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September 17, 2018

Meharry Launches Data Science Institute

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2018 — Meharry Medical College has announced the launch of a new data science initiative, the Data Science Institute at Meharry, a historic development in the treatment and care of the underserved.

The Institute will allow health care practitioners, researchers and students to mine more than 3.5 million medical and dental records to gain new and unique insights into medical, social and environmental issues and trends that impact the health of minority populations and the poor. As today’s standards of care are based largely on data from Caucasian patients, Meharry anticipates that the Institute’s wealth of real-time, curated clinical data will fuel learning, discovery and improvements in care for these populations for years to come.

“This is a monumental day for Meharry and for the students and patients we serve,” said James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D., President and CEO of Meharry Medical College. “Big data is shaping the future of health care education, innovation and delivery, and Meharry students, faculty and partners now have a diverse and deep well of medical, social and environmental data at our fingertips. This unique and growing database will inform and enhance our mission to identify, analyze and address the health challenges facing minority and underserved populations.”

Hildreth unveiled the Institute on Thursday during the Global Action Platform’s Fall University-Business Showcase at ONEC1TY. Mayor David Briley made opening remarks, and was joined by Dr. Scott T. Massey, Founding Chairman and CEO of Global Action Platform and other community leaders at the event.

The Institute’s data is pulled from 200,000 unique patients who visited Nashville General Hospital, Meharry Medical Group and Meharry’s Dental School clinics over the last ten years. Patients represented in the data are 48 percent male and 52 percent female, and the age breakdown is as follows: 0-18 years (20.76%), 19-25 (14.53%), 26-34 (19.24%), 35-54 (29.90%), 55-64 (9.59%), and 65+ (5.99%). The data is anonymous and scrubbed of all Personal Health Information (PHI), such as name, address and other self-identifying information.

The Institute, located on Meharry’s campus, will initially target its research on four chronic diseases that disparately affect poor and minority populations: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

Raw data from the Institute already indicates some potential trends that will drive additional investigation. Nineteen percent of the total patient population seen by the Meharry-Nashville General Hospital network in the last five years has been diagnosed with either hypertension or diabetes, and, in the last two years, the number of patients seen with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes has risen 16 percent.

The Institute plans to release quarterly research papers on its findings and recommendations, and host at least one annual conference. It also will support new areas of research and study at Meharry, beginning with the first Data Science Survey Class in January and a Certificate of Data Sciences, which will be offered in the 2019-20 academic year.

“I applaud Meharry and Nashville General for putting in place data infrastructure to build their understanding of their patients’ needs,” said Dr. Bill Paul, Director of the Metropolitan Health Department. “Nashville is changing, and our health needs are changing, so it is important to use data and track changes to help guide policies and decisions, both within health care systems and for the community as a whole.”

The Institute is led by Amy M. Andrade, Senior Advisor to the President for Technology and Innovation and Assistant Vice President of Research at Meharry. Clearsense, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based health data management company, worked with Meharry for the past three years to build the data infrastructure for the Institute.  The Institute’s data framework will connect with any other IT infrastructure or data source, ensuring providers and researchers have access to real data in real time.

Andrade will be supported by an advisory committee of senior-level Meharry faculty that will facilitate collaboration and connection across the college’s schools and among specific departments. Founding members of the advisory committee are:

  • Maria F. Lima, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, and Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation
  • Dexter Samuels, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, and Executive Director of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy
  • Brenda Y. Lemus, M.D., Assistant Dean, Clinical Research Director and Assistant Professor, Professional and Medical Education

The Institute is seeking new opportunities to collaborate with like-minded institutional and industry partners that are invested in the health of minority and underserved populations.

“Meharry understands the power of partnerships to innovate, improve and save lives,” said Andrade. “By working with partners across academia and the industry, we will be able to leverage this unique data set in new and powerful ways to specially meet the needs of patients and the greater community.” 

About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church related institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Visit to learn more.

About Global Action Platform

Global Action Platform is the leading university-business alliance to advance scalable, sustainable solutions for abundant food, health, and prosperity.  Global Action Platform is the resident nonprofit and think tank for oneC1TY, a twenty-acre global innovation hub now under construction in Nashville, and strategic development partner with GPSS on comprehensive rural development projects. The goal is to create a world of abundance for all people, so that every single individual has a chance to thrive.

About Clearsense

Based in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Clearsense is helping healthcare organizations leverage all their data sources in realtime to make better decisions. Their cloud-based ecosystem works with any IT infrastructure and virtually any data source, contextualizing information at the point of decision to help healthcare organizations realize immediate value from their data in order to meet the challenges of value-based care, improve population health, and ultimately help reduce preventable deaths.

Source: Clearsense

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