The office of Jeff Hammerbacher at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine sits in the middle of one of the most stark economic divides in the nation. To Hammerbacher’s south are New York City’s posh Upper East Side townhouses. To the north, the barrios of East Harlem.
What’s below is most interesting: Minerva, a humming supercomputer installed last year that’s named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and medicine.
It’s rare to find a supercomputer in a hospital, even a major research center and medical school like Mount Sinai. But it’s also rare to find people like Hammerbacher, a sort of human supercomputer who is best known for launching Facebook’s data science team and, later, co-founding Cloudera, a top Silicon Valley “big data” software company where he is chief scientist today. After moving to New York this year to dive into a new role as a researcher at Sinai’s medical school, he is setting up a second powerful computing cluster based on Cloudera’s software (it’s called Demeter) and building tools to better store, process, mine, and build data models. “They generate a pretty good amount of data,” he says of the hospital’s existing electronic medical record system and its data warehouse that stored 300 million new “events” last year. “But I would say they are only scratching the surface.”