Cool Job Alert: Johns Hopkins' precision medicine team is seeking a senior data scientist - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Cool Job Alert: Johns Hopkins’ precision medicine team is seeking a senior data scientist

Apply data skills to shape the future of healthcare. We caught up with senior product manager Sharon Penttinen to learn more about the tools involved, and the team's culture.

Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore.

(Photo courtesy of OLIN)

This is Cool Job Alert, a Technical.ly column where we feature interesting tech job openings from around the region. Got a posting you want to share? Email us at baltimore@technical.ly.


Talk about what words you associate with the technology being developed in Baltimore, and it’s often the case that health won’t be far behind software or data.

Still, a recent job description from Johns Hopkins’ health system stood out as being particularly oriented toward building the future: The Johns Hopkins Medicine Technology Innovation Center is seeking a senior data scientist to work on its precision medicine team.

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Sounds cool (hence, cool job alert). But, first, one question: What is precision medicine?

“Precision medicine uses the latest technology to measure disease characteristics so clinical researchers can identify patterns in groups of patients. The goal is to develop tailored and proactive treatment plans for individuals,” said Sharon Penttinen, senior product manager on the team. “By leveraging university-wide assets across several disciplines, our growing team is developing patient-level insights that will improve health care.”

So, a big change to healthcare that prioritizes personalized and early care. That’ll require new tools in hospitals and other care settings.

“We are building new tools and resources to make it easier for clinicians to successfully conduct big-data research and bring the results to their patients,” Penttinen said. “The goal is to derive value — lower cost of care, better patient outcomes, commercial potential, ground-breaking research — and push it out into the world.”

Johns Hopkins has developed a platform, called the Precision Medicine Analytics Platform, or PMAP, which serves as the key to accelerating the pace and impact of clinical research. The senior data scientist will work on this platform’s team “to define and build the analytical tools, environments, and infrastructure for operational research and analysis,” said Penttinen, adding that, “This position is also part of the data science team helping to translate new science into clinical practice across a range of health conditions.”

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As with many data scientists, the overall work here is to turn data into insights that can be used in decision making. Other responsibilities, said Penttinen, “include providing data that is congruent and reliable, proposing innovative ways to look at problems by mining available data, and mentoring analytics staff on tools and frameworks.”

The team is a group of designers, developers, project managers, business and clinical leaders. Penttinen describes the team culture as creative, collaborative and energetic. They’re also passionate about the work to improve healthcare.

We asked Penttinen about what’s not in the job description that might make someone successful. She sent over the following:

  • Challenge what’s usual — take initiative, be relentless, and stay curious.
  • Thrive in an interdisciplinary team-based environment. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and enjoy a collaborative environment with lots of whiteboards and Post-It notes.
  • Are motivated by knowing your work is improving patients’ lives and making health systems function better.
  • Value the mission over margin and seek to find like-minded people to spend your days with (remotely or in-person).
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