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Levy named to new VICC informatics leadership role

Nov. 19, 2015, 9:26 AM

Mia Levy, M.D., Ph.D., Ingram Assistant Professor of Cancer Research and director of Cancer Clinical Informatics at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), has been named director of Cancer Health Information and Strategy, a new management post that will expand her leadership role.

Mia Levy, M.D., Ph.D.

In this newly created role, Levy will conceptualize and supervise the development of new informatics tools to support the next generation of precision cancer medicine, data analytics and cancer care coordination.

“What we want to do is create a culture of data fluency within the organization so that we are able to create and consume data in intelligent ways to support our operations and quality initiatives and deliver the best possible care to our patients,” said Levy, who is also assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine.

“Mia Levy has exhibited tactical foresight regarding the challenges and opportunities in this new era of big data and has already developed strategies that are important for quality improvement,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and director of VICC. “With Mia in her new role, VICC will be able to accelerate the collection of data and streamline its use as a learning tool for better patient care.”

Levy said that Vanderbilt already collects a vast amount of information during the normal course of patient care. Accessing and understanding the data, which is protected under federal privacy rules, is essential for physicians and other specialists as they devise the best treatment strategies for patients.

Some of the data is in narrative form which makes it hard to extract. Other information, while highly structured such as billing codes, may be non-specific. Levy hopes to build a system that “leverages multiple data sources both within and outside the organization, including the electronic health record and other data sharing initiatives, to help Vanderbilt become more agile in navigating the rapid changes in health care delivery.”

Kevin Johnson, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics, said Levy has already demonstrated a clear ability to design new systems, including her work as co-developer of My Cancer Genome, an online medical decision support tool for cancer care. My Cancer Genome, which is hosted online by VICC, is a personalized cancer medicine knowledge resource for physicians, patients, caregivers and researchers. Users can select a cancer diagnosis and click on links that provide up-to-date information on what mutations make cancers grow as well as related therapeutic implications.

“Mia Levy is an influential and knowledgeable physician/scientist and one of the rare oncologists with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Informatics. In this new leadership role she will utilize her knowledge of disciplines to create new systems that will enable us to collect, organize and enrich data in more valuable ways,” Johnson said.

Levy noted that she is one of many leaders at Vanderbilt with a vision about the strategic use of information.

“The best news is that many of my colleagues here at Vanderbilt are moving in the same direction, developing informatics infrastructure and advanced algorithms for data extraction and visualization. Culturally, Vanderbilt is really on the forefront of being able to execute on a learning system in a way that I have not seen at other institutions,” Levy said.

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