Chief Data Scientist and Lead Biomedical Informatician, FDA Sentinel Operations Center


The Department of Population Medicine (DPM) at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute (, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, seeks an individual and/or faculty member to lead the data science and biomedical informatics work of its Division of Therapeutics Research and Infectious Disease Epidemiology (TIDE).  TIDE is the home of several large, complex, multi-institutional research initiatives using real-world data (RWD) and distributed analytic approaches to support major national public health activities in collaboration with federal and industry funders.  Its mission is to improve health care delivery and population health through research and education, in partnership with health plans, delivery systems, and public health agencies.



This individual will serve as Chief Data Scientist for the FDA’s Sentinel Operations Center (, the nation’s largest distributed public health and research data network. Responsibilities include leading strategic planning and implementation of system architecture, data models, ontologies, and querying strategies.


In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration awarded a contract that may reach $220 million over a five-year cycle to the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute to continue to lead the Sentinel Operations Center and to develop a new Sentinel Innovation Center.  This contract builds on the Institute’s 10 years of experience developing and operating the Sentinel System, a national program that uses electronic health care data to monitor the safety of FDA-regulated drugs and other medical products. The addition of the Sentinel Innovation Center signals the FDA’s commitment to keeping the Sentinel System a robust and cutting-edge national resource. The Institute is partnering with over 60 technology, health care and academic organizations across the nation on this important undertaking.


The Chief Data Scientist will be a key player in helping define the Operations Center’s scientific strategy. In addition, this individual will also work closely within TIDE, which leads an array of multi-institutional research and public health initiatives, involving distributed analysis of administrative health claims data, registries, electronic health record (EHR) data, and patient-generated data, as well as direct outreach to clinicians and patients.  These initiatives may offer additional research opportunities depending on program needs and this individual’s interests. TIDE’s portfolio includes:


  • Partnership with HCA Healthcare, a 186-hospital network, to conduct large scale cluster-randomized clinical trials and observational studies;




  • Leadership of MDPHnet/ESPnet (, networks that provide real-time EHR-based surveillance of both infectious and chronic disease; and,


  • Leadership of multiple industry-funded research projects on medical product safety and effectiveness.


This individual will initiate and provide strategic guidance regarding informatics aspects of TIDE’s collaborative research focused on the use of RWD in support of pharmacoepidemiologic research, comparative effectiveness studies, public health surveillance, and health services research and practice.  They will engage the data science and medical bioinformatics community to ensure TIDE’s alignment with developing areas of research.  They will also oversee and guide a TIDE-wide data science, distributed querying, and software platform ecosystem to enable and advance scholarly endeavors.


Additional activities include:


  • Lead a portfolio of investigator-initiated research through extramural funding;


  • Collaborate with other TIDE and DPM faculty members, external partners, and external funders to expand the use of RWD;


  • Lead or participate in design or update of common data models, new tools and methods for extracting, standardizing, and analyzing various RWD sources for multi-site studies, including novel approaches for assessing data quality and completeness;


  • Architect the ecosystem roadmap, participate in all aspects of technical infrastructure, including assessment of internal and external dependencies across projects to identify efficiencies; and,


  • Identify and seek funding opportunities to advance the software and tools used to support our public health initiatives.


Clinicians may include part-time practice in their activities.  Joint appointment in a second Harvard Medical School department or another Harvard faculty such as the T.H. Chan School of Public Health may be appropriate.



The successful candidate will bring a strong track record of bioinformatics and data science research innovation within the life sciences, particularly as it pertains to compilation of unstructured patient data.  A demonstrated ability to prioritize and sort through a multitude of opportunities, knowledge of translational research, and familiarity with hospital and relevant corporate partners and their interests are viewed positively as well.  The individual must be capable of driving a portfolio of projects while fostering a culture of inclusion and collaboration both externally and internally.  The preferred candidate will likely have served a portion of their career in an academic setting as well as having been a leader in a research-oriented healthcare system or a growth-oriented biotechnology or biopharmaceutical company. 


The ideal candidate for this position will have the following qualifications:


  • Doctoral degree in biomedical informatics, data science, statistics, epidemiology, or other related fields;


  • Knowledge of current state of research and deployment of administrative data, electronic health records, and methods for obtaining and using patient generated data;


  • Demonstrated capacity for program development and leadership;


  • Proven ability to lead and work in multi-disciplinary teams;


  • A record of funded grant proposals;


  • A record of high-quality peer-reviewed publications; and,


  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills.


Strong candidates will communicate effectively in both written and oral presentations; possess outstanding interpersonal skills to gain the confidence and respect of a wide variety of constituents; and be able to inspire colleagues and staff to strive for excellence in research.  They will also reflect, through actions, words, and professional conduct, the qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, transparency, and a commitment to listening carefully and objectively.




Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute have retained Park Square Executive Search to assist in this search. Nominations, inquiries, and applications may be sent in confidence to:

Jonathan Fortescue, Ph.D., Managing Partner or

Kyle Meingast, Principal

+1 617 401 2991


The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute is committed to building and nurturing an inclusive professional community in which diversity is valued and every person feels they have a rightful place, are welcome and respected, and are supported in their endeavors. We welcome applications from members of groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences, people of all genders, veterans, and individuals with disabilities.


We are an equal opportunity employer, and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions or any other characteristic protected by law.