BUFFALO, N.Y. – Peter L. Elkin, MD, formerly vice
president and professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of
Medicine and director of its Center for Biomedical Informatics, has
been appointed professor and founding chair of the University at
Buffalo’s new Department of Biomedical Informatics, starting
The announcement brings to 10 the number of new chairs and
chair-level appointees recruited by Michael E. Cain, MD, UB vice
president for health sciences and dean of the UB medical school, in
the past five years.
These national hires, Cain says, are a critical piece of his
strategic vision for the medical school's future.
Over the next five years, UB plans to hire a total of 250 new
faculty members across all academic units, 100 of whom will join
the medical school. Major New York State investments to this effort
have included Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 bill, a
historic piece of higher education legislation signed into law in
2011 that is enabling the university to pursue the next phase of UB
Biomedical informatics is the interdisciplinary scientific field
that studies the use of biomedical data, particularly clinical and
genomic data, information and knowledge for scientific inquiry,
problem-solving, decision-making and communication.
The new department in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical
Sciences is being established as a result of the “explosive
growth” in the field of biomedical informatics over the past
decade, according to Cain.
“Biomedical informatics is now essential to the delivery
of health care,” says Cain. The new department will play a
critical role in UB’s increased emphasis on translational
medicine and in strengthening the university’s application
for the prestigious National Institutes of Health Clinical and
Translational Science Award program.
According to Cain, Elkin rapidly emerged as the top candidate
following a comprehensive national search, possessing all the
skills needed to create a strong foundation for the new department
in service of UB's 2020 strategic goals.
Under Elkin, Cain says, the new department will embark on
developing undergraduate and graduate student education and
mentored research training programs as well as a robust research
A leader in biomedical informatics, Elkin is renowned for
building biomedical common data infrastructure systems and
protocols that have transformed research and clinical care; he has
created and implemented bioinformatics standards for data storage
Elkin has pioneered the development of core methods for
standardizing medical record data that can link patient records to
genomic, diagnostic and treatment information. One of his
best-known advances is the development of methods for fully
automated electronic quality monitoring aimed at improving the
quality and safety of the provision of clinical care. His
work has employed natural language processing methods that can read
and understand text dictated or typed into a computer by health
care providers turning the free text into computable, ontological
knowledge. He also has developed a medical search algorithm, and
many other tools for translational research and managing biomedical
At Mount Sinai, Elkin created a common data infrastructure as an
output to the implementation of Epic electronic health records for
the secondary use of clinical data.
His major research interests include controlled health
vocabularies, knowledge representation, natural language
processing, ontologies, information retrieval, human factors
engineering, clinical decision support systems, clinical genomic
and translational informatics and electronic medical records.
Elkin is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the
American College of Medical Informatics. He has been elected to
mastership by the American College of Physicians, an honor shared
by only a small number of physicians worldwide. By election
to mastership he joins the ranks of past UB honorees such as Evan
Calkins, James P. Nolan and Edward Stehlik.
Elkin was awarded the Homer R. Warner Award for outstanding
contributions to the field of medical informatics. He was the
recipient of the first international Master of the Danish Society
of Medical Informatics. He was also awarded the Mayo Department of
Medicine Laureate Award for dedication to patient care, educational
excellence and high standards of personal integrity.
Elkin earned his undergraduate degree in applied mathematics and
physics from Union College and his medical degree at New York
Medical College. He trained in internal medicine at the Lahey
Clinic and was a clinical fellow in medicine at the Massachusetts
General Hospital (MGH). He completed a National Institutes of
Health sponsored fellowship in medical informatics at the MGH and
at Harvard Medical School in conjunction with the Harvard School of
Public Health. At the Mayo Medical School, he served successively
as an assistant professor, associate professor and professor in the
department of medicine and held an academic appointment in medical
UB’s new Department of Biomedical Informatics will advance
translational medicine by providing the data infrastructure
necessary to perform translational and clinical genomic research
more efficiently. This will position UB to more rapidly
advance scientific understanding of biomedicine and more rapidly
bring that understanding to the bedside in the form of new, safe
and effective treatments for patients.