Posted on May 24th, 2019 by Dr. Francis Collins
Posted In: Director's Album - Videos
Tags: All of Us, Chief Data Strategist
Its a Good News
Unfortunately, no amount of vision will solve the major challenges NIH will face in doing this correctly. NIH has every resource and talent to pull this off. What NIH does not yet have is a management culture that can separate poison politics and subjectivity from complex initiatives like these. This position and effort is of existential necessity if NIH wants to remain relevant to science (outmoded data strategy will be malpractice in the next decade of research – no NIH budget increase will compensate for this). This position needs to be *empowered* by expert and community recommendations that NIH leadership is accountable to (not the other way around). Otherwise, whomever accepts this position will soon see their vision blinded by unresponsive and siloed viewpoints, gossamer handholds on technology, and lead-heavy bureaucracy.
I agree with Jason ;-). However one must start somewhere. I think it is fantastic that NIH is hiring someone to play this role. What needs to happen is not only empowerment and guidance from and in collaboration with the community, but also an overarching strategic vision for how intramural and extramural activities across NIH ICs can work together synergistically instead of in competing silos. Further, there needs to be a deep understanding and commitment to of all aspects of the data life cycle. There should be just as much importance placed on data curation and data standards and tools to support these efforts as on sophisticated computer science technologies such as machine learning. All of these technologies benefit enormously from – and depend on – quality, clean, well structured and well maintained data. I fear that an undue focus on the current technical innovations will overpower the potentially less exciting but critically foundational data stewardship and socio-technical engineering that are required for this role to be maximally impactful.
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Kendall Morgan, Ph.D.
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