State lands informatics endowed chair

SCBIZ Daily Staff
November 11, 2008

South Carolina has landed another endowed chair with the recruitment of a top expert in research databases and Web-based clinical research systems for the state’s Centers of Economic Excellence program.

Dr. Jihad S. Obeid has been appointed Endowed Chair in Biomedical Informatics at the Medical University of South Carolina. Medical informatics focuses on the management and processing of data, information and knowledge to improve health care practice and delivery.

Obeid will work with information technology professionals throughout South Carolina to develop software and infrastructure to help researchers share data and collaborate across hospitals and universities. Obeid is known nationally for developing software to manage complex data in clinical settings.

By making clinical trial information easier to collect and analyze, medical informatics systems enable researchers to conduct rigorous studies and more easily compare the effectiveness of different treatments for a given disease. This allows treatment to move from the lab to the patient faster and more efficiently.

“By increasing our leadership in clinical trials research, South Carolina is more likely to attract pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, which rely on clinical trials to test their products,” said Dr. John Raymond, MUSC’s vice president for academic affairs. “These companies would invest millions of dollars and create high-paying jobs that would invigorate South Carolina’s economy and raise the standard of living.”

Obeid will work with Dr. John J. Schaefer III, an Endowed Chair in Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety. The two will work to develop better ways to collect, organize, transfer and interpret data generated through the Simulation Center Network, a group of seven existing or planned facilities throughout South Carolina.

He also will work with Dr. Iain Sanderson and Dr. Jay Moskowitz, Endowed Chairs for Healthcare Quality at the University of South Carolina. His work with Sanderson will be to create statewide biomedical informatics programs, including a clinical data warehouse to optimize collected data and make it easier to conduct statewide clinical trials, improve the quality and efficiency of trials and integrate information from multiple sites.

“We are working to build informatics in South Carolina to make the jobs of researchers easier by providing them with access to databases and tools so that they can accomplish more,” Obeid said.

In addition to his position as an endowed chair, Obeid will be director of academic informatics for the S.C. Clinical and Translational Research Institute and an associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Epidemiology at MUSC.

Obeid arrives to South Carolina from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he was associate director for biomedical informatics at the Clinical and Translational Science Center and an associate research professor of pediatrics.

He previously worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, in Boston.

The Centers of Economic Excellence program was created in 2002 by the S.C. General Assembly. It invests lottery funds to create research centers at the state’s three research universities, Clemson University, USC and MUSC, and to attract world-renowned scientists to the state.

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