Scripps Translational Science Institute hires MLB executive Paul DePodesta

Major League Baseball executive Paul DePodesta, known for his role in the “Moneyball” era Oakland Athletics, is joining the faculty of the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI). DePodesta will serve as an STSI assistant professor of bioinformatics, beginning on Jan. 1.

“Paul brings a valuable outsider’s perspective to medicine that will help make the field more precise and more predictive through the analysis of the vast amounts of individualized data now being collected through genetic testing, wireless sensors and other technologies,” Eric Topol, MD, director of STSI, said in a statement. “We are excited to have him work with our informatics data scientists to jumpstart the ‘Moneyball’ of medicine.”

DePodesta will keep his current position with the New York Mets baseball franchise, where he is the vice president of player development and scouting. He is most famously known for his time with the Athletics; he was an assistant to the team’s general manager, Billy Beane, during a time documented by the Michael Lewis book “Moneyball” and a film by the same name. “Moneyball” is a term associated with the way Beane, DePodesta, and others used advanced statistical analysis to make various baseball management decisions.

In addition to his time with the Athletics, DePodesta has also worked for the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres.

In the official statement, DePodesta said this new position with STSI allows him to apply lessons he has learned in baseball to other areas of his life.

“In disciplines as disparate as baseball, financial services, trucking and retail, people are realizing the power of data to help make better decisions,” DePodesta said. “Medicine is just beginning to explore this opportunity, but it faces many of the same barriers that existed in those other sectors – deeply held traditions, monolithic organizational and operational structures, and a psychological resistance to change.”

DePodesta first got in touch with Topol after reading Topol’s book, “The Patient Will See You Now,” in 2014. He explained he was fascinated by the connection between sports and medicine, and the two talked about the subject at length.

AT STSI, DePodesta is expected to work on medical data projects with an analytics team led by Ali Torkamani, PhD., associate professor and director of genome informatics.