Seeing something you love embraced by the masses can make for a wonderful feeling of validation. But the early adopters always retain bragging rights, and Kathleen Holt loved big data before it was cool.
“I have a Ph.D. in social psychology psychometrics, so I’ve been interested in big data for a long time,” said Holt, senior project research associate for the CTSI and Center for Community Health. “But recently, the applications of big data have become practical and have implications just about everywhere.”
Holt joined the CTSI’s informatics team in late 2014. She spent the previous 14 years working for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), a council that accredits all the medical residency programs in the United States. Among other things, she worked to analyze residency programs.
“If you’re getting surgery training in Mississippi, is that the same training that you’d be getting if you were in New York City?” said Holt. “And how do you equate those things? How many surgeries are the residents doing, and how many do they need to do to be deemed competent? To help address those questions, we’d work with the surgeons and experts on the review committees.”
She was brought to the university by the notion that she could work on projects that would more closely impact patients and in the Rochester area.
“I’m very passionate about the Rochester area and local health and all the forms it takes — mental health, economic health, physical health,” she said. “It seemed like UR, and the Center for Community Health and the CTSI are places where research comes together to improve people’s health.”
So far, Holt has been studying data generated by the blood pressure advocate program at the Center for Community Health. Much data has been collected for the program, and she’s helping to analyze it, and is hoping to apply a geographic information system to create a data-driven picture of the impact of the program. This means answering questions such as: Where are the patients from? Are there things we can learn about our populations and our programs by examining where patients live?
At the CTSI, she’s worked with Tim Dye, the CTSI’s Director of Biomedical Informatics, and Dongmei Li, associate professor of Clinical and Translational Science, on a certificate program for biomedical informatics that will become a master’s degree program somewhere down the line.
“Kathleen is a critical connection between the informatics resources of the CTSI and the Center for Community Health,” said Dye. “Because she is embedded with both teams, she’s really able to match CCH needs with CTSI resources and informatics expertise. Since Kathleen has deep experience with technology and analysis, she’s also ideally suited to contribute to the design of effective community-based information systems.”
When she’s not at the CTSI, Holt and her husband (a family physician) spend some of their time performing in the Rochester Medical Orchestra, a group of musicians in the medical community who come together for several concerts a year. Holt (who plays the oboe) founded the group in 2007 with her husband (who plays the clarinet), and the orchestra’s concerts each year are fundraisers for local medical charities.
Holt’s office will soon be located on the 4th floor of the Saunders Research Building; for now, she’s in the CTSI Director’s Office. Stop by and say hello.