Scripps Translational Science Institute has dipped into Major League Baseball's talent pool.
Economist Paul DePodesta, a Harvard graduate, will join the San Diego-based STSI as an assistant professor of bioinformatics.
DePodesta is the former assistant general manager of the Oakland Athletics. He used data analytics to transform the way MLB teams scout players. Actor Jonah Hill portrayed DePodesta, who went by the name Peter Brand in the 2011 film “Moneyball.”
STSI is a National Institute of Health-sponsored collaboration of the Scripps Research Institute that uses digital technology and data sharing to individualize healthcare.
“Paul brings a valuable outsider's perspective to medicine that will help make the field more precise and more predictive through the analysis of the vast amounts of individualized data now being collected through genetic testing, wireless sensors and other technologies,” said Dr. Eric Topol, director of STSI. “We are excited to have him work with our informatics data scientists to jump-start the 'Moneyball' of medicine.”
At STSI, DePodesta will work with an analytics team to conduct large medical data projects that explore myriad diseases and medical conditions. One study, the Molecular Autopsy Study, searches for genes associated with sudden, unexplained deaths in adults, children and infants. The GIRAFFE Study identifies genetic mutations associated with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.
DePodesta is expected to start at STSI on Jan. 1, but he will keep his role as vice president of player development and scouting for the New York Mets, the organization he joined in November 2010. In addition to the Mets, he also has worked in the front office of the San Diego Padres, as well as other MLB clubs.
In a press release announcing DePodesta's new role, STSI states that he first connected with Dr. Topol last summer after reading his book “The Patient Will See You Now.” DePodesta e-mailed Topol and said he was "struck by the parallels between baseball and medicine, and was looking to apply his skills and knowledge to a field with global impact." A scheduled one-hour lunch turned into a three and a half hour discussion about analytics and healthcare, according to the release.