Meet the 2017 Faculty

We are proud to announce the faculty for the 2017 tutorial workshops:


Eun Kyoung Ahn

Rimma Belenkaya, M.A., M.S.
Data Modeler/Knowledge Manager
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Rimma Belenkaya is a part of the Knowledge Management and Innovation team at the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Department of Health Informatics. She specializes in semantic and relational modeling of bio-medical information, data integration and standardization, interoperability, and data quality assurance. Her focus is on standardizing MSK metric definitions, underlying data models, and metric visualization across the institution. She is also working on implementation of the enterprise controlled terminology using Semantic Web technologies.

Her engagement with the OHDSI community started with the PCORI-sponsored CDRN project that intended to consolidate patient records from multiple medical centers across the country for comparative effectiveness research. She worked on adopting the OMOP Common Data Model (CDM) as a staging model for the New York City CDRN, establishing interoperability standards between OMOP and CDRN PCORnet models, and extending the OMOP CDM to support the PCORnet use case. Results of these efforts were presented at the 2015 AMIA Join Summits on Translational Science and 2015 OHDSI Symposium.

She continues her involvement with OHDSI by contributing to the OHDSI CDM and Vocabulary Workgroup. This year, she initiated an Oncology subgroup that aims to extend OHDSI CDM and vocabulary to represent oncology data and support cancer research based on observational data.

Eun Kyoung Ahn

Clair Blacketer, MPH, PMP
Manager, Epidemiology Analytics
Janssen Research & Development

Clair Blacketer is a Manager in the Epidemiology Analytics group within Epidemiology at Janssen Research & Development, a Johnson & Johnson company. She began her career at a regional health system in her home state of Virginia focused on health outcomes research, specifically in patients with sepsis. She then moved on to studying Medicare health care economics at a large payer and while there she was instrumental in implementing a novel way to track dual-enrolled Medicare retirees. Clair joined Janssen in 2015 where her main area of focus has been observational data management. This includes managing multiple ETL conversions to the OMOP Common Data Model as well as serving as project manager for the Common Data Model working group. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from James Madison University and her Master in Public Health from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Clair is also a certified Project Management Professional.

Frank DeFalco

Frank DeFalco
Associate Director, Epidemiology Analytics
Janssen Research and Development

Frank DeFalco is an Associate Director of Epidemiology Analytics at Janssen Research and Development where he architects software solutions and data platforms for the analysis and application of observational data sources. Frank’s areas of expertise include large scale data platforms, software development, data visualization and informatics. He is currently a collaborator and leader of the open-source software working group in OHDSI and has contributed to the release of the Achilles and Achilles Web tools for characterization and visualization of observational data sets in the OMOP Common Data Model format.

Prior to joining Janssen Research and Development, Frank held the position of Senior Principal and Director of Collaboration and Analytics at British Telecom where he was a strategic advisor for multiple Fortune 100 companies across sectors including Consumer Products, Telecommunications and Pharmaceuticals. Frank received his undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Psychology at Rutgers University.


sigfriedSigfried Gold
Information Visualization Consultant

Sigfried Gold designs and develops interactive information visualization software. He has been building database and web applications for thirty years. He received a Master’s in Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University in the department that now runs the OHDSI Coordinating Center. He built the Patient Profile visualization in ATLAS while consulting for Janssen Research and Development and is currently developing Vocabulary visualization tools for the University of Colorado. Along with Clair Blacketer he leads the OHDSI Vocabulary / Population Visualization Working Group.

Sigfried is committed to open-source software and is focusing his entire professional energies on OHDSI. He appreciates working for diverse institutions in the OHDSI community so he can gain a broad perspective on user needs and build tools that benefit the whole collaborative. Links to some of Sigfried’s past work are available at his website:


George Hripcsak

George Hripcsak, MD, MS
Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics
Columbia University Medical Center

George Hripcsak, MD, MS, is Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor and Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biomedical Informatics and Director of Medical Informatics Services for New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Campus. He is a board-certified internist with degrees in chemistry, medicine, and biostatistics. Dr. Hripcsak’s current research focus is on the clinical information stored in electronic health records and on the development of next-generation health record systems. Using nonlinear time series analysis, machine learning, knowledge engineering, and natural language processing, he is developing the methods necessary to support clinical research and patient safety initiatives. He led the effort to create the Arden Syntax, a language for representing health knowledge that has become a national standard, and he co-chaired the Meaningful Use Workgroup of HSS’s Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, which defined the criteria by which health care providers collect incentives for using electronic health records. Dr. Hripcsak chaired the National Library of Medicine’s Biomedical Library and Informatics Review Committee, and he is a fellow of the Institute of Medicine, the American College of Medical Informatics, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has published over 250 papers.

Dr. Hripcsak serves as PI–with co-PI David Madigan–of OHDSI’s Coordinating Center, which is based at Columbia University. His recent pharmacovigilance research has included medication-wide association studies, which improve visualization and prediction by exploiting structural and functional relationships among medications, and next-generation phenotyping to better exploit electronic health record data for observational research.

Christophe G. Lambert, PhD
Associate Professor
University of New Mexico, Center for Global Health, Division of Translational Informatics, Deptpartment of Internal Medicine

In August 2014, Dr. Lambert became a faculty member in the University of New Mexico Center for Global Health, Division of Translational Informatics and Department of Internal Medicine. His research focuses on analyzing longitudinal healthcare data for predictive and preventative medicine, in collaboration with other members of the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics program. He is currently developing statistical and computational tools to compare treatment options and obtain better estimates of expected health outcomes despite large biases and confounding in the data, with a focus on bipolar disorder and hepatitis C.

This research builds on and continues nearly 15 years of analytic research in the genetic causes of disease performed during Dr. Lambert’s tenure as founder and CEO of bioinformatics company, Golden Helix. Golden Helix software and services empower scientists to accelerate research productivity, determine the genetic causes of disease, facilitate genetic testing, develop diagnostics and advance the quest for personalized medicine. Serving hundreds of researchers on six continents, its customers include the world’s top pharmaceutical, biotech and clinical and academic research organizations. Golden Helix products and services have been cited in over 750 peer-reviewed publications.  Dr. Lambert has sustained scientific and thought leadership for the company through publication and speaking, with widely attended webcasts and popular blog articles that advocate for systemic improvement of healthcare and research.

Karthik Natarajan

Karthik Natarajan, PhD
Associate Research Scientist, Department of Biomedical Informatics
Columbia University

Dr. Karthik Natarajan is an Assistant Professor in the Department Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University. He received his BS in computer science at the University of Texas at Austin. After working in the technology sector, he went on to obtain his PhD in biomedical informatics at Columbia University. Dr. Natarajan’s research interests are in operationalizing clinical informatics solutions. His specific area of interest is in applying scalable information retrieval and text processing methods on clinical data in order to build applications that will support both health professionals and researchers. Dr. Natarajan is an active member of the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) collaborative and particpates in the CDM and NLP working groups. He is currently working on converting United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) data to enable transplant outcomes analysis. As part of the coordinating center, he helps with educating new members on ETL processes into the OMOP common data model. Dr. Natarajan also oversees the local instances of OHDSI at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

headshotGowtham Rao MD PhD

Gowtham Rao MD PhD is the Chief Medical Informatics Officer at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, where he is responsible for the portfolio of Informatics and Data Science in the Population Health Division. Dr. Rao was introduced to the OHDSI community in 2016 symposium and has since joined the journey of improving health outcomes thru evidence generation. Some of Dr. Rao’s major contribution to the OHDSI community has been to the OMOP common data model (visit_detail, cost, payer_plan_period tables), cohort-builder (circe-be), Atlas functionality and webapi. He is board certified physician, certified in Preventive Medicine and in Clinical Informatics, and has earned a PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Christian Reich

Christian Reich, MD, PhD
VP RWE Systems
IMS Health

Christian has more than 15 years of experience in life science research and medicine. He was a practicing physician in Berlin and Ulm, Germany before moving to the European Bioinformatics Institute to work on the Human Genome Project. He then joined the biotech industry in 1998, where he worked in various positions on typical challenges in drug research and development, such as gene sequence and expression analysis, clinical trial design and analysis, systems biology, and outcome research, applying computational methods to large scale biological data. Christian is vice president of Real-World Evidence Systems at IMS Health. He received his bachelor’s degree in preclinical training from Humboldt University in Berlin and holds his M.D. and doctorate from the Medical University of Lübeck, Germany where he focused his research on T-cell activation and regulation.

Reich served as a principal investigator of the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP), a public-private partnership chaired by the Food and Drug Administration, where he was responsible for the design and construction of the OMOP Vocabulary.


Peter Rijnbeek

Peter Rijnbeek, PhD
Assistant Professor
Erasmus University Medical Center

Peter Rijnbeek, PhD, obtained his MSc (1996) in Electrical Engineering at the Technical University Delft. His PhD thesis, received from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, was on the development of a computer program to automatically interpret pediatric electrocardiograms. Currently, he is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam in the Pharmaco-epidemiology group of the Department of Medical Informatics.

His research interests include secondary use of health care databases, remote research environments, machine learning and pattern recognition, analysis of the electrocardiogram, and predictive modeling. He is the project leader of the remote research environment OCTOPUS and leads the Jerboa software development team. These tools are currently used in several European FP7 projects that study side effects of drugs in a federated manner. He is the leader of WP12 “Data extraction, benchmarking, aggregation & linkage” in the European Medical Information Framework (EMIF) and project leader of a project on risk factors for ventricular arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death as an adverse reaction of commonly used drugs in the elderly.

Peter is leading the Patient-Level Prediction working group in OHDSI together with Jenna Reps.


Patrick RyanPatrick Ryan, PhD

Sr. Director and Head, Epidemiology Analytics
Janssen Research and Development

Patrick Ryan, PhD is Senior Director of Epidemiology and the Head of Epidemiology Analytics at Janssen Research and Development, where he is leading efforts to develop and apply analysis methods to better understand the real-world effects of medical products. He is currently a collaborator in Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI), a multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary collaborative to create open-source solutions that bring out the value of observational health data through large-scale analytics. He served as a principal investigator of the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP), a public-private partnership chaired by the Food and Drug Administration, where he led methodological research to assess the appropriate use of observational health care data to identify and evaluate drug safety issues.

Patrick received his undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Operations Research at Cornell University, his Master of Engineering in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering at Cornell, and his PhD in Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Patrick has worked in various positions within the pharmaceutical industry at Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, and also in academia at the University of Arizona Arthritis Center.


Martijn Schuemie

Martijn Schuemie, PhD
Director, Epidemiology Analytics
Janssen Research and Development

Dr. Martijn Schuemie received his Master’s degree in Economics with a major in Information Management. He completed his PhD in Computer Science on the topic of human-computer interaction in virtual reality systems for phobia treatment. In the past, he was employed as an assistant professor at the Erasmus University Medical Center of Rotterdam, where he started by researching the application of text-mining the scientific literature in support of molecular biology. He later moved to pharmacoepidemiology, and was one of the lead investigators in the EU-ADR project tasked with building a prototype drug safety signal detection system using population-level observational data. In 2012 he received a one-year fellowship of the FDA and became an active OMOP investigator.

In 2013 Martijn joined Janssen Research and Development, where he continued his research in OMOP and later in OHDSI. He is working on methods for estimating average effect sizes in observational, calibration of effect size estimates, and patient level prediction, as well as supporting the conversion of databases to the OMOP CDM. Within OHDSI, Martijn has developed the White Rabbit and Rabbit in a Hat tools, and is contributing to the OHDSI Methods Library. Martijn is heading the OHDSI Population-Level Methods workgroup together with Marc Suchard.


Marc SuchardMarc Suchard, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Biomathematics, David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles

Dr. Suchard is in the forefront of high-performance statistical computing. He is a leading Bayesian statistician who focuses on inference of stochastic processes in biomedical research and in the clinical application of statistics. His training in both Medicine and Applied Probability help bridge the gap of understanding between statistical theory and clinical practicality. He has been awarded several prestigious statistical awards such as the Savage Award (2003), the Mitchell Prize (2006 and 2011), as well as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2007) in computational and molecular evolutionary biology and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008) to further computational statistics. He recently received the Raymond J. Carroll Young Investigator Award (2011) for a leading statistician within 10 years post-Ph.D., and in 2013 he was honored with the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS) Presidents’ Award for outstanding contributions to the statistics profession by a person aged 40 or under. He is an elected Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

Don Torok

Don Torok, MS
Ephir Inc

I have been working as a consultant with Ephir Inc. since January 2010. During that time, I have: specified ETLs for a number of EHR and Claims datasets into OMOP, Mini-Sentinal and PCORnet common data models; Installed the OHDSI Web API and Atlas tool set; Developed ETLs to OMOP CDM using AWS RedShift, Oracle, SQL-Server and Postgres for both claims and EHR datasets; QC’ed ETL implementations and OHDIS vocabularies; and implemented code to create Drug and Condition Era tables.

Prior to joining Ephir I worked as a programmer/analyst at IMS Health from June 2004 through Nov 2009. There I developed custom analytic reports, using health care data, for most major drug and other health care related companies.

miu Mui Van Zandt

  Director Product Development, QuintilesIMS

Mui is a Director of Product Development at QuintilesIMS, managing the OMOP Factory.  Mui’s  area  of expertise include software development, data conversions, agile process, and project management.   The OMOP Factory has been performing OMOP ETL conversions on over 12 different datasets in 6 different countries.  Mui has gained extensive knowledge working on large patient databases in the OMOP model and the standard vocabularies that are needed to support these conversions.  She’s played an active role in creating extension to RxNorm.

Mui is a contributor to the current community through many different working groups.  She is an active member of the Hadoop working group and will be taking over the leadership role in October.  She is also collaborating with others in extending the OMOP CDM for surveys for the CDM/Vocabulary working group.  She is a member of the China and Architect working groups. She has been providing OMOP trainings to many different parties and sharing her experience with others.

Mark Velez, MA
Technical Lead, Columbia University

Mark Velez is a technical lead for the Clinical Data Warehouse team at Columbia University Medical Center. He received a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Science at Brooklyn College and a Master of Arts in Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University. He has worked as a software developer and project manager for several tech startups and for the New York City Department of Health and currently leads technical architecture at Columbia University, the central coordinating center of OHDSI.

Erica Voss

Erica Voss, MPH
Associate Director, Epidemiology Analytics
Janssen Research and Development

Erica Voss is currently a Associate Director in the Epidemiology Analytics group within Epidemiology at Janssen Research & Development, a Johnson & Johnson company. Starting in the IT department, she focused on data warehousing and working with large datasets. In 2007, she started working with observational datasets and later joined the Epidemiology department in 2011. Her projects typically include studying patient populations across different therapeutic areas as well as implementing OHDSI tools, such as converting the Truven MarketScan and Optum Clinformatics claims datasets into the OMOP Common Data Model.  Erica received her Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences and Technology at the Pennsylvania State University, her Master in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Medical Informatics at Erasmus MC. She is also a certified Project Management Professional.