• Faces of AMIA

    John Sharp, MSSA

    AMIA is the only organization that focuses specifically on informatics from an academic and research perspective...

John Sharp, MSSA

Education: BA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio; MSSA, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio

How I describe my work to those outside the field…

I support medical research through information technology. This enables researchers to perfect certain treatments. I use data from the electronic medical record to help researchers evaluate treatments and understand diseases and conditions. In my role as manager of research informatics at the Cleveland Clinic, I supervise about 20 people, most of whom are database programmers. They create databases that are web forms to help collect and manage research data so that the researchers can then use and analyse those data.

Years of experience…

I’ve been in health care IT for 12 years and in my current role for 3 and a half of those years.

Why informatics?

Primarily my shift from just information technology to informatics came about so that my work would have a more direct impact on the future of medicine, particularly enabling research that will ultimately change how medicine is practiced and also enhance the discovery of new drugs and devices to improve health.

What are your ambitions? At the end of your career, what do you hope to have accomplished?

I aspire to leadership nationally in informatics. I think we are doing unique projects that are on the level of other large academic medical centers in the research area, and particularly on the use of electronic medical records in research. I want to contribute to the field through publications, books, and presentations at conferences. I hope this would lead to improving health care by enhancing both the quality of research through informatics but also the speed at which research can be done through information technology. I would also look for more international opportunities as well. I already have a working relationship with some health professionals in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands, and I’d like to see that expand and have the opportunity to teach others from other countries about the potential for informatics in enhancing clinical research.

Who or what are your key sources in the informatics field?

AMIA as an organization, it’s journal and other publications, as well as HIMSS – the Health Care Information Management and Systems Society. I’m also involved in the CTSA, the Clinical Translational Science Awards from the NIH. That is becoming a major influence and offers me a significant opportunity for participation on the national level. Also, as co-director of bioinformatics for the Cleveland CTSA. I get the opportunity to collaborate locally with our 3 hospitals and medical school in the Cleveland area and then on the national level an opportunity to interact, learn and also contribute to national meetings and national interest committees in specialty areas in informatics, particularly research informatics. Another important influence is the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Information Resources Leadership Institute.

Articles that spotlight my research interests…

My other interest is the use of social media and health care so I’ve written some on that as well:

AMIA is important to me because…

It’s the only organization that focuses specifically on informatics from an academic and research perspective and because there’s a group within AMIA that focuses on clinical research informatics, which is my day to day work. Attending the conferences each gives me a chance to be with like-minded people. It’s my social network, in a way, my peers in the field and also the people who obviously are farther in their careers, who I can learn from.

I am involved with AMIA…

I’ve presented at the AMIA annual conference in the fall and posters and given presentations at the Clinical Research Informatics Summit in March. I’m also part of the Clinical Research Informatics Working Group and the Consumer Informatics Working Group. I am an abstract reviewer for the annual symposium.

It may surprise people to know…

I am an amateur astronomer. I’ve been interested in astronomy since I was 12. A friend of mine got me interested and I got my first telescope and it just took off from there. I observe planets, galaxies and nebula, and I also attend lectures at the Natural History Museum here in Cleveland. I enjoy visiting observatories around the country, like the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona and the Palomar Observatory in California.

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