PATH TEAM HIGHLIGHT: NEENA THOMAS AND INFORMATICS
Health research relies on data, and good data requires excellent informaticians. The PaTH Network is very lucky to have wonderful informatics teams across our seven sites. We spoke to Neena Thomas, the Data Access, Analysis, and Coordination (DAAC) Core leader at the Ohio State University, about her experience in the field of information science.
What is your role in the PaTH Network at your site?
I am an Informatics Manager and currently lead the Data Access Analysis and Coordination Core within the Department of Biomedical Informatics at The Ohio State University. I joined the OSU PCORnet team in 2017 as a data analyst and later started managing the PCORnet operations here at OSU. I provide oversight and guidance to governance, administrative, and data related aspects within OSU and PaTH. I am also responsible for the CDM [common data model] data extraction and liaising with legal and regulatory departments at OSU.
What was your first job? What was the journey like from that position to your current position?
My very first job was a software engineer for a Dutch firm to which I was recruited in my senior year of college (after majoring in biomedical engineering). I was part of two enterprise resource planning (ERP) products that were successfully released to European and Asian markets. I got a master's in finance management during this time, but I then realized I missed working in the biomedical area, so I went back to grad school for a master's in biomedical engineering. After joining OSU as a data analyst, I received multiple certifications in EPIC and became more involved in conceptualizing and executing the operations. From there, I worked in a variety of areas: designing and developing workflows, processes, and technical solutions; collecting, managing, and analyzing data; assisting and guiding in varying stages of development, implementation, and analysis of research projects. Currently, I lead a team of informaticians/data analysts and project managers for bioinformatics at OSU. Our team supports design of data collection tools, data analysis, and data storage solutions. We also access research data from sources like electronic health records (EHR) in order to complete health research. In terms of research, we also assist with project management and coordination.
We at PaTH are exceptionally grateful to have Neena Thomas – and all of our informaticians – on our team!