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Meet Taha A. Kass-Hout, M.D., M.S., Chief Health Informatics Officer

Taha A. Kass-Hout, M.D., M.S., FDA Chief Health Information Officer

Taha Kass-Hout serves as FDA’s first Chief Health Informatics Officer, bringing over sixteen years of experience in health, public health, and informatics. He has experience providing long and short-term strategic, operational, and tactical planning activities for the public and private sector. He is credited with launching the first Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) program hosted completely in the Internet Cloud, in alignment with the White House Cloud Initiative.

In 2003, Taha played an active role in the SARS response, as the lead for information management and the development of eQuest: a web-based data collection and analysis platform for CDC and its partners. During the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2009-2010, he supported CDC’s rapid scale-up of monitoring hospital emergency department visits for influenza-like illness in coordination with state and local public health agencies. In 2012, he co-chaired the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Biosurveillance sub-committee dealing with “detecting aberrations from the norm.”

Taha has been a strong advocate in bringing agile development practices to the federal government and a leader in open government and believes in the power of fostering an environment where collaboration and innovation can transcend organizational boundaries. He identifies opportunities where disruptive technologies and scientific methods can provide a powerful, cost effective response in an environment where timeliness can save lives.

Taha is recognized for the following innovations:

  • InSTEDD’s Riff, [InSTEDD was fielded by Google, Inc. in 2006], an Open Source Social Networking Platform for Integrated Early Warning and Response. On Jan 17 2010, the Thomson Reuters Foundation used Riff to launch a first-of-its kind, free disaster-information service for the people of Port Au Prince, Haiti. This allowed survivors of Haiti's earthquake to receive critical information by text message directly to their phones, free of charge.
  • The Global Disease Surveillance Platform (GDSP™) and Corresponding System and Method, patent US 2009/0319295 A1—Taha Kass-Hout and Massimo Mirabito, a situation awareness platform to help predict, monitor, detect early, and enable timely response to public health events; such as a pandemic influenza.

Previously, Taha co-chaired CDC’s Information Resources Governance Council (IRGC) along with the Chief Information Officer. IRGC is the standing governance entity of CDC’s Executive Leadership Board and is responsible for providing effective oversight and guidance for the management and use of information, IT services and systems.

As the Chief Health Informatics Officer (CHIO) for FDA, Taha provides leadership in the development and implementation of information systems that support the missions of the directorates, centers, physicians and scientists at FDA and serves as the subject matter expert on scientific computing and data systems. He supports systems for the review, approval and inspection of medical products and devices, food products, tobacco and veterinary medicine. In his role, Taha participates in education and research programs that support clinical quality and safety initiatives for FDA and leads various national and international committees representing the needs and requirements of the medical and clinical community, while serving as an advocate for the use of information technology in the medical and clinical setting.

Taha holds a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, and a Master of Science from the University of Texas, School of Public Health, Department of Biostatistics. In addition, he has had clinical training at Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston.

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