Appointments News

Two Informaticians Join the Department of Anesthesiology and I2 as Faculty Members

Two internationally recognized Informaticians join Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM). Joanna Abraham and Thomas Kannampallil will be the first joint faculty members in the Washington University Anesthesiology Department (WUDA) and the Institute for Informatics (I2).

Joanna Abraham received a PhD in Information Sciences and Technology from Pennsylvania State University in May 2010. Prior to joining WUSM, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (Fall 2013-Summer 2018), she was an AHRQ post-doctoral fellow at the University of Texas (2010-11), and an Associate Research Scientist at the New York Academy of Medicine (2012). Dr. Abraham has over 12 years of experience in the field of medical informatics, with a specific research focus on clinical workflows, care coordination and use of health information technologies. Her current research focuses on the analysis of: (a) error management in handoff communication (b) evaluation of care coordination supported by the use of computerized provider order entry system, (c) coordination of distributed clinical activities to manage information and task interdependencies, (d) team cognition in clinical teams, and (e) tools for care transitions between emergency department and outpatient clinics. Her research work has been published in leading informatics journals such as Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Journal of American Medical Informatics, International Journal of Biomedical Informatics; clinical journals (Critical Care); BMJ Quality and Safety, and ACM SIGCHI conferences. Dr. Abraham’s work has received recognition from the American Medical Informatics Association, the primary informatics professional society, which recognized her research through a distinguished paper award in 2012 (on the design and evaluation of a handoff tool for reducing communication errors in a critical care setting) and the Diana Forsythe Award in 2010 (on the detailed investigation of breakdowns in team coordination during an emergency situation).

Thomas Kannampallil is completing his PhD in Communication from University of Illinois at Chicago. He conducted graduate work in Information Sciences and Technology, and in Applied Statistics, at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to that, he obtained his Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering in Trivandrum, India. Prior to joining WUSM, he was the Director of the Primary Care Informatics Research Program at University of Illinois at Chicago. His research spans two topical domains: cognitive science and biomedical informatics. Within cognitive science, his focus areas are on studying the cognitive underpinnings of human computer interaction, design, and social computation. Within informatics, his research involves designing and evaluating informatics tools for supporting clinical workflow, interactive communication, reasoning, and decision-making, with a goal of improving patient safety and quality. Specifically, in informatics, he has used his training in cognitive science to design of health information technology for supporting information seeking behaviors at point-of-care, tools for supporting transitions of care within and between settings, characterizing the nature, causes and progression of medication ordering errors, and trajectories of acute and chronic pain management using opioids. Research outputs from these efforts have been published in all leading informatics journals (JAMIA, JBI, AI in Medicine, BMJ Quality & Safety); and clinical journals (Pediatrics, PAIN, Journal of Critical Care, JAMA Internal Medicine). He also co-edited a special issue on the use of cognitively-oriented approaches for interactive clinical systems for the Journal of Biomedical Informatics. He received the distinguished paper (2012) and reviewer awards (2013, 2016) at the annual AMIA conference.

The recruitment of Drs Abraham and Kannampallil represents the beginning of a strategic alliance between WUDA and I2. Joanna Abraham and Thomas Kannampallil are world-renowned informaticians, who will strengthen and diversify the research portfolio at Washington University. They will contribute meaningfully towards team science, and will elevate the quality of research conducted in WUDA, I2, and more broadly. Attracting scientists of their caliber to Washington University will help us to achieve our strategic objectives, as we continually strive to generate important scientific knowledge, to improve the outcomes of vulnerable patients, and to promote health within society more broadly.

Alex S. Evers, M.D.
Henry E. Mallinckrodt Professor and Chairman of Anesthesiology
Professor of Internal Medicine and Developmental Biology

Michael S. Avidan, M.B.B.Ch.
Dr. Seymour and Rose T. Brown Professor of Anesthesiology
Chief, Division of Clinical and Translational Research

Philip R.O. Payne, Ph.D., FACMI
Robert J. Terry Professor and Director, Institute for Informatics (I2)
Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medical Science, School of Medicine
Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science