Women in Data Science: Valentina Di Francesco, M.S.

Valentina Di Francesco, M.S.
Lead Program Director, Computational Genomics and Data Science Program
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

Co-lead for the NIH Cloud Platform Interoperability effort

Realizing a trans-NIH, federated data ecosystem:
I lead the Computational Genomics and Data Science Program at NHGRI, which supports the development of innovative data analysis and visualization tools, algorithms and statistical approaches, informatics platforms and data resources that are needed for genomic research and genomic medicine. I also provide scientific leadership for the development of the AnVIL, a recently established, scalable and interoperable resource for the genomic scientific community, that leverages cloud-based infrastructure for democratizing genomic data access, sharing and computing across large genomic, and genomic-related data sets.

Among a variety of projects I am involved in, I am particularly enthusiastic about the NIH Cloud Platform Interoperability project, which aims to establish and implement guidelines and technical standards to empower end-user analyses across participating cloud-based platforms established across the to facilitate the realization of a trans-NIH, federated data ecosystem.

“Data science” is a “science” at NIH:
After many years at the NIH, only recently I have been noticing a solid appreciation of the essential contributions of the statistical, mathematical, computer science approaches to better understand biological systems. Finally, “data science” is considered as a “science” at the NIH! I can’t think of a better time to join the ranks of women data scientists in biomedical research. The computational genomics field is a relatively new and rapidly evolving research area which has a significant need of enthusiastic, intellectually curious young women (and men) embracing the challenges of the new field.

What do you think is the biggest data science accomplishment NIH has achieved in the past year and why?
NIH has put in motion a series of activities that aim to establish a FAIR NIH data ecosystem to facilitate data storage, sharing and analysis across resources established by NIH institutes. Examples of such activities include the RAS project, the NCPI effort and STRIDES. A significant technical and management coordination effort across ICs is required for the success of these projects, which is fortunately facilitated by ODSS.

On life outside work:
When I am not advocating for more support for data science at the NIH, I look forward to my annual summer trip sailing the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea with my family while exploring historical sites and trying a variety of local cheese, wine, and other delicacies along the southern coast of Europe.

Ms. Di Francesco holds an M.S. in statistics. She was featured in a blog post titled "Women in Tech at NIH: Togetherness Enables Transformation" guest authored by ODSS Director Dr. Susan Gregurick for the NLM's Musings from the Mezzanine in September 2020 and a lecture Gregurick delivered in March 2021 titled "Women Leading the Way: Stories of the Women (and Men) Making an Impact on Data Science at NIH."

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This page last reviewed on March 19, 2021