Data analysis isn’t brain surgery. And Dr. Nicholas Marko isn’t a typical neurosurgeon.
Maximizing the potential applications of an organization’s information and freeing its data from constraints that impede end-user access are the driving forces behind the work of Dr. Nicholas Marko. He is a clinical neurosurgeon who has evolved into a leading healthcare data strategist and executive-level proponent of data-driven innovation.
Named a “young investigator on the rise” by Genome Technology Magazine, a “healthcare hero” by Crain’s Cleveland Business, and one of “healthcare’s top data-driven geeks” by Healthcare IT News, Nick’s data and informatics thought leadership has been featured in the Washington Post, Modern Healthcare, and other leading publications. He has also regularly published and been a featured speaker on clinical and translational neurosurgery topics, as well as topics such as the role of the chief data officer, enterprise data strategy and valuation, data modeling, integration of multi-modality data sets, and practical issues related to healthcare econometrics.
Nick doesn’t just advocate for change; he leads it. His relentless sense of urgency and exceptional stamina combine with a keen awareness of the need to engage all levels of an organization in its data utilization processes to create a culture of “yes” around enterprise data. He leverages an uncommon combination of unbridled curiosity, creative problem solving, and serious business acumen, and, as a result, his clinical research and entrepreneurial activities have always concentrated on solving real-world problems with data-driven solutions that can be implemented with immediate business and clinical impact.
During his training at the world’s top tier academic and research institutions, Nick developed an expertise at the intersection of clinical medicine, applied mathematics, complex data analysis, high performance computing, computational biology, and innovation. Graduating from the George Washington University at the top of both his undergraduate class in 2000 and medical school class in 2005, Nick also spent 2003-2004 as a Howard Hughes Institute Medical Student Fellow at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) working with the computational biology and human gene expression groups to generate and analyze large genomic data sets. After completing neurosurgery residency at Cleveland Clinic in 2011, he was awarded the prestigious American Association of Neurological Surgeons William P. VanWagenen fellowship. This allowed him to conduct additional training and research using large-scale data sets at the interface of applied mathematics and translational oncology with the University of Cambridge Department of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Cancer Institute. When he returned to the United States, he completed a neurosurgical oncology fellowship in 2013 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and focused his research during this time on personalized predictive analytics for patients with brain cancer.
As his translational research work expanded in scope and application during these diverse academic experiences, Nick gained valuable insights into the common short-comings of enterprise-wide data strategy. He founded Sigma Horizon in 2012 to guide organizations in their efforts to free data from and constraints that prevent end-users from accessing it and to maximize the business potential of organizations existing data and new technologies.
In 2013, Nick joined Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania, to direct the neurosurgical oncology program, the mathematical and computational neurosciences research group, and high performance computing. In addition to creating and leading the data science and engineering department and the unified data oversight committee, he served as the health system’s first Chief Data Officer. In this role he oversaw the organization's efforts in Data Science, Data Governance, Enterprise Data Management, and Enterprise Data Strategy, and he led the development and implementation of the organization's first enterprise-grade big data infrastructure. During this time he also helped to found the International Society of Chief Data Officers (isCDO), for which he still serves as a founding board member.
Nick stepped down from the CDO role in 2016 and now advises startups, enterprises, and venture capital organizations that leverage innovative technologies to transform healthcare. He also continues his clinical practice as the Director of Neurosurgical Oncology at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.