James O’Malley, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Data Science
Professor of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice
Past Director, Quantitative Biomedical Sciences

Overview of research interests
My methodological research interests center on social network analysis, causal inference, and multivariate-hierarchical modeling. I develop new statistical methods, often with novel use of Bayesian statistics at the intersection of two or more of these areas, to solve important methodological and applied problems in health policy, health services research, social science and more recently the biological sciences. Real world problems include the diffusion of medical technologies, the evaluation of medical treatments or devices, comparative effective analysis, and the assessment of quality of care. A feature of my work is that problems are viewed from multiple lenses including statistical, health policy, medical, epidemiological and sociological perspectives in order to optimally formulate the statistical problem.

In your opinion, what is the relevance and significance of QBS's mission and training to scientific advancement in both industry and academia?
An important feature of the QBS program is that students learn both traditional research techniques and modern “investigative” methods for finding data sources to help them solve unique real-world problems. Even the most theoretically-inclined students work on problems of real import and have the opportunity to become experts in content areas (e.g., genetics, cancer, health policy and health services). Students become sophisticated communicators in the language of their collaborators, which is a vital skill to acquire for academia and industry. The QBS program is very responsive to recent trends towards interdisciplinary training and prepares students to be able to adapt towards future trends beyond their time in the program. The learning and personal growth that takes place during the program extends beyond that obtainable from courses and short-term projects and includes thinking outside the box in order to solve problems. The job-market experience of our first Ph.D. graduates confirms that the QBS Ph.D. is a catalyst to obtaining key positions in industry or government as well as to an academic position in a university or research institute.

QBS MS in Health Data Science
The QBS Health Data Science master’s degree provides a rigorous training to prepare students to work as a professional data scientist in industry, particularly in health and health care. It may be used as a stepping stone to a Ph.D. program, including ours. However, it is specifically geared towards careers in industry through a Capstone project and internship possibilities. Despite the program still being a few months shy of its start date, we have already established a number of important industry partnerships.

QBS MS in Epidemiology
The QBS Epidemiology masters is unique for its focus on molecular and quantitative epidemiology as opposed to general epidemiology. The unusually high methodological rigor of the QBS Epidemiology masters program is an important asset of the program that we envisage being beneficial to graduates in the short- and long-term.  All too often epidemiological studies suffer from the use of over-simplistic or errant quantitative analyses. Our program is well-positioned to trained students to avoid making such mistakes.