The University of South Carolina (USC) Big Data Health Science Center (BDHSC) welcomes the 2024 cohort of its third annual Big Data Health Science Summer Research Training Program for Infectious Diseases. This program is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grants (T35), and is designed to contribute to the growing demand for workforce development in the data science field. Studies show the existing shortage of data scientists in healthcare research and operations is growing, with demand already outstripping supply by 50–60%. This shortage is further exacerbated by the high demand for the same talent by healthcare providers, payers, and other industries. Recognizing this shortage, the health care industry needs academia to reengineer its curriculum to focus on using big data analytics.

This 11-week, full-time intensive course-based training program is designed to introduce master’s and pre-dissertation doctoral students to the challenges and excitement of data science research by providing a mentored summer research experience with the aim of inspiring trainees toward academic careers that incorporate biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research. Students will work alongside established clinical scientists on one or more Big Data Health-related studies in an individualized plan that they develop with their mentor. In addition to mentored research and formal classroom training (at no cost to the student), each student will receive funding and travel support to publish and present their research at national and local conferences. The program is led by a cadre of institutionally and nationally prominent principal investigators and program committee members: Bankole OlatosiNeset Hikmetand Xiaoming Li. Moreover, the training program involves active participation by accomplished and experienced multidisciplinary mentors with a comprehensive array of expertise. Students are thus paired with a mentor according to their interests and the mentor’s availability.

Each year, a group of master’s and pre-dissertation doctoral students from the physical and quantitative sciences across the US are recruited to participate in the 10-week intensive summer training program. The 2024 summer cohort includes Joshua Cook, University of west Florida; Lauren Holian, University of South Carolina; Grant Hunter, University of Alabama; Gulnar Ibramsha, University of South Carolina; and Brenda Macias, Tufts University. The 2024 NIH T35 recipients’ research interests span a wide range of fields, including using EHR data and clinical studies for cancer-related research; using spatial data to study the ecology of infectious diseases; epidemiology, geospatial healthcare analytics, and genomic analysis; leveraging AI/ ML along with data analytics to improve diagnostics; and applying mathematical modeling and statistical techniques to study infectious diseases like HIV and COVID-19.

The 2023 summer cohort included Katie BondUniversity of DenverEric Inman, California Polytechnic State University; Giovanna LeoneUniversity of South CarolinaGiangvuthanh NguyenOld Dominion UniversityYasmin Keyghobadi NiaOld Dominion UniversityKatheryn (“Kat”) Perea-SchmittleNew Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyAngela TowerWashington State University; and Areyona WilsonUniversity of North Carolina.