Bioinformatics and Data Science

The genesis of this new department division took place in 2013, when Aman Mahajan, MD, PhD, became department chair and initiated a collaboration among physician informatics specialists, data scientists, and the UCLA Health System Information Technology (IT) group. Programmers were hired to support faculty members Ira Hofer, MD, Eilon Gabel, MD, and James Moore, MD, who formed the nucleus of the new division; Dr. Hofer became the first director.

Over the next few years, the division grew with the recruitment of Maxime Cannesson, MD, PhD, the department's Vice Chair for Perioperative Medicine, who has published extensively on "Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)" and the concept of anesthesiology's evolving role beyond the operating room.

In 2016, our department was delighted to announce the recruitment of Eran Halperin, PhD, an internationally eminent computer scientist whose laboratory research focuses on the development of computational tools for the analysis of genetic data. These tools enable and facilitate genetic and epigenetic studies of common but complex conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Studies are illuminating the biological mechanisms of these diseases, and they promise to pave the way to improved diagnosis and precise, personalized treatment based on an individual's genetics.

The division now includes Andrew Cheng, MD, Matthew Fischer, MD, Vali Salari, PhD, Valerie Seabaugh, MD, and Theodora Wingert, MD.

At the core of the division has been the development of the Perioperative Data Warehouse (PDW), a custom-built, SQL-based data warehouse that extracts key data from EPIC (UCLA's electronic medical record) and organizes it into a more user-accessible format in a highly validated and structured way.

Currently in its third version, the PDW simplifies EPIC's 30,000 tables into 29 tables spread over 3 domains. It contains over 600 distinct measures and metrics that have been independently validated by practicing clinicians, and contain data from across the perioperative period. These data are integrated with UCLA Health's Self-Service Strategy (powered by Tableau) and disseminated via online dashboards and direct emails. The concepts behind this "data mart" have been published in peer-reviewed literature and are the foundation for departmental quality and research purposes. The PDW is the official reporting system for operating room management at UCLA Health.

Faculty members in the Division are either board-certified or in the process of becoming board-certified in Medical Informatics. In addition to their work providing data and analytic support to the range of departmental and health system programs, our faculty and staff are involved in a wide range of research activities:

  • Traditional informatics, including clinical decision support and data validation
  • Predictive analytics and machine learning
  • Collaborative projects with surgeons and physicians in other specialties.

The division now offers a one-year, non-ACGME accredited fellowship in perioperative informatics. The fellowship can be tailored to the specific needs and interests of the fellow, and is designed to provide experience across a broad array of perioperative informatics, including:

  • Database structure and design
  • SQL programming and "big data" analytics
  • Data visualization and presentation
  • Data security and compliance
  • Study design and analysis of large data sets
  • Integration of data into care improvement efforts
  • Clinical Decision Support

Our Expert Team

Vali Salari, PhD