Massive amounts of data now available to researchers and clinicians offer the promise of reaching new insights and delivering higher-quality patient care – if the data can be analyzed.
Informatics involves the use of technology to make data accessible, meaningful and timely. The University of Missouri-Kansas City, in collaboration with Children’s Mercy, has hired Mark Hoffman, PhD, to lead a new Center for Health Insights focused on informatics.
Hoffman is a nationally recognized expert on the integration of genetic information with electronic health records and in the development of technologies to enable clinical research. Before joining UMKC, Hoffman was a Vice President at Cerner, where he worked for 16 years leading initiatives in genomics, personalized medicine, public health and clinical research.
“Mark Hoffman brings to UMKC and Children’s Mercy a myriad of valuable skills, knowledge and experience in the areas of bioinformatics, genomics and medical records analysis,” said Lawrence Dreyfus, UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development. “He joins us at precisely the right moment as our institutions are poised to move closer together around the critical issues of genomic diagnostics, pharmacogemonic-based therapies and personalized medicine. We are thrilled that Mark will be leading our informatics efforts on those fronts.”
On Nov. 5, Jackson County voters will decide on a half-cent sales tax that would raise more than $800 million in 20 years for an institute for translational medicine. Translational medicine takes new knowledge discovered in laboratories and coverts them into cures and treatments for patients. UMKC, Children’s Mercy, Saint Luke’s Health System and the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute would be partners in the institute. Informatics are a key component of translational research and Hoffman’s hiring and the new Center will help UMKC and Children’s Mercy better position themselves.
Hoffman will work with UMKC biomedical researchers and clinicians to help them utilize cutting-edge informatics technologies to enhance and accelerate their work. He has joined the faculty in the UMKC School of Medicine as an associate professor in the departments of Biomedical and Health Informatics and Pediatrics.
“We are pleased about the addition of Mark Hoffman to our faculty,” said Betty Drees, Dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “Informatics are a strength of the School. UMKC with Saint Luke’s Health System are world leaders in heart-disease outcomes research that delivers personalized medicine. Mark’s experience and skills will translate into the highest quality patient care and research.”
While at Cerner, Hoffman remained active in the scientific community and participated in National Institutes of Health task forces, workshops and panels. He is also an inventor on 14 issued patents owned by Cerner.
Hoffman graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in molecular biology from William Jewell College and a Doctor of Philosophy in bacteriology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hoffman’s connection to UMKC began in 1989 when he was a research assistant in the School of Basic Life Sciences. He also had been an adjunct professor since 2004 in UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to join UMKC and our clinical partners as we work together to seek innovative applications of informatics in order to improve health care in Jackson County and beyond,” Hoffman said.
“I view research as seeking answers to medical mysteries. Anything we can do to accelerate the process of answering difficult questions is a positive step for Jackson County and for healthcare. Once a mystery has been solved, we are equally obligated to develop and use those insights in clinical practice.”
“As a parent, I am particularly excited about the opportunity to work closely with the clinicians and researchers at Children’s Mercy. Many of the most exciting innovations in informatics began in pediatric settings, and Children’s Mercy is gaining global recognition for their work in pediatric genomics.”
Michael Artman, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Joyce C. Hall Endowed Chair at the UMKC School of Medicine and Pediatrician-in-Chief at Children’s Mercy, said the hiring of Hoffman comes at the right time.
“Mark Hoffman brings important skills and experience to Children’s Mercy,” Artman said. “We are excited about the opportunity to work with Mark to apply informatics to connect our patient care and research missions.”