Johnson, M.D., Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics. “Josh has the unique ability to master sophisticated computational techniques and to apply them to a variety of information/data challenges, which is only possible because of his breadth of experience and knowledge.”

Denny is the second Vanderbilt faculty member to receive the AMIA’s New Investigator Award, which was established in 2005. S. Trent Rosenbloom, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics, Medicine and Pediatrics, received it in 2009.

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