MU School of Medicine Hires New Associate Dean for Informatics

Dr. Russell Waitman, PhD

Lemuel Russell Waitman, PhD, will join the University of Missouri School of Medicine Oct. 1 as the associate dean for informatics, vice chair for informatics and professor in the Department of Health Management and Informatics, and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Additionally, Dr. Waitman will serve as the director of medical information for the NextGen Precision Health Institute, a strategic priority for the MU campus and the UM System. Dr. Waitman will spend 80% of his time in engaged in these roles in Columbia and 20% of his time in Kansas City as a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics and as the director of the Center for Health Insights at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine.

“This is a transformational hire to the University of Missouri System, as MU and UMKC have jointly worked together to make a recruitment of this type happen,” said Richard Barohn, MD, executive vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Missouri. “Dr. Waitman is a national leader in medical informatics and is well known around the country as an informatics researcher at the top of his field. We hope this is the first of a number of systemwide recruits that will further our mission to provide leading-edge research and world-class health care to Missourians.”

In his new roles across the UM System, Waitman will work to establish new methods so investigators across the system can access electronic medical records for research purposes. This work will also closely align with Waitman’s appointment to the board of the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation, a public-private partnership between the University of Missouri and Cerner Corporation.

“Dr. Waitman’s expertise will be essential for MU and our medical school to grow as a research-intensive institution,” said Steve Zweig, MD, Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean of the MU School of Medicine. “As a leading researcher, Dr. Waitman has a proven track record that I’m confident he will continue in his new roles.”

Waitman's research is funded by both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Through PCORI, Waitman established the Greater Plains Collaborative that linked the electronic medical records for a dozen academic health centers in the Midwest, Utah and Texas to enable investigators to access clinical data in order to perform leading-edge precision health research. The University of Missouri has been part of the Greater Plains Collaborative for several years as one of the collaborating sites.

In Kansas City at the UMKC School of Medicine, Waitman will serve as a bioinformatics professor and director of the Center for Health Insights. The center partners with Truman Medical Centers and Cerner Health Facts to use de-identified health systems data to conduct data-driven research for biomedical discovery and to gain insights into usage and comparative effectiveness of treatment to improve patient safety and quality of care.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Waitman, who can help accelerate our research at the university to help improve health care for millions of people,” said Dean Mary Anne Jackson, MD. “We look forward to his leadership at the UMKC Center for Health Insights and expanding our outcomes research enterprise.”

Since 2010, Waitman has served as a professor of internal medicine, the director of the Center for Medical Informatics and Enterprise Analytics, and as the associate vice chancellor for Enterprise Analytics at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC). There, he has worked to establish a strategy for clinical and translational research informatics for Frontiers, the Kansas and Kansas City NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. Prior to his time at KUMC, Waitman served as a faculty member with the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he led their Computerized Provider Order Entry project, “WizOrder,” and its commercialization to McKesson Corporation.

“I’ve enjoyed my collaborations with the University of Missouri over the past decade and am excited about this opportunity to enhance informatics across the campuses and with our partners through the NextGen Precision Health Institute,” Waitman said. “By working together, we have an opportunity to create a stronger environment for investigators from all schools to engage patients and partner health systems in advancing health in Missouri and nationally. As a former Air Force medical service corps officer and military brat, I am also interested in the potential with Cerner to contribute to military members’ and veterans’ health.”

Waitman received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree and doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.