Meharry Medical College launches data science institute to improve care in minority populations

Meharry Medical College, a historically black college in Nashville, Tenn., unveiled a data science institute targeted toward minority populations Sept. 13.

The data science institute will enable healthcare practitioners, researchers and students to mine more than 3.5 million medical and dental records collected from an estimated 200,000 patients who visited Nashville General Hospital, Meharry Medical Group and Meharry's dental school clinics during the past decade.

Meharry scrubbed all identifying information, such as names and addresses, from the data.

Since today's standards of care are largely based on research with white patients, Meharry officials anticipate the data science institute will drive new insight into medical, social and environmental trends that affect the health of minority and underserved populations.

The data science institute will release quarterly research papers on its findings and recommendations, beginning with research into four chronic conditions: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. The institute also plans to host at least one annual data science conference and will support new programs at Meharry, including a new certificate of data sciences in the 2019-20 academic year.

"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," James E.K. Hildreth, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College, said in a news release.

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