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NIH Announces New Associate Director for Biomedical Research Data

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The National Institutes of Health said this week that it has hired Philip Bourne as the first permanent associate director for data science.

The NIH announced in January this year that it planned to recruit someone who would lead its efforts to make better use of the growing quantities of biomedical research data including genomics, imaging, and electronic health records. In the interim, Eric Green served as acting associate director in addition to maintaining his current role as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

When Bourne joins the NIH in early 2014, he will lead "an NIH-wide priority initiative to take better advantage of the exponential growth of biomedical research datasets, which is an area of critical importance to biomedical research," NIH Director Francis Collins, said in a statement.

Bourne is the associate vice chancellor for Innovation and industry alliances at the University of California San Diego and a professor in UCSD's pharmacology department and its Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. He is also the associate director of the RSCB Protein Data Bank. He was editor in chief of the open access journal Plos Computational Biology, which he also co-founded. He held the position for seven years before stepping down in October 2012.

A physical chemist by training, with a doctoral degree from Flinders University in Australia, Bourne's research interests revolve around applying algorithms, text mining, machine learning, metalanguages, biological databases, and visualization to problems in systems pharmacology, evolution, cell signaling, apoptosis, immunology, and scientific dissemination.

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