By Kevin Davies
April 29, 2013 | BETHESDA, MD—With two weeks left to the application deadline, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is still searching for the ideal candidate to fill a plumb new job in biomedical data science.
NIH Director Francis Collins noted the opportunity during his closing lecture at a symposium last week to mark the tenth anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project.
The new position—Associate Director for Data Science (cutely ADDS for short)—is being billed as an opportunity to “give back,” according to NHGRI director Eric Green and other senior NIH administrators. NIH says the position, which will report to Collins, offers “a unique and exciting opportunity to provide critical leadership for basic and translational research.”
NIH is the world's largest medical research facility, with an annual budget of $29 billion and more than 18,000 employees.
With the emergence of “Big Data,” NIH says there are, “spectacular opportunities for NIH to enhance its programs in data science, such as those involving data emanating from different sources” including genomics, imaging, and medical records.
The incumbent will serve as the principal advisor to the NIH Director (and indeed all NIH leadership) across all facets of data science, including bioinformatics, computational biology, biomedical informatics, biostatistics, information science, and quantitative biology.
The ADDS also serves as Chair of the newly created trans-NIH Scientific Data Council (SDC), responsible for overseeing the NIH’s Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative; coordination with data science activities beyond NIH; and long-term strategic planning in data science.
The new recruit will provide, “a vision for the utilization and extraction of knowledge from the data generated by, and relevant to, NIH research,” as well as playing a key advisory role on issues in data science, “to ensure continual achievement of NIH’s dynamic biomedical research mission.”
The ADDS position was created following recommendations made by the Data and Informatics Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (http://acd.od.nih.gov/diwg.htm). Green is currently filling in as the acting ADDS.
NIH says it is seeking applicants with “senior-level experience,” a “commitment to excellence and the energy, enthusiasm, and innovative thinking necessary to lead a dynamic and diverse organization.”
The ideal ADDS applicant should be known and respected internationally “as someone of scientific prominence, with a distinguished record of research accomplishments and leadership credentials,” preferably an active scientist “conducting cutting-edge research.”
Other desired traits include, “demonstrated expertise in policy development as well as the ethical, legal, and social implications of the major issues relevant to data science as it pertains to biomedical research.” The candidate must demonstrate knowledge about multiple domains of study as well as familiarity with approaches for integrating data from those domains. A modicum of management acumen is also highly desirable.
A more detailed description of the ADDS position can be found at http://www.jobs.nih.gov (under Executive Careers). The NIH will begin reviewing applications in two weeks, on May 13, 2013.