Newman-Griffis wins AMIA Doctoral Dissertation Award

Posted: August 25, 2021
Denis Newman-Griffis

CSE department graduate Denis Newman-Griffis has been selected as the winner of the 2021 AMIA Doctoral Dissertation Award for his work conducted at Ohio State and the National Institutes of Health. This award offers high-value and prestigious recognition for the top doctoral dissertation each year that contributes to the science of informatics in any biomedical application domains.

Newman-Griffis’ dissertation, Capturing Domain Semantics with Representation Learning: Applications to Health and Function,” developed several natural language processing (NLP) techniques for representing medical concepts with minimal annotations, and embedding knowledge from any corpus and any terminology.  His work adapted NLP technology to address important challenges in describing the functional abilities or disabilities of people, including understanding what the language of function looks like and extracting descriptions of functional status.  He also provided new insights in language changes over time within different domains using representation learning, enabling adaptation of NLP methods to more diverse data.

The judging committee followed a rigorous process for accepting nominations, with a limit of one nomination from each nominating institution. The committee selected six finalists whose dissertations were assessed by all members of the committee.  First prize and honorable mention awards carry a cash prize as well as a semi-plenary presentation at AMIA 2021.

Newman-Griffis is currently a NLM Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.  While at Ohio State, he also served as a NIH Predoctoral Fellow, conducting research with the NIH Clinical Center.  His dissertation work was co-advised by Eric Fosler-Lussier and Albert Lai.

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