Newswise — LOS ANGELES (June 1, 2022) -- Graciela Gonzalez-Hernandez, PhD, has been named vice chair of Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Computational Biomedicine. In this position, Gonzalez-Hernandez will focus on collaborating with investigators across the Cedars-Sinai Health System and expanding Cedars-Sinai’s artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities.

Gonzalez-Hernandez joins Cedars-Sinai from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on natural language processing–using complex algorithms to pull meaningful data from unstructured written text, such as social media, or notes within electronic health records.  

“Dr. Gonzalez-Hernandez is a pioneer in her field,” said Jason H. Moore, PhD, chair of the Department of Computational Biomedicine and acting professor of Medicine. “She was one of the first investigators to use natural language processing methods to mine social media data and received one of the first grants from the National Institutes of Health on the topic.”

Gonzalez-Hernandez’s work is applicable to a wide range of disciplines and can be used to find data for groups, like pregnant women, who are not generally included in clinical trials. It can also help find data on topics like patients who fail to take their medications as prescribed, a phenomenon that is thought to be underreported.

“This is a good way to get more data in areas where there is sparse information,” Gonzalez-Hernandez said.

Gonzalez-Hernandez became interested in the field at an early age–she learned computer programming in fourth grade. She earned her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and PhD from the University of Texas at El Paso. Prior to her role at the University of Pennsylvania, Gonzalez-Hernandez helped launch the Biomedical Informatics Department at Arizona State University.

She will be joined by three senior scientists: Davy Weissenbacher, PhD; Arjun Magge, PhD; and Ivan Flores, all recognized experts in natural language processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The Department of Computational Biomedicine also recently welcomed Jesse Meyer, PhD, a bioinformatics and computational biology investigator within the Van Eyk Laboratory team, whose work focuses on the analysis of genomics and proteomics data; Ruowang Li, PhD, a translational bioinformatics investigator with expertise in integrating genomics data with electronic health record data; and Ryan Urbanowicz, PhD, an artificial intelligence and machine learning investigator who works to develop leading-edge artificial intelligence algorithms and software.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Graduate Students Are Using AI in Medical Imaging