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Dr. Lauren Neal has more than 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry with a focus on creating and delivering data science and artificial intelligence solutions to accelerate precision medicine innovation.
Lauren leads efforts to aggregate, analyze, and interpret health information, developing new processes, solutions, and information architectures that leverage a variety of data types—medical images, electronic health records, wearable data, and -omics data. She serves as a capability lead for investments and client engagements across multiple federal health clients, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and military health organizations. Lauren implements strategies for extracting information from complex data sources, conducting pharmaceutical adverse event signal detection analytics, enabling population health surveillance solutions, and implementing cloud-based bioinformatics pipeline development for precision medicine.
Lauren is the founder of the Booz Allen Women in Data Science group, which aims to develop diverse data science leaders and inspire the next generation of women data scientists. In addition, she leads efforts to develop data-driven solutions for not-for-profit organizations, and her work advancing Data Science for Social Good initiatives was recognized with a Booz Allen Excellence Award in 2017.
Lauren has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’ve always wanted to contribute to big societal issues that I worry about, and data science gives me the power to do that.”
Why do you have the career that you have? I’ve always been really interested in math and science. I earned my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Once I realized that I could take those skills—building models, solving complex challenges—and apply them to lots of different things, it became even more exciting. Then I had the foundation for becoming a data scientist.
What excites you about data science? I’ve always wanted to contribute to big societal issues that I worry about, and data science gives me the power to do that. I can do things like map out human trafficking networks. We ran a hackathon around that subject—and challenges that just seem too big. But then you realize that with your analytic skills, you can derive insights from data—like finding illicit businesses that serve as fronts to conceal those kinds of human trafficking crimes. That’s a powerful thing.
How do you help Booz Allen develop diverse data science leaders? I founded the Booz Allen Women in Data Science group. What’s interesting is that, although women are still somewhat underrepresented in the field, when I analyze the lists of attendees at our hackathons, it’s usually at least 50/50 men and women—and often there are more women. I think it’s partially the fact that we tackle social issues, but it’s also the way we do hackathons, with everyone working together. Data science really is a team sport.
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