Research Cores
& Hubs

The BDHSC consists of five content cores (Electornic Health Records, Genomics, Bio-Nanomaterial, Geospatial, and Social Media) and two functional hubs (Technology and Business/Entrepreneurship) that aim to collectively promote the utlization of Big Data analytics in healthcare research, services improvement and academic training. The combination of BDHSC Cores and Hubs represents a paradigm shift from traditional academic research to a focus on engagement and collaboration between academia, industry and community. 

Electronic Health Records Core

About the Core

The EHR Core is the main gateway to leverage massive amounts of rich individualized patient information contained in electronic medical records for clinical, translational, and patient-centered outcomes research. The core is positioned to build on growing capabilities for data interoperability and data sharing across disparate systems, including access, integration, analysis and interpretation of patient generated data, remote devices, imaging data, economic data, social determinants data, and other potential sources. The EHR core works closely with the other cores to develop, support, and disseminate accessible and efficient methods and tools for advanced data management, integration, analysis, and visualization. The core is also responsible for ensuring the protection and privacy of patient data in compliance with HIPAA and the appropriate us of data for research and improvements in quality of care. 

Jiajia Zhang, Ph.D.

Jiajia Zhang, Ph.D.

Co-Lead

Dr. Jiajia Zhang’s research focuses on investigating the association between the mortality/incidence of a disease with its potential risk factors using survival analysis. 

Nick Patel, Ph.D.

Nick Patel, Ph.D.

Co-Lead

Genomics Core

About the Core

The primary objective of the Genomics Core is to provide the necessary infrastructure and resources to faculty and students across UofSC to ignite and sustain comprehensive multidisciplinary genomic research. In collaboration with the Technology Hub, this core will utilize the existing High-Performance Computing facility at UofSC in order to satisfy its computational needs for comprehensive analysis of genomic data including De Novo and template-based assembly of genome/transcriptome, differential gene expression, meta genomics, phylogenetic identification of pathogens, modeling of RNA/protein binding, SNP analysis, and modeling of genomic mutations. In addition to physically extant USC services, the Genomics Core may work with other off campus entities (e.g., HSSC, CCI, VA hospital, or any other national/international data repositories). The Genomic Core is committed to the training and fostering of the future generation of a multidisciplinary workforce. The scientific workforce of the future should represent multifaceted capabilities that are difficult to develop under the traditional single curriculum classwork. The Genomic Core actively pursues opportunities in training of students, staff scientists, and faculty in the broad area of omics-analyses.

Homayoun Valafar, Ph.D.

Homayoun Valafar, Ph.D.

Core Lead

Dr. Valafar’s research activities fall into two broad categories of research: Computational Medicine and Computational Biology. 

Bio-Nanomaterials Core 

About the Core

The mission of the Bio-Nanomaterials Core is to leverage the expertise and resources at USC in biomaterials and nanomaterials, and to link the Big Data platform with biomaterials and nanomaterials to accelerate the design and discovery of novel bio- nanomaterials to improve health. Big Data application in bio-nanomaterials is unexplored territory, offering an unprecedented opportunity for UofSC to initiate and pioneer in this area. Biomimetic nanosized scaffolds for tissue engineering, and nanomaterials for drug delivery and biomedicine are just a few examples in which Big Data will revolutionize bio-nanomaterials research and development. With Big Data supports and using data mining and data analytics in nanomaterials and biomaterials, we are expecting to significantly accelerate the process to design and discover bio-nanomaterials for healthcare applications. The Bio-Nanomaterials Core aims to foster the collaborative research activities in the forefront of biomaterials and nanomaterials sciences. Some ongoing research projects include: using the big data approach to develop bionanopore-based de novo protein/peptide sequencing techniques for clinical point-of-care applications; developing automation method to investigate cellular responses to different nanomaterials; nanomaterial catalyst for clean and environmental-friendly energy conversion and storage; and developing a rationale design platform for disease-modifying nanoparticles.

Qian Wang, Ph.D.

Qian Wang, Ph.D.

Core Co-Lead

Dr. Qian’s research aims to build
three-dimensional programmable scaffolds that mimic native extracellular matrices and can be used to probe cellular activities.

Franglin (Frank) Chen, Ph.D.

Franglin (Frank) Chen, Ph.D.

Core Co-Lead

Dr. Chen’s research interests include synthesis and characterization of materials for energy conversion and storage, among others

Geospatial Core 

About the Core

The mission of the Big Data Health Science Center Geospatial Core is to conduct cutting-edge geospatial research and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) science and provide training in the use of GIS, spatial analytics, and other technologies to enhance multidisciplinary health-related research in South Carolina. Innovative research is taking place within the Geospatial Core. Our investigators are currently conducting funded research to quantify the impact of residential location on health outcomes, harness social media data to monitor health trends, identify geographic pockets of social vulnerability and resilience, detect disease outbreaks, and describe trends in access to health care services. Members of the Geospatial Core have diverse content expertise to share with your team. We offer hands-on help and consultation to incorporate GIS and spatial analytics into your business strategy, research project or grant, or data system. Our faculty can also assist your team with spatial data collection, management, analysis and dissemination strategies. The Geospatial Core hosts seminars, courses, and workshops on GIS and spatial analytics for investigators and trainees across a broad range of disciplines. Check the Events tab for more information and future event dates. Contact our Director for course-related listings offered on the UofSC campus.

Jan Eberth, Ph.D.

Jan Eberth, Ph.D.

Core Director

Dr. Eberth’s research focuses on understanding the distribution and causes of health and health care disparities, with the larger goal of identifying policy- and systems-level solutions to make health equity a reality. 

Whitney Zahnd, Ph.D.

Whitney Zahnd, Ph.D.

Core Co-Director

Dr. Zahnd utilizes social epidemiologic, spatial, and health services research methods to address rural and geographic disparities across the cancer control continuum. She has a particular interest in reducing cancer disparities among rural minority populations.

Social Media Core 

About the Core

The Social Media Core aims to lead the transformation of current social science and health research at UofSC by integrating data science and social media analysis to understand health issues and human behavior. This core will host a social computing lab for social media applications including collection, cleaning, and analysis of large-scale social media data sets. To promote interdisciplinary efforts, the core will hold workshops and speaker series to facilitate presentation, demonstration, and discussion of how social media data can be explored across a wide range of disciplines. The professional development and academic training activities will include certificates, new courses, and a new Master program in the longer term. In addition, the core will facilitate and produce collaborative research proposals with health science researchers and clinicians and seek external funding opportunities from federal and other agencies.

Amir Karami, Ph.D.

Amir Karami, Ph.D.

Core Co-Lead

Dr. Amir Karami’s research focuses on big data and text mining, medical and health informatics, data science, social computing/social network analysis and IT security in Web, mobile and social networks.

Brie Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D., RD

Brie Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D., RD

Core Co-Lead

Dr. Turner-McGrievy’s research focuses on discovering ways to help people eat healthier, lose weight, and prevent chronic disease.

Technology Hub

About the Hub

The mission of the Technology Hub (Tech-Hub) is to support content cores by providing consultative services to bring researchers, data sets, infrastructure, analytics and analysts together to solve large scale data driven problems on the UofSC campus. The Tech-Hub’s responsibilities include: 1) Support and consultation for the establishment of a baseline infrastructure to support data; 2) Contributing to the Center’s efforts to assess and catalogue the healthcare data sets available to UofSC researchers via BDHSC; 3) Assessing and cataloging computational infrastructure available to UofSC researchers; 4) Providing advice on analytical tools and skilled analysts available to UofSC researchers; 5) Conducting education and outreach activities to connect infrastructure, data, analytic tools and data scientists and researchers. Tech-Hub staff also guide faculty in selected ancillary topics which are needed to successfully deliver analytical research including data/cyber security and privacy policies, tools, and technical capabilities. The Tech-Hub provides technical and intellectual support for infrastructure development and capacity building for big data health science research across campus. Its support includes maintaining select computing resources; advising on technical tools, technologies, platforms, cybersecurity, and methodologies; and providing expertise on computing focused funding opportunities among other responsibilities. 

Neset Hikmet, Ph.D.

Neset Hikmet, Ph.D.

Core Lead

Dr. Hikmet has led numerous distributed data collection and analytics projects and has significant experience in leading data analytics projects within academia, including utilization of a wide range of analytics methods and approaches.

Business/Entrepreneuship Hub 

About the Hub

The mission of the Business Entrepreneurship (B/E) Hub is to inspire and transform the USC academic community into entrepreneurial big data thinkers and problem solvers, and to ensure the sustainability of the BDHSC. The B/E Hub will serve as a core where healthcare industry big-data problems are connected to new ideas, experts, resources, and technologies needed to create new solutions, products and services. Through a three-pronged approach (customer identification, industry discovery, and commercialization), the B/E Hub will engage both the Big Data and healthcare industry/consumers and connect faculty/researchers to industry. The B/E Hub will develop a Carolinas Innovation Corps (CIC) by modeling the NSF I-Corps program and develop a Big Data Health Innovation Strike Force modeled after Michigan’s innovation strike teams concept. The B/E Hub also will host an annual data science bowl competition for the students. The B/E Hub will be co-led by Drs. B Olatosi (ASPH) and D Brown (DMSB) and consists of expertise in entrepreneurism, healthcare delivery and pharmaceuticals. The B/E Hub team also includes Mr. C Hardaway, Director of UofSC Technology Commercialization Office and Ms. J Clenney, a Business Librarian who is knowledgeable in patent, marketing, and industry search.

Bankole Olatosi, Ph.D.

Bankole Olatosi, Ph.D.

MPI & Core Co-Lead

Dr. Olatosi’s research interests are in the fields of Big Data Health Analytics, HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and rural health. 

Dirk Brown, Ph.D.

Dirk Brown, Ph.D.

Position

Dirk Brown is the faculty director of the University of South Carolina’s McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise and a clinical assistant professor of management at the Darla Moore School of Business.