Fall 2018 NAACCR Narrative Leave a comment


It was with tremendous sadness that the Surveillance Research Program learned of the loss of our friend and colleague, Paul Fearn. Paul began his work at NIH in February 2015 as a consultant while still working as the Director of Biomedical Informatics at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center. In August 2016, he became Chief of the newly formed Surveillance Informatics Branch in SRP. During his time at SRP, Paul facilitated collaboration across NCI and NIH and encouraged the advancement of informatics tools, approaches, and architectures for the SEER Program.

As technical lead of the NCI-Department of Energy (DOE) Pilot 3 collaboration, he spearheaded efforts to advance scalable clinical data processing for cancer registries using natural language processing and machine learning techniques, and he fostered collaborative relationships with computational experts at the DOE Labs. Especially because of his desire to create structure and foster transparency, Paul was instrumental in the development of the Data Acquisitions and Linkages Initiative by supporting the team in the thoughtful consideration of new data linkages and related topics such as data provenance, data integration, and data security. While a consultant for NIH, he led a comprehensive evaluation of the SEER Data Management System (SEER*DMS) with four other informatics experts. This work was pivotal in providing a roadmap to critical system enhancements. In the past two years Paul’s vision, guidance, and steadfast support has seen the SEER*DMS community implement new mechanisms for collaborative work, redefining IT governance for a complex network of stakeholders, driving a comprehensive usability evaluation on SEER*DMS, and fostering new relationships to thoughtfully redefine the infrastructure of SEER*DMS.

Paul received his MBA at New York University and his PhD in Biomedical and Health Informatics at the University of Washington. Throughout his career, he worked to advance biomedical informatics at Baylor College of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Paul focused on building teams and collaborations and creating thoughtful strategies, rather than solely providing short-term solutions. He was also deliberate in making time for trainees and fellows, continually focusing on training and building others to meet them where they were. His true talent was making every person feel valued.

Paul is remembered for his unparalleled ability to connect researchers across NIH and throughout the informatics community, his innovative approaches and openness to new ideas, his calm advice, and his genuine laugh. Creativity is intelligence having fun. There is not a person who exhibited this more than Paul. He will be sorely missed.



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