Eneida A. Mendonca, M.D., Ph.D., a pioneer in employing natural language processing — a major subfield of artificial intelligence — to improve health and healthcare delivery, has been chosen for the newly created position of vice president for research development at the Regenstrief Institute.
Dr. Mendonca also will have an appointment as professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, with a secondary appointment as a professor of biostatistics.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Mendonca to Regenstrief in this new leadership role to steer our robust research enterprise,” said Peter Embi, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Regenstrief. “Her expertise and vision in both applied research and research development will enable us to leverage the institute’s current research strengths to be even more proactive in addressing local, national and global health challenges.”
As the institute’s vice president for research development, she will build upon and enhance the successes of the institute’s faculty investigators across biomedical informatics, health services research, aging research and implementation science.
“The creation of this vice presidency comes at a crucial time in Regenstrief’s history,” Dr. Embi continued. “We are positioning the institute to expand upon its half century of dynamic, impactful research to connect and innovate for better health. This means integrating research discovery, technological advances, and systems enhancement to confront today’s and tomorrow’s health and health-system challenges, such as overcoming addiction and improving mental health, enhancing quality of care across the life span, and developing novel approaches to leverage data and technology to improve health and health care.”
Dr. Mendonca comes to Regenstrief from the University of Wisconsin where she has served as an associate professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, and in the Department of Pediatrics. She also has held an affiliate appointment in the College of Engineering’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and, in 2017, was elected to the UW-Madison faculty senate.
She received a medical degree from the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil and a Ph.D. in biomedical informatics from Columbia University in New York. She is a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Children and adolescents as populations have different health care needs than adults, which presents many challenges. Use of health information technology, data analytics and the tools of health services research are paramount to understanding these distinct health care needs and producing actionable insights,” said Wade Clapp, M.D., chair of the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. “We welcome Dr. Mendonca to our department and look forward to benefiting from her many clinical and research experiences and innovations as well as the accomplishments ahead. Her focus at the junction of pediatrics and health information technology positions her particularly well to play an important and unique role in improving the care of children and adolescents.”
Dr. Mendonca’s research focuses on developing novel language-driven approaches and automated learning methods to support decision making; exploiting automated semantic and statistical methods to extract biomedical data from patient records, creating new ways to automatically integrate evidence into clinical practice; and improving infrastructure for health care and clinical research. She has been involved in many federally funded grant projects, including a $3.9 million National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) study, and the Children’s Respiratory Research and Environment Workgroup (CREW), where she uses informatics tools to harmonize data among several large cohorts, combining several sources of data, including clinical data, social determinants of health, behavior and biological markers, among others. She is also one of the principal investigators of a new proposal to develop user-friendly systems that help better engage participants for enrollment in research studies. Dr. Mendonca also has served in multiple national leadership roles, including as chair of the NIH’s Biomedical Computing and Health Informatics (BCHI) study section and on the Board of Directors for the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). Dr. Mendonca was recently appointed as the chair to the most prestigious conference in biomedical informatics, AMIA Annual Symposium 2020.
“Today’s research atmosphere is stimulating and there’s a plethora of opportunities,” said Dr. Mendonca. “I am excited to be joining organizations of the caliber of Regenstrief Institute and the IU School of Medicine. It’s incumbent upon institutions such as these and their research scientists to identify problems, ask difficult questions, discern the best means to solve each problem, find and test answers and ultimately implement evidence-based solutions into clinical practice.”
Vice president for research development is one of three additional strategic leadership positions that Regenstrief is establishing as it enters its sixth decade. Aaron Carroll, M.D., was named vice president for faculty development in late 2018. The search process for a vice president for business development, another key leadership position, is being finalized.
Regenstrief investigators conduct pioneering research to produce applied, scalable solutions at the intersection of clinical medicine, population health, technology, academia and industry for Indiana, the nation and the world.