Brahmajee Nallamothu named new Precision Health Co-Director
We are pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2021, Brahmajee Nallamothu, MD, MPH, Professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and the Department of Internal Medicine at Michigan Medicine, will become a Co-Director of Precision Health at the University of Michigan. He will join Co-Directors Jenna Wiens, PhD, and Michael Boehnke, PhD. Nallamothu will succeed Sachin Kheterpal, MD, MBA, who is stepping down as Co-Director.
Nallamothu is transitioning to Co-Director from a successful role as Associate Director for Precision Health’s Data Analytics & IT Workgroup. With the launch of the Precision Health Analytics Platform and development of new data tools and resources, this workgroup expanded data access and analytic capabilities across the university. In this role as Precision Health workgroup lead, and as director of the Michigan Integrated Center for Health Analytics and Medical Prediction (MiCHAMP), Nallamothu has demonstrated his expertise in data science and big data, but his strong track record in precision health research does not end there. A key component of Precision Health is translating scientific discoveries into clinical applications and implementing them in patient care. Nallamothu’s leadership role in WIRED-L—a new wearable health technology research center—and his research in cardiovascular outcomes forge the path from raw data to improved patient health.
We thank Sachin Kheterpal for his leadership and vision as one of the founding Co-Directors of Precision Health, and we welcome Brahmajee Nallamothu, and look forward to his contributions.
Learn more about Nallamothu’s background, research, and vision for Precision Health in the Q&A that follows.
How did your academic and research background lead you to precision health?
I’m a cardiovascular health services and outcomes researcher. I’ve had a longstanding interest in how to provide specialized treatments to large populations of patients. I started my career examining patients with heart attacks who needed angioplasty and coronary stenting emergently. We needed to understand what types of patients most benefit from these procedures in order to design systems to get them access to treatments in a timely manner. This is the essence of precision health’s goals: finding the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. And it’s a theme that has only grown as I’ve moved on to other areas in cardiovascular medicine.
What sets the field of precision health apart from other kinds of research?
Precision health is set apart from other kinds of research by building on the rich body of data and methods that have grown in the last few years. It specifically leverages new data sources— whether they include genetic, biomarker, sociodemographic, or environmental information—to understand differences in how individual patients respond to tests and treatments used in everyday medicine. In my mind, it is very applied, that is, measurable success of these new tools is important whether they are applied individually at the bedside or in populations. This makes precision health multidisciplinary by its nature, as it brings together experts in basic research, translational research, clinical research, bioinformatics, and data science.
What makes U-M, in particular, fertile ground for precision health research?
The depth and breadth of U-M across multiple fields in the sciences and humanities is well known. And as a large, publicly funded university, we stand apart from most institutions in our resources and mission. This makes us fertile ground. But the secret sauce that I believe really will catalyze our opportunity for success is the collegial nature of leadership across campus. U-M is committed to building the infrastructure needed to ensure that precision health research will occur in settings outside of traditional venues, which will help to make our work more creative and impactful.
What do you envision for Precision Health at U-M in the coming years?
Precision Health at U-M will remain focused on key areas around 1) cohort development, 2) data analytics, 3) training and education, and 4) implementation. These will remain important as the field evolves. I believe, however, that the areas we need to ensure focus on are engaging and training more users for the tools we’ve developed, and enhancing our opportunities in implementation. Implementation, in particular, is so exciting. The work being led by the Precision Health team at U-M in this space will ultimately allow the insights we develop in other areas to make it to the bedside. Our ability to work with clinical operations is exciting since Michigan Medicine has such broad reach and has been a great partner. In the end, I want to see the research we do in precision health save lives and improve patient experiences. We should hold ourselves accountable to that high a bar.