Tech Tonics: Taha Kass-Hout – OpenFDA, Open Mind, Open Heart
A cardiologist by training and a data scientist long before it was sexy, Dr. Taha Kass-Hout demonstrates the outsized impact possible when heart, vision, and passion meet commitment to government service, and beyond. Originally from Syria, Taha discovered his love of computers and programming at a very early age. The son of an architect, he studied architecture in college then decided to become a doctor, attending medical school at the University of Texas at Houston and continuing his training in cardiology at the Beth Israel Hospital of Harvard Medical School. It was there that he first recognized the need for and value of data sharing in medical research. He then went on to earn his Masters of Science in Statistics from the University of Texas.
After years of working in academia and industry, including Silicon Valley, Taha brought his passion for data sharing and building ecosystems to the public sector; first to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and subsequently to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), where, as the agency’s first Chief Health Informatics Officer, he pioneered the concept of openFDA, and then created and led the development of precisionFDA precision.fda.gov (the context in which David first met him). Both openFDA and precisionFDA were referenced in the White House updated Strategy for American Innovation (2015). Taha left the FDA in summer 2016, after eight years of government service.
Taha, together with his wife, Hend, have applied the tools of data and social science to global humanitarian and refugee efforts; they are the co-founders of Humanitarian Tracker, a non-profit, non-political organization that connects and empowers citizens using innovation in technology to support humanitarian causes. In 2016, it was selected by the United Nations and other partners as a top global innovation that could address the Sustainable Development Goals and showcased at the Solutions Summit, co-moderated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
We are delighted to welcome Taha to Tech Tonics.
This episode of Tech Tonics was sponsored by DNAnexus, the secure and compliant cloud platform that enables enterprise users to analyze, collaborate around, and integrate massive amounts of genetic and other health data.