Rui Zhang Named a McKnight Presidential Fellow

Mar. 25, 2019

Rui Zhang, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy and Institute for Health Informatics core faculty, has been named a 2019-2022 McKnight Presidential Fellow. He will receive the award at the University Board of Regents meeting in May.

The McKnight Presidential Fellows Program is a three-year award given to the most promising faculty who have been newly granted both tenure and promotion to associate professor. It recognizes recipients based on excellence in research and scholarship, leadership, potential to build top-tier programs, and ability to advance the University's priorities. Zhang is one of seven faculty members selected for this University-wide award, which will support his research and scholarly activities.

Zhang is a data scientist who develops health informatics methods and applies them to advance the promise of precision medicine. His research provides innovative methods of capturing and filtering through volumes of health and biomedical big data to make novel discoveries about the safety and effectiveness of medical care and drug therapy. He specializes in natural language processing (NLP) and he is also the leader of the NLP collaborative science services offered within the Best Practices Integrated Informatics Collaborative Science and Service Core of the CTSI Biomedical informatics Program.

"I'm truly humbled and appreciative to receive the McKnight Presidential Fellowship Award," Zhang said. "Receiving this award is important to me as it was recognition of my academic achievements and my dedication in the research areas of health informatics. I will continue to develop innovative and practicable computational methods and tools to advance health care and precision medicine."

Through his research, Zhang has created an innovative translational informatics framework, which enables the generation of hypotheses about clinical issues by mining the electronic biomedical literature for patterns and by validating the findings with electronic health record data from large patient care systems. This signal-generating system accelerates the rate of recognizing new patterns and consequences of health care. This framework has been applied to drug-nutrition supplement interactions, pharmacogenomics-drug relationships, and other clinical applications.

An established independent researcher, Zhang is also highly productive through collaboration with other clinicians and researchers. In 2017, he received a prestigious NIH R01 grant with a total amount over $1.15 million. His papers have been selected as Journal of Biomedical Informatics Editor’s Choice, nominated as AMIA distinguished papers several times, and reported by the Wall Street Journal. Zhang is also a well-rounded educator and scholar and a committed member of the academic community.


The College of Pharmacy,