Applications Development

Brian FurnerBrian Furner, MS
Director of Applications Development

A graduate of the College, Brian has been a part of the University of Chicago community in various capacities since 1993 and with the CRI since its creation. After years of working on the systems administration side of IT within the Biological Sciences Division, Brian transitioned into software development in 2005 and has been focused on that ever since. Through his work in the Department of Medicine, Brian developed broad knowledge of clinical research data, clinical research applications, and the methods for effectively dealing with the complexities of this domain. Lessons learned in the course of this work proved vital as the CRI began development and operations in early 2011. As Director of Applications Development, Brian oversees a team of developers who are responsible for providing custom software solutions to the BSD research community. In addition to building applications from scratch, the applications development team provides maintenance and operational support for several open-source and third-party products, and has expertise in processing and merging data from disparate sources.

Julissa AcevedoJulissa Acevedo
Senior Business Systems Analyst

Julissa, the CRI’s resident REDCap Administrator since 2012, is the point of contact for all REDCap inquiries at the University of Chicago. REDCap is a self-managed, secure, web-based solution designed to support data collection strategies for research studies. Julissa has personally guided many investigators with their study design and she takes pride in providing exceptional technical support. An active member of the REDCap Consortium, she attends REDCapCon annually to collaborate with other REDCap experts to further advance the use of REDCap here at the University. Prior to joining the CRI, Julissa developed and supported various applications at Motorola, Bank of America, and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Aswathy Ajith 
Clinical Data Analyst

With a strong background in computer science and machine learning, Aswathy earned her MS in Computer Science from the University of Chicago in 2018. She first began working with the CRI during the course of her degree, when she volunteered to work on a project to predict the risk of infection in stem cell transplant patients. Now a member of our clinical data analytics team, Aswathy is responsible for developing data-driven prediction models of clinical data; performing statistical learning over large, disparate data sets; and building visualization tools.

Seong ChoiSeong Choi
Senior Programmer

Seong is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has been with the CRI since February 2012. Before moving to the field of research informatics, he worked at Motorola in Schaumburg, IL, where he was a systems and web programmer focused on IT infrastructure and management tools. Seong is well-versed in a variety of programming languages and platforms including C#, VB.NET, ASP.NET, JavaScript, SQL, and PHP. His other interests in software development include data warehousing and rich internet application development.

Keith Danahey, MS
Senior Programmer – Pharmacogenomics

Keith is a software developer who has been with the CRI since its inception in 2011. He has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Iowa, a master’s degree in computer information systems from Northwestern, and a master’s in analytics from the University of Chicago. Keith is currently the lead developer on the 1200 Patients Project, a pharmacogenomics implementation that helps physicians make prescription decisions based on a patient’s particular genomic makeup. He is an author on nine peer-reviewed publications.

Luca Graglia, MS
Senior Programmer – Gabriella Miller Kids First

Luca is a software engineer with experience across multiple industries. He has worked with self-driven drones, parallel computing algorithms, cloud platform systems, embedded systems, and hardware design projects. He received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Computer Engineering from the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy and a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Luca now brings his experience to the Gabriella Miller Kids First project, a multi-institutional effort to provide pediatric researchers with a much-needed way to work with large sets of genomic and clinical data related to childhood cancer in order to better predict and treat it.

Tomasz OliwaTomasz Oliwa, PhD
Senior Scientific Software Engineer

Tomasz received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Georgia, and obtained a Diplom-Informatiker degree from the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. Before joining the CRI in January 2015, he was a postdoc at the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago (TTIC). Tomasz is interested in all aspects of software engineering and practical applications of natural language processing and applied machine learning. He is experienced with the development and deployment of scientific tools, databases, and web-based interfaces in a variety of programming languages such as Java, Python, and Bash to facilitate the processing of research data.

Monica Palese, MPH 
Program Manager – Pediatric Cancer Data Commons

Monica joined the CRI in 2018 as the Pediatric Cancer Data Commons Program Manager. Prior to joining the CRI, Monica served as a research associate at the University of Chicago’s Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics and Center for Global Health, where she managed various local, national, and international clinical research projects and partnerships, and as a research and program evaluator at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Office of Health Informatics. Monica graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Communication Arts, and Global Cultures from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her Master of Public Health in Public Health Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Don StarkeyDon Starkey
Lead Web Applications Developer – Clinical Trials Informatics

Don joined the CRI in January 2017 to serve as system architect and technical lead on our clinical trials management system. He previously worked at the law firm Kirkland and Ellis LLP, where he was a Lead Developer/Architect focused on custom business solutions using the Microsoft technology stack. Don is well-versed in a variety of programming languages, including C# and Angular, and is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD). His other interests include current client-side frameworks. Don is a graduate of DePaul University.

Jian TianJian Tian
Senior Web Applications Developer

Jian is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and has been with the CRI since September 2016, building web applications to facilitate research. Previously, he worked at Dunn Solutions in Skokie, IL, where he was a consultant focused on building web applications for customers. Jian has expertise across a variety of facets of web development, including database management, front-end development, and back-end programming languages such as Java, C#, and Ruby.

Lilu Wan
Jr. Programmer – Pharmacogenomics

Lilu is a full-stack Software Engineer with experience across multiple industries. She joined the CRI in February 2019 and brings her experience to pharmacogenomics projects that help providers make prescription decisions based on a patient’s genomic makeup with data manipulation and visualization tools. Lilu has a strong engineering background with a Master of Science focused on Engineering Management from Purdue University. She works on data algorithms, object-oriented programming, RESTful APIs, relational SQL database, and web development in both front-end and back-end.

Olga Vachtchenko
Sr. Web Developer

Olga joined the CRI in 2019. Previously, she worked in the BSD Office of Clinical Research where she developed web applications using Microsoft technology. Olga’s experience includes web development, database management, and front-end and back-end programming.

 Bioinformatics Core

Mengjie Chen, PhD
Faculty Director, Bioinformatics Core

Mengjie Chen is an assistant professor in the Section of Genetic Medicine in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Chicago. Before joining UChicago, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Genetics at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2014 to 2016. She obtained her PhD in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics from Yale University in 2014. Dr. Chen was a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Research fellowship in Computational and Molecular Evolutionary Biology in 2019. As a computational biologist and statistician by training, Dr. Chen’s research bridges statistical methodological advances and biomedical applications. Her group develops computational methods and open source tools to address challenges posed by high-throughput technologies for data analysis and interpretation. She has led analysis for numerous genomics projects, including single cell RNA-seq analysis for female reproductive systems in Human Cell Atlas project. Other scientific highlights in cancer genomics include: profiling esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma for Asian population for the first time and profiling matched primaries and multiple metastases from 16 breast cancer patients. As Faculty Director, Dr. Chen oversees development of all bioinformatics projects, facilitates on-campus team science, and sets overall policy/infrastructure for the Bioinformatics Core Facility.

Hong HuHong (Vincent) Hu, PhD 

Hong (a.k.a. Vincent) joined the CRI in December 2018. Prior to coming to Hyde Park, he served as a Bioinformatics Specialist for more than 3 years at the Research Resources Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, and accumulated extensive experience on a wide range of NGS data analysis projects, from single cell RNA-seq to Whole Genome Bisulfite Sequencing. His research interest lies in the application of machine learning methods in high-throughput genomic data, especially in Transcription Regulation and DNA methylation. He also has skills in proposal and grant support. Hong received his PhD in Bioinformatics from University of Illinois at Chicago and is a master candidate of Statistics at UIC as well.

Yan LiYan Li, PhD

Yan received her PhD in Bioinformatics (December 2013) and dual MS degrees in Statistics and Plant Pathology (August 2009) from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining the CRI in 2014, she worked on multidisciplinary projects using advanced computational tools, statistical methods, and mathematical modeling to address a variety of questions across the biological sciences. Currently, she is focused on developing and applying bioinformatics computational software and pipelines to facilitate the analysis of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) data. She works closely with faculty and researchers to explore genomics-associated biomedical questions, including the NGS data analysis of RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq, small RNA-Seq, and exome sequencing.

Wenjun KangWenjun Kang, MS

Wenjun joined the CRI Bioinformatics Core in 2012. He has extensive experience in developing web-based applications for clinical studies, molecular pathology labs, and project management. His areas of expertise also include biostatistics analysis, study design, and software development. Wenjun’s preferred languages are Python/Django, jQuery, MySQL for web development, and SAS/R for statistical analysis. He holds master’s degrees in Biostatistics and Health Informatics from the University of Minnesota.

 Clinical Research Data Warehouse

Tim HolperTimothy Holper, MS, MA 
Director of Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence

Timothy leads the architecture, development, and operations of the Clinical Research Data Warehouse (CRDW) team, whose primary focus is bringing disparate data sources into the CRDW and making this data available to the researcher community through a standard data request process. With advanced degrees in Computer Science as well as Social Science Research and Statistics, Timothy brings together data warehousing expertise and a deep understanding of research data. Prior to joining the CRI, Timothy developed research applications in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, working on predictive statistical models and parallel processing algorithms. He developed social science databases for crime mapping in public housing and program evaluations such as the City of Chicago’s Community Policing program. Timothy aspires for the CRI to make a significant impact on the volume and quality of data available to researchers in the Biological Sciences Division through the efforts of the CRDW team.

Julie JohnsonJulie Johnson, PhD, MPH, RN 
Associate Director, Clinical Research Informatics

Julie has more than 15 years of clinical and healthcare experience as a nurse, analyst, teaching assistant, research assistant, and clinical program coordinator. As part of the CRDW team, she works directly with stakeholders to translate their research questions into optimized requests for the technical team. In addition, she is a guest speaker for the Office of Clinical Research’s monthly research series and an instructor for the Fundamentals of Clinical Research course and SPORT program. Julie is a 1999 graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, a 2003 graduate of The University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) School of Public Health, and received her PhD in 2018 from UIC’s College of Nursing.

Cristina Corrigan 
Clinical Research Informatics Analyst

Cristina has 6+ years of experience in project management and regulatory management. She started at the University of Chicago in 2018 and joined the CRI in 2020. As part of the CRDW team, she liaisons between the research teams and the technical team to facilitate the data needed for clinical and translational research projects. For the University, Cristina is also the co-chair of the Hispanic/LatinX Resource Group. She graduated from Bradley University (Peoria, Illinois) with her Bachelors and completed a Masters at the Universidad Externado de Colombia (Bogota, Colombia).

Tiffany CyrusTiffany Cyrus, MBA
Project Manager

Tiffany has been with the CRI since 2012.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Northwestern University and her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. She also holds an advanced certificate in Project Management. Tiffany has used her expertise to manage and support projects across the CRI’s CRDW, Applications Development, and IT Infrastructure & Scientific Computing teams, as well as governance groups.

George GulottaGeorge Gulotta, MS
Sr. ETL Developer

George joined the CRDW team in 2015. While he has handled requests from numerous departments, the majority of his work has focused on gastroenterology, hepatology, and inflammatory bowel disease. He recently co-authored a paper demonstrating an association between zinc deficiency and IBD flares. His experience also includes building Cognos reports to streamline clinical trial recruitment and datamarts to support ongoing research data collection. George has a bachelor’s degree in Biological Chemistry and a master’s in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the CRI, he worked as research assistant in the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition.

Sheryl Howard
Healthcare Data Analyst – Comprehensive Cancer Center

Sheryl is the liaison between the Comprehensive Cancer Center and the CRDW and works to ensure that high quality Cancer Registry data is available for research in the BSD. She is responsible for integrating Cancer Registry data into the CRDW and creating special quality and reporting projects, such as Cancer Program Practice Profiles Reports. She also collects and reports data regarding cancer identification, treatment, and follow-up; oversees data quality in the Cancer Registry database; and provides Cancer Registry staff with education and cross-training.

Stacie LandronStacie Landron, MS, RN
Healthcare Data Analyst

With a BS in nursing from Northwestern University and an MS in computer science from the University of Chicago, Stacie brings expertise in both the medical and technical domains of healthcare research to the CRDW data request process. She is responsible for quality assurance for most of the CRI’s data requests, and works with researchers to improve the quality of data requests, ensure appropriate data identification for cohort development, and create efficient and informed queries over disparate healthcare data sources. Prior to joining the CRI, Stacie was a healthcare analyst on the enterprise data warehouse team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Thomas Matich, MS
Healthcare Data Analyst

Tom has over 10 years of experience in patient care, research and journalism. His work with the CRDW focuses on collaborating with investigators in the department of neurology and contributing to various data science projects. During his graduate work at UChicago’s Biomedical Informatics program, he researched more efficacious methods of transferring clinical trial data. He also holds certifications in data science from IBM and healthcare informatics from UChicago. A lifelong Midwesterner, he attended The University of Michigan-Dearborn and worked as an editor and writer after graduating in 2007. When he’s not crunching data, Tom enjoys movies, basketball and bicycling around Hyde Park.

Tom SuttonTom Sutton, MS
ETL Developer

With a strong education and professional background in information technologies, Tom is focused on the movement of data to and from the CRDW. He brings together disparate data sources, standardizes and organizes data for dissemination, and manages automated updating and delivery of data for ongoing research projects. Tom also handles ETL development, data investigations, query troubleshooting and optimization, database maintenance, and occasional application administration, and has worked on many ad-hoc efforts in and beyond research, such as for the Quality office.

Michael TieriMichael Tieri, MS
Healthcare Data Analyst

Michael holds degrees from the University of Iowa and DePaul University and has been with the CRI since May 2015. He has previously worked in consulting across a wide variety of organizations and verticals in the areas of reporting, data transformation and migration, and systems integration. Michael has extensive experience in SQL, a variety of Business Intelligence and reporting tools, and working with clients to define business and technical requirements. Other areas of interest include data quality/data profiling, data warehouse architecture and design, and technical documentation.

IT Infrastructure & Scientific Computing

Thorbjorn AxelssonThorbjörn Axelsson, MS 
Director of IT Infrastructure & Scientific Computing

With more than fifteen years experience in IT for research and higher education, Thorbjörn leads the CRI’s work of operating, expanding, and improving our secure computing infrastructure. He works closely with the BSD Information Security Office to ensure that the CRI’s resources and services remain the most secure and compliant available. Prior to joining the CRI in 2014, Thorbjörn was Associate Director of Enterprise Infrastructure at the University of Kansas. He has a broad range of IT expertise, with a background that includes management, research support, IT infrastructure on all levels, security, project management, IT architecture, and software development. Thorbjörn has a Master’s degree in Computing Science from University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and is particularly interested in research computing, IT architecture, and IT security.

Mike JarsulicMike Jarsulic
Manager of Scientific Computing

Mike Jarsulic is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and has been with the CRI since September 2012. He previously worked at the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin, PA, where he was a scientific programmer focused on modernizing thermal/hydraulic design software before moving into High Performance Computing. Mike is well-versed in a variety of programming languages including Fortran, C/C++, Java, and Perl. His other interests in HPC include distributed memory programming, compiler optimizations, and long-term reproducibility of results.

Olumide KehindeOlumide Kehinde
Manager of Infrastructure and Security

Olumide has over 15 years of extensive experience in IT design, integration, and management of enterprise systems and services. He has been with the CRI since 2012. He previously worked with Accenture LLP as a Solutions Quality Engineer, deploying and maintaining physical and virtual servers and storage systems as well as performing application and database deployments for quality assurance and testing. He was responsible for the migration of over 300 servers to a cloud infrastructure. He also worked as part of a technical project team in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, setting up three data centers and performing system deployments. He currently manages the CRI storage and backup infrastructures with over 1.7PB of data, and leads the help desk team. In his spare time, he enjoys making music.

Adebimpe Akinlolu
Linux Systems Administrator

Yi Du
HPC Systems Administrator

Yi holds an MS degree in Oceanography from the University of Maine. She has previously worked as a Computational Scientist at the BioHPC team in the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, worked closely with users in biomedical research, and been involved in various collaborative projects constructing efficient and reliable HPC applications. She is interested in continually improving and expanding the capacity of the HPC system towards serving more roles in a research-based setting.

Joe Sutton
Senior Systems Administrator

Joe has more than 15 years of experience in various IT roles from support to architect, with a constant focus on automation. He has worked with audit and compliance frameworks for data security and financial services, including SOC 2, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Most recently, he worked in the SaaS world with a focus on on resiliency and scalability. Outside of work, he focuses on analog hobbies like fermentation and growing food.

Joel Van Os
Senior Systems Administrator

Jonathan Wroblewski
Linux Systems Administrator


Dipti Ranganathan, MS

As Director of the CRI, Dipti leads our operations and strategic planning. She also serves as Assistant Dean for Academic & Administrative Information Systems for the BSD, leading the implementation of new technology solutions to improve strategic decision-making and operational efficiency. Dipti joined the BSD from University of Texas Southwestern, where she led strategic initiatives including technology support for clinical research, research administration, and academic and educational technology. Dipti has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master’s degree in Operations Research also from Berkeley, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego. She is a member of the American Medical Informatics Association and the Association for American Medical Colleges, Group on Information Resources. 

Caitlin Pike
Communications Manager

Caitlin is involved across the Biological Sciences Division in communication strategy, design, writing, and website development. She has worked with the CRI since 2012 and had a leading role in establishing our website, identity, and educational programming. In addition to the CRI, she works with the Pediatric Cancer Data Commons, BSD Dean’s Office, and Office for Master’s Education to plan and create communication strategies and content. Caitlin received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA. Outside of work, she is a yoga teacher and textile artist.

Lois VasquezLois Vasquez
Executive Assistant

Lois joined CRI in August 2017. In her previous position, she assisted the 2016 president of the American Physical Society in formulating his presidential platform, focusing on diversity initiatives. She also developed a significant portfolio in national science policy matters. Lois recently started graduate studies at the University of Chicago, with the intention of earning a PhD in environmental chemistry. Her interests include science policy and public outreach, women and URMs in the STEM pipeline, and sustainable development.