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Data science training program lands AAMC education award

Sep. 12, 2019, 10:06 AM


by Bill Snyder

A course that provides biomedical scientists-in-training at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine with the essentials of data science has won second place in the 2019 Innovations in Research and Research Education Award program sponsored by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Data Science Essentials is a module of the Biomedical Research Education and Training (BRET) Office of Career Development’s ASPIRE Program. It was developed by Ashley Brady, PhD, Kim Petrie, PhD, and Kathy Gould, PhD, with support from a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Guidance for Trainees Award.

Launched in 2018, the module includes a didactic eight-week introduction to data science in partnership with the Nashville Software School, a nine-week section to build communication and networking skills, and a series of career case sessions led by professional data scientists and hosted on site at their organization. A second round of the module began last week.

“The demand for well-trained data scientists continues to expand as companies increasingly rely on the mining and interpretation of vast amounts of data to drive discovery and innovation,” Brady, Petrie and Gould wrote in their award abstract.

Mabel Seto

Brady is assistant dean of Biomedical Career Engagement and Strategic Partnerships in the BRET Office of Career Development. Petrie is assistant dean for Biomedical Career Development, and Gould is associate dean for Biomedical Sciences, director of Graduate Student Support and the Louise B. McGavock Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Graduate students Mabel Seto (Pharmacology) and Iliza Butera (Neuroscience) participated in the first module with 18 other PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.

“The module was extremely helpful in giving me insight into what data science is like as a career,” said Seto. “I’m definitely interested in pursuing it, and I don’t think I would have known that without taking the module.”

Iliza Butera

“This program really helped to reinforce my interest in data visualizations,” Butera added. “This will be particularly helpful as I transition from neuroscience to join a music tech company called Artiphon.

“My next goal is to find new ways to analyze and visualize music data so that players can see trends in their own playing style and skill development,” she said.

This is the second time in three years that a course developed through the BRET Office of Career Development has won an AAMC Innovations in Research Education Award. A previous module, “Management and Business Principles for Scientists,” won second place in 2016.

Developing innovative approaches to broaden graduate and postdoctoral training is a major focus of the BRET Office of Career Development. The ASPIRE program was launched in 2013 with a National Institutes of Health BEST Award.

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