Leadership Appointment in Research Informatics, Technology, and Computing

Dear Colleagues:

Creating scientific breakthroughs and advancing the state of health care require us to leverage our technology to provide the best possible environment for science to thrive. To that end, in late 2022 we convened a task force led by Muredach P. Reilly, MBBCh, with the aim of reimagining research computing and IT at CUIMC. Those conversations have revealed the need to reassess and upgrade our research information technology infrastructure and provide greater access to high-performance computing, data resources, and support services.

As a result of the task force’s recommendations, today I am pleased to share that Despina Kontos, PhD, has agreed to lead this important work as the inaugural Chief Research Information Officer for CUIMC. Her appointment is effective immediately.

In her new role, Dr. Kontos will oversee the strategic planning and direction of resources devoted to research informatics, technology, and computing (RITC) across the medical center. The phased implementation will include establishing executive and steering committees comprised of key stakeholders from across campus to develop short- and long-term goals for building a sustainable RITC model at CUIMC. Dr. Kontos will work in partnership with executive leaders at Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian as well the vice deans for research at all four CUIMC schools to ensure synergy throughout the enterprise. She ultimately will oversee a robust academic and research-focused governance structure for future strategic planning, needs assessment, and prioritization, all with a culture of transparency and communication. This will include successfully implementing and sustaining a research service-oriented “front door” to central support for high-performance computing and IT.

We are grateful to have Despina to lead the way on this work. She is a renowned computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics for multi-modality imaging data. After studying engineering at the University of Patras in Greece, she received her PhD in computer and information sciences from Temple University in Philadelphia and completed her postdoc training in radiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kontos joined the Columbia community earlier this year as director of the new Center for Innovation in Imaging Biomarkers and Integrated Diagnostics (CIMBID) and vice chair of artificial intelligence and data science research in the Department of Radiology. She also serves as director of biomarker imaging at NewYork-Presbyterian and holds secondary appointments in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Department of Biomedical Informatics, and the Columbia University Department of Biomedical Engineering. We appreciate her willingness to continue in her myriad roles as she takes on these new responsibilities as CRIO.

I also want to offer my thanks to Dr. Reilly and the task force, whose work and recommendations laid the groundwork for this leadership position and our shared path forward. I am incredibly grateful for their insight now and in the future as we move ahead with this important work. Our goal is to be a leader in biomedical research infrastructure and we look forward to sharing regular updates with you as these efforts show progress.

For now, please join me in congratulating Despina as she steps into a role that allows the entire CUIMC research enterprise to benefit from her valuable and diverse expertise.

All my best,

Katrina Armstrong, MD
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University