About our department
The department, lead by Johan van der Lei, has two complementary lines of research and a line dedicated to teaching.
- The Health Data Science group, led by Peter Rijnbeek, enables data-driven healthcare by improving interoperability of data and building analytical pipelines for characterization, population-level effect estimation, and patient-level prediction at a global scale.
- The Observational Data Analysis group, led by Katia Verhamme, focuses on the use of observational data to address real-world challenges in the drug safety domain, with an emphasis on combining databases from different countries.
- The Education group, led by Peter Moorman, participates in the training of medical doctors, clinical technicians, and medical specialists.
Collaboration with other departments in the Erasmus MC provides us with opportunities to combine our methodological research with clinical challenges. We partner, for example, with the Department of General Practice to collect and analyze routine data from primary care and enrich data from primary care with environmental data such as air pollution. We collaborate with the Department of Epidemiology to address drug safety issues by combining the analysis of observational data created in routine care with the analysis of detailed data, including images and genetic data, prospectively collected in large population-based cohorts. We work with the Department of Pediatrics to focus on the acute care setting (triage) and study the management of children with asthma.
The department is involved in teaching medical students at the Erasmus MC. We want to prepare medical students for a future in which information technology and data science will have an ever-growing impact on medical practice. To understand the possible advantages of information technology, students need to understand the process that creates scientific knowledge. Students also need to appreciate the challenges they face when translating results from studies to day-to-day care.
The Department of Medical Informatics has a rich interdisciplinary background (e.g., medical doctors, electronical engineers, physicists, econometrists, epidemiologists, toxicologists, informaticians, and statisticians) and comes from a broad spectrum of countries (e.g., the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, England, Spain, India, China, Germany, etc.). This diversity is a big asset and stimulates interactions across cultures and disciplines.
We coordinated the European EU-ADR project that pioneered distributed data analysis in the domain of drug safety research. With regulatory authorities, such as the European Medicine Agency, the Dutch Medicine Evaluation Board, and the pharmaceutical industry, we continue to develop and improve methodologies for drug safety studies. We perform Post Authorization Safety Studies (PASS studies) with our academic partners in the EU-ADR Alliance, as well as other studies requested by regulatory authorities.
A key challenge in federated analysis in a heterogeneous environment is the need to harmonize data. We coordinated the European Medical Information Framework (EMIF) project (through the Innovative Medicines Initiative), which created opportunities for the use of the OMOP Common Data Model in an open science framework (the OHDSI community). We are the European home of this world-wide OHDSI community (www.ohdsi-europe.org). Furthermore, we are the coordinator of the European Health Data and Evidence Network (EHDEN), a project that aims to build a federated data network standardized to the OMOP Common Data Model (www.ehden.eu).