A big leaguer is headed for academia.
Paul DePodesta, the assistant general manager for the Oakland Athletics between 1998 and 2004, is bringing his statistical prowess to Scripps Translational Science Institute, where he’ll serve as an assistant professor of bioinformatics.
DePodesta, who had a fictional character based on him in the 2011 film “Moneyball,” will juggle his new position with his primary role as vice president of player development and scouting for the New York Mets. His method for recruiting players using data analytics revolutionized the way managers approach teambuilding. His fictional counterpart, Peter Brand, was played by Jonah Hill.
“In disciplines as disparate as baseball, financial services, trucking and retail, people are realizing the power of data to help make better decisions,” DePodesta said. “Medicine is just beginning to explore this opportunity, but it faces many of the same barriers that existed in those other sectors—deeply held traditions, monolithic organizational and operational structures, and a psychological resistance to change.”
DePodesta will work with the Scripps Translational Science Institute’s analytics team, led by Ali Torkomani, an associate professor and director of genome informatics. Examples of the teams previous work includes The Molecular Autopsy Study, which attempts to identify genes responsible for sudden and unexplained deaths through analysis of DNA of those whose deaths cannot be medically explained currently, and The GIRAFFE Study, which attempts to identify genetic mutations associated with atrial fibrillation.
“Paul brings a valuable outsider’s perspective to medicine that will help make the field more precise and more predictive through the analysis of the vast amount of individualized data now being collected through genetic testing, wireless sensors, and other technologies,” said Eric Topol, the director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute. “We are excited to have him work with our informatics data scientists to jumpstart the ‘Moneyball’ of medicine.”
Topol and DePodesta first connected after DePodesta read Topol’s book “The Patient Will See You Now.” A subsequent lunch was scheduled, but the initially planned one-hour affair turned into a three-and-half hour discussion regarding how big data and healthcare intersect.
DePodesta will join the Scripps Translational Science Institute faculty on Jan. 1.