Mical DeBrow, PhD RN
Director of Health Analytics and Business Intelligence
The U.S. has named Dr. Dhanurjay “DJ” Patil as the nation’s first-ever chief data scientist.
U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith made the announcement in a recent blog, saying, “President Obama has prioritized bringing top technical talent like DJ into the federal government to harness the power of technology and innovation to help government better serve the American people.”
According to Smith, one of Patil’s initial duties as deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist will be to “work on the Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which focuses on utilizing advances in data and health care to provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients, while protecting patient privacy.”
Not only is Patil the nation’s top data scientist, many credit him with coining the term. Indeed, in 2012 Patil co-authored a prescient article in the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.” The article made an argument for the growing importance of big data analytics, and also explained that a shortage of data scientists was “becoming a serious constraint in some sectors.”
President Obama has prioritized bringing top technical talent like DJ into the federal government to harness the power of technology and innovation to help government better serve the American people.
Today, as more and more industries are looking to leverage data analytics, the nation’s shortage of data scientists has only intensified. The stakes are particularly high in the healthcare sector because of the immense and life-saving potential data analytics holds. Unfortunately, the majority of the nation’s hospitals and health systems are struggling to manage the overwhelming amounts—and disparate sets—of data they’re collecting.
Smith says that in Patil’s new role as chief data scientist, he will “help to recruit and retain the best minds in data science to join us in serving the public.” Hopefully he can achieve that goal. But at the very least, creating this new government position will shine a light on what is still “the sexiest job” of the century.