O. Dale Williams
Florida International University Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
O. Dale Williams, MPH, PhD, FAHA, FSCT, is Professor and Chair of FIU’s Department of Biostatistics and Director of FIU’s Integrated Biostatistics and Data Management Center (IBDMC). He previously was Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) Division of Preventive Medicine. At UAB he directed the Division’s Multicenter Studies Coordinating Center and its Data, Information and Statistics Core, and also served as the PI for numerous NIH funded activities. Earlier he was Professor of Biostatistics at the University of North Carloina at Chapel Hill (UNC), Director of the Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center, and Director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. He has considerable experience with coordinating and providing infrastructure support for large, long term, multicenter clinical trials, cohort studies and practice-based networks. He also has extensive international experience as he was responsible for the implementation of projects in the USSR, Poland, China and Israel and was centrally involved in large projects coordinated by the World Health Organization. He continues to serve on review panels for NIH and on Data and Safety Monitoring Boards. At FIU, he leads the creation and operation of the Integrated Biostatistics and Data Management Center, which provides biostatistical, data management and data quality infrastructure support for investigators and students inside and outside FIU. He is the PI for the Strengthening Indian Non Communicable Disease Research and Training Capacity, a training program funded by the Fogarty International Center with the purpose of strengthening the research infrastructure for clinical and epidemiological research in India.
The fundamental purpose of health and medical research is to gain knowledge for actions and treatment decisions for improving health and medical outcomes for individuals, populations, communities and health care systems. Staying on the path to truth is a challenging endeavor that sometimes fails with catastrophic consequences, even under the best of circumstances. From its infancy, computing and information science have been directly involved in health and medical research in a role that continues to expand, perhaps exponentially. With the advent of genomics, medical imaging and big data, for example, the interaction between professionals in health and medicine and in computing and information science is becoming increasingly intense. The result of this interaction can lead to decisions for enormous benefit but also for harm. Thus, it is critical that investigators from these two broad realms continue to learn how best to work together, how to learn from each other, how best to identify, and to address successfully, critical issues. This talk will discuss briefly some of the challenges faced in the infancy of computing and information science in the context of health and medical research and then focuses on 1) the critical issues of strength of evidence, as evidenced when similar studies come to different conclusions, and 2) the critical role data quality plays or should play in the decision making process for important health and medical outcome driven actions.