A 45-year-old Indian-American Dhanurjay ‘DJ’ Patil has been named the first chief data scientist by the White House to shape policies and practices that will help the US remain a leader in technology and innovation.
Patil— who has worked with several big-name Silicon Valley operations, including LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Skype, and venture capital firm Greylock Partners. Prior to his work in the private sector, Patil worked at Department of Defence, where he directed efforts to bridge computational and social sciences in fields like social network analysis to help anticipate new threats to the US.
Patil will now work as Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, reporting to US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. He will also work on the Obama administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which focuses on utilising advances in data and healthcare to provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients, while protecting patient privacy.
Over the course of two decades of work in the private and public sectors and in academia, Patil has pioneered new ways for institutions to benefit from data. As a doctoral student and faculty member at the University of Maryland, Patil used open datasets to improve weather forecasting. He worked briefly for the Department of Defense, advising on efforts to use social network analysis, for example, to anticipate emerging threats to the United States. Most recently, he was the vice president of product at enterprise software company RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce last July.
Patil is moving his family to Washington where he’ll play a role in helping the United States government maximize its investments in big data and advise on policy issues and technology practices. And like his tech peers, he’ll be recruiting others to the cause. Patil will also be devoting time to the Administration’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which focuses on giving clinicians new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients, while protecting patient privacy.
In a memorandum to the American people, Patil said his role as chief data scientist will be to responsibly source, process, and leverage data in a timely fashion to enable transparency, provide security, and foster innovation for the benefit of the American public.
“Data will continue to transform the way we live and work,” Patil said.
He has authored a number of articles and books explaining the important current and potential applications of data science.