portrait of Dr. Michael Dake

Starren named biomedical informatics, biostatistics director

Feb. 26, 2024

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Justin B. Starren, MD, PhD, has been named director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistics at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. He will start March 25. 

A portrait of Justin Starren, MD, PhD, in a white shirt and black jacket.

Justin Starren, MD, PhD

Dr. Starren is an exceptional professor, researcher and data scientist with more than 30 years of experience in biomedical informatics. He joins the university from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where he started in 2010 and was the director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Data Science. He was also a professor and chief of the Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics, which he founded.

While at Northwestern, Dr. Starren developed the fiscal and management model for a 5 million-patient digital data warehouse, which was a joint venture between Northwestern Memorial Health Care and the Feinberg School of Medicine. He created new doctoral and master’s programs in health and biomedical informatics. And he was instrumental in securing more than $124 million in federal and foundation grants.

Other stops in Dr. Starren’s professional career include Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (2006-2010) and the Columbia University School of Medicine (1998-2006).

Dr. Starren’s extensive background in teaching, mentorship and research make him an outstanding fit for UArizona Health Sciences. His expertise in big data and informatics as well as his vast writing portfolio and success in attracting grants portend a new era of achievement at CB2.

He also has a long history of innovation. He was named a Top 10 IT Innovator by Healthcare Informatics Magazine in 2002 and has two patents to his credit.

Dr. Starren believes patients intuitively understand that, if they want the latest and best therapies today, they need to seek out an institution that is actively researching and developing the best therapies for tomorrow. He is committed to making CB2 one of the strongest academic research programs of its kind in the country so that the university can deliver health services of the highest quality.

Another of Dr. Starren’s strong suits is his commitment to achieving success through collaboration. He believes that CB2 cannot achieve its mission based solely on one researcher’s portfolio. Rather, it will require multiple faculty members, both existing UA faculty and new recruitments, working together on a shared vision. Through collaboration, Starren hopes to develop CB2 into a full-featured academic home for biomedical computational sciences.

Dr. Starren has a vision to make the university the leading institution in the nation for applying the tools of informatics, biostatistics and data science to the health problems of underserved populations, including the Native American and Hispanic communities. We look forward to supporting Dr. Starren as he works to make that vision a reality.

As we welcome Dr. Starren, I want to take a moment to thank Nirav Merchant for ably leading CB2 on an interim basis. Merchant did a terrific job of overseeing activities at CB2 while we conducted a nationwide search for a new director. I, and many others at Health Sciences, are grateful for his efforts.

Please join me in giving Dr. Starren a warm welcome.

Michael D. Dake, MD
Senior Vice President for University of Arizona Health Sciences