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Bioinformatics Pioneer Will Lead New Initiatives at Emory University


Joel H. Saltz, MD, PhD, a pioneer in the fields of high-performance computing and biomedical informatics, will join Emory University’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center in September as director of the Center for Comprehensive Informatics and as Emory Healthcare’s Chief Medical Information Officer. The announcement was made by Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, Emory executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and chairman of Emory Healthcare.

Saltz will help develop and lead new initiatives that are expected to fuel scientific discovery in health and medicine and to empower more precise and scientifically informed decision-making in patient care, says Sanfilippo.

Saltz currently serves as professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics and professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio State University (OSU), Davis Endowed Chair of Cancer at OSU, and a senior fellow of the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Prior to coming to OSU, Saltz was professor of pathology and informatics in the Department of Pathology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland.

With more than $4.7 million in National Institutes of Health funding and some $70 million in total active grant funding, Saltz has more than 325 publications and 70 invited presentations to his credit. He is trained both as a computer scientist and as a medical scientist. He received his MD and his PhD (computer science) degrees at Duke University. He completed a residency in clinical pathology at Johns Hopkins University and is a board-certified clinical pathologist.

As chief medical information officer for Emory Healthcare, Saltz will direct strategic planning and implementation of the comprehensive Emory Medical Information Enterprise. He will guide recruitment, research and resource allocation for informatics programs across academic departments. Additionally, he will lead the further development of Emory’s external partnerships in bioinformatics, including those with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Georgia Research Alliance and the Georgia Cancer Coalition.

“Dr. Saltz will help us achieve our vision of transforming health and healing by applying computer science to the overarching challenges facing the biological and biomedical sciences,” says Sanfilippo. “He will accelerate our already outstanding momentum in biomedical research as we continue to increase the quality of care we provide to our patients and their families. His addition to our faculty is a significant step forward toward our goal of being the 21st century model of an academic health sciences and health services center.”

Among his many noteworthy achievements, Saltz has been a leader in the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), an initiative of the National Cancer Institute Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology. The initiative helps cancer researchers, clinicians and patients share relevant data and information, speed translation of new cancer diagnostics and therapies from the laboratory to the community and help fully realize the potential of predictive health. Saltz has spearheaded other groundbreaking biomedical information projects in cardiovascular medicine, clinical research and imaging. While at Johns Hopkins in 1996, he created prototypes for the first virtual microscope software.

The field of bioinformatics uses computer technology to analyze and interpret a wealth of biological data generated from fundamental research and translates that information into the knowledge necessary to develop medical innovations. Biomedical informatics will enhance established and emerging Emory programs in the neurosciences, predictive health, computational and life sciences, transplantation, global health, vaccines and inflammation, regenerative medicine, respiratory health, cardiovascular health, cancer and clinical trials.


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