Ruth E. Dayhoff
Ruth E. Dayhoff is a licensed physician, a pioneer in the field of bioinformatics, and the daughter of Dr. Margaret Dayhoff. Ruth has stated that she knew that computers would be important to the future of medicine and biology and she had to choose between the two after earning her degree in mathematics.
Making the decision to attend medical school, she received her medical degree from Georgetown University Medical School in 1977. While at Georgetown she began working with bioinformatics–the development of methods and software tools for understanding biological data. Part of this work was co-authoring the user’s manual for the MUMPS hospital records language. During her career she also served as Executive Director and Chair of the MUMPS Users Group North America.
Completing a second residency, this time in clinical pathology with a special emphasis on Laboratory Information Systems, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1980 she started to merge her interests in computerized image analysis and text data into multimedia patient records. These files can provide integrated information to doctors quickly and efficiently to optimized medical decision making.
By creating the VistA imaging computer program, she made a system that is used to manage images that can be associated with a patient’s medical record. In 1989 while an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Computer Medicine at George Washington University, Dayhoff was also selected to be the director of the VistA Imaging Project for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Acting as the national project manager she oversaw the integration of this multimedia patient record system with the existing VA computerized record system. This award winning database can capture and manage EKGs, pathology images, paperwork, and really any type of heath care image; which can then be shared between all medical professionals and improving the treatment patients receive.
A founding fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, Dayhoff was featured in the U.S. Library of Medicine’s exhibit on innovative women physicians.
Written by Angela Goad