Isaac (Zak) Kohane MD, PhDZac Kohane
Director, Children’s Hospital Informatics Program
Henderson Professor of Pediatrics and Health Sciences and Technology
Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston
Director, Countway Library of Medicine
Director, i2b2 National Center for Biomedical Computing
Co-Director, HMS Center for Biomedical Informatics


Presentation Title: Biomedical Quants of the World Unite! We only have our disease burden to lose.

Presentation Time: Monday July 14,  9:00 am - 10:00 am
Introduction by: Paul Horton, Conference Steering Committee



Several dramatic trends are conspiring to threaten the delivery of quality healthcare and the advancement of biomedical science. These include the disappearance of primary healthcare physicians, the ballooning of data volume and diversity required for precision medicine in the context of medical training which is driven by antiquated models of apprenticeship and a reluctance to adopt data-driven problem-solving methods. It also includes an electronic health record ecosystem focused on documentation for reimbursement and continued compartmentalization of data within institutional barriers and within data types. The key to overcome these and other related obstacles is a recognition by biomedical quants of various stripes: modelers and system architects, whether they are called bioinformaticians, computational biologists, or  biomedical informaticians that their expertise is central to the necessary revolution in healthcare and biomedical science that will be no less dramatic than the Flexnerian revolution of 1910. I will enumerate the multiple opportunities in this regard and also the necessary structures within and across our community that are required if we are to meet our societal obligations.


Isaac (Zak) Kohane is the director of the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program and is the Henderson Professor of Pediatrics and Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School (HMS). He is also the co-Director of the HMS Center for Biomedical Informatics and Director of the HMS Countway Library of Medicine. Dr. Kohane leads multiple collaborations at Harvard Medical School and its hospital affiliates in the use of genomics and computer science to study diseases (particularly cancer and autism) through the perspective of biological development. He also has developed several computer systems to allow multiple hospital systems to be used as “living laboratories” to study the genetic basis of disease while preserving patient privacy. Among these, the i2b2 (Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside) National Computing Center has been deployed at over 52 academic health centers internationally.

Dr. Kohane has published over 200 papers in the medical literature and authored a widely used book on Microarrays for an Integrative Genomics. He has been elected to multiple honor societies including the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the American College of Medical Informatics, and the Institute of Medicine. He leads a doctoral program in genomics and bioinformatics at the Division of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT. He is also a practicing pediatric endocrinologist and father of three energetic children.