3 Interesting Facts About The White House Chief Data Scientist

President Obama, sometimes referred to as ‘the big data president,’ invested over 200 million dollars towards a comprehensive list of big data initiatives in 2012 and has also opened up 130,000 data sets available for download on data.gov.

His devotion to data-driven decisions over “going with his gut” has propelled him into investing in large-scale projects that have the power to drastically shift the configuration of the nation’s current cybersecurity plans to the CDC’s tracking of life-threatening illnesses. In February, he also appointed  Chief Data Scientist, DJ Patil, to help lead these data initiatives.

So who exactly is DJ Patil and what is he in charge of?

Here are a few interesting facts that will help you learn more about the nation’s first-ever White House Chief Data Scientist.

DJ Patil shares responsibility for coining the term “data scientist”

In a role that was practically non-existent, or perhaps just poorly defined in 2008, he (and Jeff Hammerbacher) coined the title data scientist as a way to better describe the work he did during his tenure at LinkedIn. Typically responsible for cleaning, analyzing and conveying patterns within large data sets, DJ Patil famously declared in an HBR article that being a data scientist is the “sexiest job of the 21st century.”

His dad is a famous Silicon Valley pioneer

Like father, like son. Suhas Patil, IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) graduate and founder of Cirrus Logic, is one of the most well-known and revered Silicon Valley technology pioneers. Born in 1974 and raised in Cupertino, CA, DJ Patil was often suspended and nearly flunked out of high school. His Eureka moment happened after high school when he was rejected from every college he applied to. However, he continued to pursue his love for math by enrolling in community college and teaching himself via textbooks from the local library — in large part due to the encouragement by his father to continue pursuing his dreams. (Source: Yahoo Politics)

His first priority is to work on precision medicine

The first line item in Patil’s demanding to-do list is to use patient-powered data to “accelerate discovery and help clinicians select which treatments will works best for patients.” Second on that list is to leverage open data sets provided by the government to build products that will improve the lives of American citizens (think emergency response times, climate change). Also on his agenda is to offer protection around citizen privacy to prevent data breaches and ensure that citizen information isn’t improperly mined for marketing and advertising purposes.

After learning about the background of our new Chief Data Scientist, it will be exciting to see how the government uses big data to improve and influence our daily lives.

Welcome to the White House, DJ Patil!