Tech & Health

September 16, 2021

Indiana University’s Embí named chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics

Peter Embí, MD, MS, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Regenstrief Institute Inc., and professor of Medicine and Biostatistics & Health Data Science at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has been named as the new chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Biomedical Informatics.

Peter Embí, MD, MS

Peter Embí, MD, MS, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Regenstrief Institute, Inc., and Leonard Betley Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics & Health Data Science at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has been named as the new chair of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI), effective Jan. 1, 2022. Embí will also serve as Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation.

Embí succeeds DBMI chair Kevin Johnson, MD, MS, who is departing VUMC on Nov. 1 for leadership roles with the University of Pennsylvania and Perlman School of Medicine.

Embí, who is Associate Dean for Informatics & Health Services Research at IU School of Medicine, Vice President for Learning Health Systems at IU Health, and Associate Director at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute, was chosen after an extensive national search. Established in 1969, the Regenstrief Institute is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious research institutes of its kind, spanning the disciplines of biomedical informatics, health services research, implementation science and aging research. As its leader, Embí has grown the Institute’s faculty, overseen a 50% increase in funded research and greatly expanded partnerships and initiatives with related IU programs and organizations in Indiana.

As chair of the DBMI at VUMC, Embí will report to Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer for VUMC, and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. DBMI is the nation’s largest department and among the most widely recognized in academic biomedical informatics. It includes highly sought graduate training programs and an internationally recognized portfolio of research and development projects related to clinical, computational and translational informatics, bioinformatics, pharmacogenomics, systems biology and personalized medicine.

The DBMI is home to multiple centers, including the Center for Precision Medicine, Center for Improving the Public’s Health through Informatics, the Vanderbilt Clinical Informatics Center, Health Information Privacy Laboratory, Vanderbilt Health Data Science Center and the Center for Knowledge Management.

“I am excited to welcome Dr. Embí as our new DBMI chair. The department’s continued growth and success are tightly intertwined with VUMC’s role as a world leader in knowledge management and the advancement of clinical care. We are fortunate to have identified someone with Peter’s vision and experience who can take the department forward,” said Balser. “I would like to express my appreciation to Dr. Kimryn Rathmell for chairing this search, and to the others serving on the committee for their outstanding work. I also want to again express my deep appreciation to Dr. Johnson for his many years of service to VUMC, culminating with nearly a decade as DBMI’s leader where he established a strong foundation on which to build.”

In addition, in the newly created role of Senior VP for Research and Innovation reporting to Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Executive Vice President for Research and Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Embí will work closely with department chairs and other senior leaders to develop knowledge and data sciences management resources in support of the VUMC academic missions.

As an internationally recognized leader in the field, Embí is a frequently invited presenter and lecturer and has authored more than 160 peer-reviewed research articles, abstracts, books and book chapters. He currently holds grants from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Library of Medicine, National Institute for Drug Abuse and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as numerous nonprofit foundations and public health agencies.

He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida, Gainesville, and his medical degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa. He completed residency, chief residency, an informatics fellowship and a Master of Science in Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University. He then completed his rheumatology and immunology fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic before joining the faculty at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

Prior to IU, he served in leadership roles at The Ohio State University, where he was interim chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics, Associate Dean for Research Informatics for the College of Medicine and served as the nation’s first Chief Research Information Officer at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Embí also has experience in a variety of entrepreneurial activities, including co-inventing and co-founding health IT-based startups, partnering with companies to create and evaluate health care innovations, and developing programs that guide and enable other faculty to translate their discoveries into practice.

“Dr. Embí has the experience and skills to transform research informatics and digital innovation in a manner that aligns with our Strategic Directions and capitalizes on our signature environment of collaboration. He will advance digital innovations developed by faculty or co-developed with external partners,” said Pietenpol.

In recognition of his contributions to the field, Embí has been elected a fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), the American College of Medical Informatics (FACMI), the American Medical Informatics Association (FAMIA) and the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics (FIAHSI). He has also served in numerous national leadership roles, including as the immediate past president and chair of the Board of Directors of the American Medical Informatics Association.

“It is an honor to be selected as the next chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and as the inaugural SVP for Research and Innovation at VUMC. The impacts that DBMI faculty and staff have had on health and health care over the years simply cannot be overstated, and its reputation as the preeminent department in our field is richly deserved.” Embí said. “I am excited to lead this extraordinary group as we work to reach even greater heights, and I look forward to collaborating with so many amazing colleagues across Vanderbilt and the region to create, implement and disseminate innovations that will transform health care for a healthier and more equitable future for all.”

Other members serving on the search committee were David Caulkins, PhD, Jeff Carr, MD, Nancy Cox, PhD, Maureen Gannon, PhD, Erik Hess, MD, Bennett Landman, PhD, Warren Sandberg, MD, PhD, Adam Seegmiller, MD, PhD, Wesley Self, MD, Patricia Sengstack, DNP, Yu Shyr, PhD, Jay Wellons, MD, Consuelo Wilkins, MD, and Mary Zutter, MD.