Vanderbilt mourns loss of pediatric informatician Stuart WeinbergJul. 25, 2023, 2:47 PM
by Mia Garchitorena
Stuart T. Weinberg, MD, an innovator and advocate in the field of pediatric informatics with expertise in clinical reminders, web services, personal health records, immunization registries and clinical decision support at the provider, institutional and national levels, died on July 18 in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 63.
Dr. Weinberg was passionate about finding and implementing solutions to barriers to the delivery of health care to children. As one of the preeminent pediatric informaticists in the nation, he led work on immunization tracking and registries. At the time of his retirement in January 2022, Dr. Weinberg was actively applying these efforts at Vanderbilt, across the state of Tennessee, and through a national organization seeking to improve the quality of immunization databases. One notable result of these efforts was the successful identification and resubmission of more than 8,000 vaccines from Vanderbilt, including hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine doses, which had been previously rejected due to various errors.
“Over the years, Dr. Weinberg made significant, innovative and sustained contributions to our department, to VUMC and to the fields of informatics and pediatrics. Stuart was a valued friend and colleague to so many of us, and he will be sorely missed,” said Peter Embi, MD, MS, professor and chair of Biomedical Informatics, professor of Medicine and Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at VUMC.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Dr. Weinberg graduated from Dartmouth College in 1981 with a degree in computer science, and then matriculated to the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine. After completing his medical training in 1985, Dr. Weinberg completed a pediatric residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP).
In 1990, while completing his residency, Dr. Weinberg joined the National Library of Medicine Training Program in Medical Informatics, led by Randy Miller, MD, who worked as chief of the University of Pittsburgh’s Section of Medical Informatics at the time. During the informatics fellowship, Dr. Weinberg developed a Pediatric Continuity Clinic database at CHP, which was used until 2006 before the hospital implemented an electronic health record (EHR).
“Dr. Weinberg was an accomplished informatician, a trusted colleague, and a wonderful person,” said Miller, emeritus professor of Biomedical Informatics at VUMC. “Some of the best contributors to our field are clinician-informaticians with a decade or more of direct patient care experience who also possess considerable skill in inventing algorithms and writing code. They develop systems intended to help other clinicians and their patients. They repeatedly check the ‘patient’ (clinical installation site) to make sure the system has the intended effects and minimal side effects. They make timely adjustments as needed. A dedication to improving patients’ health over time transfers favorably to clinical informatics — and Stuart provided one of the best examples of this at Vanderbilt.”
“We will miss his enthusiasm and dedication to doing things the right way. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Anne, and his family,” Miller said.
For several years after his fellowship, Dr. Weinberg was clinically active as a pediatric hospitalist, first in Pittsburgh and then in Findlay, Ohio, while continuing pediatric informatics activities related to website development, clinical workflow, decision support and immunization registries.
Dr. Weinberg was recruited to Vanderbilt’s Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) in 2004 as assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatrics. He was promoted to associate professor in both departments in 2013.
At Vanderbilt, Dr. Weinberg accomplished much, including developing modules for WizOrder/HEO to support hospital admission and inpatient consult processes (including the rollout of the team pager concept for improved communication), programming interfaces to the Tennessee State Immunization Registry, integrating a third-party immunization clinical decision support web service into the EHR, and leading the development efforts of the Outpatient Whiteboard application, a clinical workflow tool that ran within StarPanel from 2005 through 2017.
Joining informatics “was like being a kid in a candy store,” Dr. Weinberg once said, adding that the field allowed him to merge his interests and skills in computer science and medicine.
Prior to his retirement, he said of DBMI, “I was so glad to be a part of an environment in which I could explore innovation and collaboration and learn about best practices in large production programming. If you need expertise in any topic in informatics, you can find it among our faculty. And I greatly enjoyed teaching students over the years.”
Dr. Weinberg was a longtime and respected leader with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), serving on the executive committee of the Section on Computers and Other Technologies from 1994-2000 and again on the executive committee of the Council on Clinical Information Technology from 2010-2019, serving as vice chair, chair and past chair during that period.
Throughout his career, Dr. Weinberg accumulated a robust list of accomplishments and awards. He received the AAP Byron B. Oberst Award from the Council on Clinical Information Technology in 2004 and Tennessee’s first CDC Childhood Immunization Champion award in 2012. He was inducted into the 2019 Inaugural class of American Medical Informatics Association Fellows, co-chaired the executive committee for a new Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Immunization Integration Program Collaborative, and much more.
Following his retirement from VUMC, Dr. Weinberg continued his involvement with immunization registries in collaboration with the CDC, HIMSS, the American Immunization Registry Association and more. He also continued fundraising efforts for two endowment funds he established with community foundations: the Carl B. Kern Fund of the Dayton Foundation (established in 1987) and the Tennessee chapter of the AAP endowment fund with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (established in 2020).
He enjoyed bowling, gardening, family history, his fellow Merrillites and had a “Dad jokes” sense of humor. He also loved supporting various activities associated with summer resident camps — a passion of his since his summer camper days during his youth.
Dr. Weinberg is survived by his mother, Gay Rosenberg Weinberg, wife, Anne Trowbridge Weinberg, son, Nathan S. Weinberg and daughter, Sarah A. Weinberg.
A memorial service will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a gift in Stuart’s memory may contribute to The Dayton Foundation’s Carl B. Kern Fund.