Hit out of the Park

DBMI celebrates as Peter J. Park advances to Professor of Biomedical Informatics

red and white cake
"In his original application he said, 'I want to have an impact on health and humanity.' Not everybody who is as smart in math and computer science as Peter wants to do that," said chair Zak Kohane during his toast at last month's departmental happy hour.

Undergrad trainees often inquire how best to trek the pathway to academic success. In quant land, starting with an AB in Applied Math at Harvard University, followed by an SM in Applied Math at Harvard, connecting to a PhD in Applied Math at Cal Tech, topped with an SM and postdoc in Biostats at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and pivoting from a theoretical focus into a “full on” immersion exposure for the health angle at a Harvard teaching hospital informatics program (BCH) would for many be a rather daunting odyssey.

For DBMI newly tenured professor Peter Jungsoo Park, this was an organic journey that brought together a natural affinity for precision analytics with a desire to contribute meaningfully to improving human health. And as affirmed by all of the standard metrics—a sustained record of principal investigator peer-reviewed funding, 165+ publications, over 40 postdoc and student mentees, notable high-profile collaborations such as TCGA and ModEncode, leadership of a successful PhD program and acclamation as speaker, teacher and leader—Peter has succeeded on all counts.

Of all his many accomplishments, perhaps the most significant lie in three distinct areas of scholarship: 1) Understanding the organization and systematic changes in the organization of a variety of epigenetic architectures in development and disease; 2) Cancer genomics writ large but most particularly development of the most accurate methods of assembling somatic genomics; and 3) Analytic rigor of existing current approaches and algorithms as a means of insuring integrity of cancer data interpretation.

In the words of a colleague, “Peter is an astoundingly talented, creative and hard working scientist. His papers are superb and their impact can be found in many different fields.  His work consistently shows high standards, imagination, and depth, but with a focus on solving real problems in genomics, cancer, neurobiology, etc.”

DBMI is indeed proud to be home base for Peter and his talented crew. Click through the gallery below for more scenes from our celebration.