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Moneyball Medicine: MLB Data Analyst Paul DePodesta to Join Scripps

December 23, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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After helping lead an information revolution in Major League Baseball (MLB), data analyst Paul DePodesta is now joining the faculty of the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) where he will apply his skills to the emerging field of digital medicine.

STSI is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored consortium led by La Jolla, Calif.-based Scripps Health in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute. Through this research partnership, Scripps is aiming to improve the effort to translate wireless and genetic medical technologies into high-quality, cost-effective treatments and diagnostics for patients.

DePodesta is a Harvard economics graduate who rose to prominence when, as the assistant general manager (GM) to Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane, he used his knowledge of data analytics to fundamentally alter the way the team recruited players. His time with the Athletics was depicted in the film “Moneyball” through the fictional character Peter Brand, as played by actor Jonah Hill.

DePodesta will serve as an assistant professor of bioinformatics at STSI while maintaining his primary role as vice president of player development and scouting for the New York Mets. In baseball, he has incorporated in-depth statistical performance analysis, which in the sport is also referred to as sabermetrics, into player evaluation. His data-driven evidence-based approach has allowed many Major League teams to adjust their player selection strategies and improve overall team performance. At STSI, DePodesta will work on large medical data projects with the center’s analytics team, which is led by Ali Torkamani, Ph. D., associate professor and director of genome informatics.

“In disciplines as disparate as baseball, financial services, trucking and retail, people are realizing the power of data to help make better decisions,” DePodesta said in a press release statement. “Medicine is just beginning to explore this opportunity, but it faces many of the same barriers that existed in those other sectors –deeply held traditions, monolithic organizational and operational structures, and a psychological resistance to change.“Being part of the STSI faculty allows me to apply the things I’ve learned in baseball to a critical sector of our lives and our economy that is ripe for this kind of revolution,” he said.

Dr. Eric Topol, M.D., director of STSI, added, “Paul has had this amazing ability to take a field that was not assimilating what it could, and make it so much better, more precise and more predictive. We’re very excited about having him join our faculty at STSI and for him to interact with all of our informatics data scientists and get his outside view, and see if we can get the ‘Moneyball Medicine’ field going.”




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