Background and Focus

Radical transformation is required in the US healthcare system to promote more effective and affordable approaches to personalized medicine and population health. For several decades, healthcare costs have outgrown the overall economy, yet health remains suboptimal, and the number of people with multiple chronic conditions continues to escalate. Life expectancy has also declined for three years in a row compared to other developed countries. The NIH-Wide Strategic Plan (2016-2020) indicated that our nation and the world stand at a unique moment of opportunity in biomedical research, and that data science is an integral contributor. The generation of massive, rich data sets in healthcare (e.g., electronic health records, genomic data, etc.) and the emergence of advanced information and computational technologies — collectively referred to as “Big Data analytics” — offer an invaluable opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare.

The mission of the BDHSC is to be an innovation-driven enterprise that can facilitate and accelerate a sustained, high-caliber transformation of the university into a global leader in Big Data health science with the following foreseeable impacts: improving and enhancing USC’s 1) institutional culture for interdisciplinary collaboration; 2) efficiency of existing resource utilization; 3) national and international reputation and visibility; and 4) educational outcomes by fostering a new generation of data scientists in healthcare research.

Funded by the Excellence Initiative, the USC BDHSC has over 50 affiliated faculty/staff coming from 9 diverse schools/units and 20 departments including: Arnold School of Public Health; College of Engineering and Computer; College of Arts and Science;  College of Information and Communication;  College of Nursing; College of Pharmacy; Darla Moore School of Business; School of Medicine-Columbia; School of Medicine-Greenville; University Libraries; and Technology Commercialization Office.

The diversity of BDHSC affiliates is a key factor in its ability to approach health-related problems in innovative ways. The collaborative, campus-wide approach BDHSC takes encourages an interdisciplinary spirit by engaging faculty across campus and using research methods and theoretical frameworks across disciplines. This culture of collaboration works to expand Big Data health science research which has historically been siloed and allows BDHSC to address multiple areas of research, governance, and practice. The result is a leveraging of Big Data to address important healthcare questions together.