The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has named Courtney Montgomery, Ph.D., as the founding director of its Center for Biomedical Data Sciences.
Montgomery, who first came to OMRF in 1995 as a research technician and returned to open her lab in 2008, will apply her more than 25 years of experience in bioinformatics and data science to the role. As director of the center, she will lead the team bringing cutting-edge analytic knowledge and support to hundreds of researchers at OMRF and across the state as well as oversee the center’s efforts to recruit, train and retain talented data scientists in Oklahoma.
“Data science plays an enormous role in biomedical research,” she said. “A single experiment can generate enough data to fill 75 laptops. Our scientists need extensive computing resources and skilled mathematicians and computer scientists to make discoveries from that much information.”
In her lab at OMRF, Montgomery has applied bioinformatics to the study of sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease in which the immune system overreacts, causing clusters of inflamed tissue to form in different organs. Over the last 15 years, she has shared data with researchers across the state and nation to make progress on sarcoidosis, but also on her colleagues’ work on asthma, tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In her role leading OMRF’s data sciences efforts, she hopes to expand these sorts of collaborations across research programs and dive deeper into predictive modeling.
“The same technologies and methods the business world has mastered to make predictions about consumer behavior can be applied to help us track transmission of a virus or even how someone will respond to a given medication or surgical intervention,” Montgomery said.
OMRF Vice President of Research Courtney Griffin, Ph.D., said Montgomery’s long career in the field and at the foundation made her the ideal candidate.
“We’re excited that Dr. Montgomery will combine her outstanding data science credentials with a deep knowledge of OMRF and its scientists in leading this new center,” said Griffin. “We anticipate it will become an increasingly important resource for our scientists working with evolving technologies that generate large and complex data sets.”
A native of Duncan, Oklahoma, Montgomery holds a bachelor’s in biology from Oklahoma City University, a master’s in biostatistics from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and a doctorate in genetic and molecular epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University. She will assume her new role on May 1, and her lab will remain open in OMRF’s Genes and Human Disease Research Program.