Marzyeh Ghassemi: From MIT and Google to the Department of Medicine

Sep 10, 2018
Kaveh Shojania and Trevor Jamieson
Marzyeh GhassemiIn a first for the Department of Medicine, we have partnered with Computer Science to recruit Dr. Marzyeh Ghassemi following her PhD in Computer Science from MIT and a post-doctoral fellowship at Google. Her appointments will be jointly in the Departments of Medicine and Computer Science, as well as the Vector Institute.

Ghassemi comes to us as a rising star out of MIT, having been named one of the Top 35 ‘Innovators under 35’. Her research focuses on using machine learning algorithms to leverage healthcare data to make better clinical decisions and to predict things like the length of patient hospital stays or whether they will need interventions such as blood transfusions or ventilators. Locally, she will be doing this work through her Machine Learning for Health (ML4H) lab, and she has already started collaborating  with clinical research and quality improvement-oriented faculty to test and refine her ideas.

Ghassemi’s position came as a result of a growing formal partnership between Computer Science and Medicine over the past three years.  Through this relationship, we have created a local Digital Health Advisory Committee, chaired by Drs. Kaveh Shojania and Trevor Jamieson. This group has coordinated two successful symposia aimed at charting a course for the University in the rapidly growing and increasingly recognized Toronto innovation ecosystem. Our most recent event in March 2018 welcomed Dr. Michael Blum, the executive director of the Center for Digital Health Innovation at UCSF, as our special guest sharing his learnings on their past five years of academic innovation. Despite still being based at Google at the time, Ghassemi also made the trip from California for the event and presented an exciting and very well-received overview of her work.

This growing collaboration between Medicine and Computer Science provided part of the context for bringing together a consortium of partners which successfully bid for a $2M Center of Excellence in Digital Health Benefits Evaluation in February of this year. Dr. Ghassemi will play a valuable role in this work as we attempt to understand how best to bring to bear machine learning techniques on large datasets for research purposes, as well as many potential applications to healthcare decision-making.  

We are excited and delighted to have Ghassemi join our department. Welcome from us all.