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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Harvard bioinformatics leader leaving

By Elizabeth Cooney, Globe Correspondent

Another biomedical informatics leader is leaving Harvard to head a new department in the Sun Belt.

robert%20greenes100.bmpDr. Robert A. Greenes (left), a Harvard Medical School radiology professor and program director of a Harvard-MIT training program in medical informatics, is joining Arizona State University, whose faculty teaches medical students at the new Phoenix branch of the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

He will chair the Phoenix-based department of biomedical informatics in ASU's School of Computing and Informatics, which was founded last year as part of the School of Engineering.

Greenes is leaving Brigham and Women's Hospital, where in 1980 he established the Decision Systems Group.

His departure follows the move in July by Stephen Wong, who took about 20 researchers with him when he left for The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston to create a bioinformatics program there.

"Bob got a wonderful professional opportunity," Dr. Steven Seltzer, chief of radiology at the Brigham, said in an interview today. "They have money and they have space, so it's exciting."

The departures by Greenes and Wong are "bittersweet" transitions that Harvard monitors, he said.

"Our institution is blessed with more than its fair share of resources and part of our mission in life is to help populate the world with folks who are leaders in American medicine," Seltzer said. "Having said that, we still need to retain our highly qualified faculty and when we lose any faculty member, even if for a unique opportunity, it is a bittersweet outcome for us. We monitor as carefully as we can with any faculty attrition we have, how much is for, a 'good' reason, like moving to a nice opportunity, and how much is for a bad reason, that we are not competitive [in] either compensation or other resources."

In a statement from ASU announcing his appointment, Greenes said he was influenced by "the substantial planning efforts and resources already devoted to ASU's biomedical informatics program."

"I'm impressed by the eagerness at all levels of the university, especially its leadership, and among its partners, the University of Arizona, and other Arizona health and biomedical science institutions, to create a top-notch biomedical informatics program," Greenes said. He was traveling today and did not immediately return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

Greenes is not taking members of the Decision Systems Group with him to Arizona, Seltzer said. Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado will succeed him as director of the group.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 02:44 PM
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