Appointment of Marylyn D. Ritchie, PhD, as Director of the Institute for Biomedical Informatics and VP for Research Informatics

January 31, 2022

To:PSOM Faculty and Staff

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, EVP/Dean
Jon Epstein, MD, EVD/CSO
Kevin B. Mahoney, UPHS CEO

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Marylyn D. Ritchie, PhD, as Director of the Institute for Biomedical Informatics (IBI) at the Perelman School of Medicine and Vice President for Research Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Dr. Ritchie is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and served previously as IBI Associate Director for Bioinformatics. She is also Director of the Center for Translational Bioinformatics and Associate Director of the Penn Center for Precision Medicine. Dr. Ritchie succeeds Jason Moore, PhD, as the new IBI Director. Her appointment takes effect immediately.

Dr. Ritchie is a pioneering statistical and computational geneticist with a focus on understanding genetic architecture of complex human disease.  She has expertise in developing novel bioinformatics tools for complex analysis of big data in genetics, genomics, and clinical databases, in particular in the area of pharmacogenomics. Dr. Ritchie joined the Penn faculty in 2017, from the Geisinger Health System, where she was the Chief Research Informatics Officer and Director of Biomedical and Translational Informatics Institute. Before joining Geisinger in 2015, Dr. Ritchie was the Paul Berg Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pennsylvania State University. She began her independent faculty career at Vanderbilt University, where she was appointed as an Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics after earning her PhD in statistical genetics in 2004.

Dr. Ritchie has more than 15 years of scholarly and administrative experience in the analysis of complex data. She has authored more than 350 papers, which have appeared in the leading journals in her field. In keeping with her impact, she has received numerous awards and honors, including selection as a Genome Technology Rising Young Investigator in 2006, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2010, and a KAVLI Frontiers of Science fellow by the National Academy of Science from 2011 to 2014. She was also  named one of the most highly cited researchers in her field by Thomas Reuters in 2014 and was elected as a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) in 2020. To underscore her impact, Dr. Ritchie was elected this year to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in health and medicine. 

Established in 2015 to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, the IBI comprises more than 70 laboratories with a wide range of biomedical and clinical research focuses. Through its programs and services, IBI develops innovative computational methods for artificial intelligence, data integration, data mining, machine learning, and natural language processing and facilitates the retrieval and integration of clinical, basic science, population, and health outcomes data to generate new ideas and accelerate discovery.

Dr. Ritchie has articulated an exciting and highly collaborative vision for IBI’s future, including working with clinical departments to recruit clinical informatics faculty and developing innovative approaches to leverage EHR data. Key priorities include developing a robust and accessible informatics infrastructure to support the Penn Medicine BioBank, ImmuneHealth, and future precision health initiatives, as well as collaborating with the Office of Clinical Research and the health system to improve the use of clinical data and biobank specimens/data for basic scientists and clinical researchers.  In order to develop more efficient informatics pipelines and workflows, IBI will work with the Penn Center for Precision Medicine, Penn Center for Health Care Innovation, and the Center for Applied Health Informatics. In terms of its teaching mission, IBI will develop additional educational programs for PhD students in collaboration with the Genomics and Computational Biology graduate group and clinical informatics fellowship training for MDs in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Medical Information Officer.

In her position as VP for Informatics Research, Dr. Ritchie will co-chair the Senior IT Council and help to facilitate research across Penn Medicine related to the use of medical informatics and the EHR.  She will also work collaboratively with Penn Medicine leadership to help to incorporate innovative approaches and new discoveries related to informatics into practice across the system.

We are grateful to Dan Rader, MD, and the internal Search Committee for their thorough work in identifying Dr. Ritchie as the next IBI Director. Please join us in congratulating her on her appointment and supporting her in her new role.