PCCI introduces its 2024 class of Sachs Summer Scholars Interns

PCCI introduces its 2024 class of Sachs Summer Scholars Interns

STEM focused program sets female students side-by-side with AI experts, data scientists and clinicians

PCCI’s summer intern program, Sachs Summer Scholars, Advancing Women in STEM and Technology Summer Internship, has begun, demonstrating PCCI’s ongoing commitment to improving gender diversity in the data science and technology industry. This program has become the one of the premier internship in North Texas that immerses students in meaningful, real word projects with actual impact. This includes providing each intern direct experience with innovative healthcare, groundbreaking artificial intelligence programs and social determinants of health projects. The aim is to support and promote practical applications of analytics, computing, and data science all while advancing the spirit of mentorship and advancement of female students.

The 2024 class of Sachs Summer Scholars includes seven women from diverse backgrounds, hailing from six different universities. Working side-by-side with PCCI clinical and data science experts to hone their programming and analytics skills while building life-long memories of meaningful accomplishments, the interns will work on core projects at PCCI including: disease surveillance systems, brain care predictive modeling, suicide risk screening, jail health and pediatric asthma risk prediction, to name a few.

This class will present findings based on their work with PCCI at a presentation on August 9th, at Pegasus Park.

The interns are, from left to right: Ozgur Aksoy, University of Texas – Dallas; Serap Ogut, Southern Methodist University; Autumn Carey Noon, Ohio State University; Bengisu Yarimbas, University of North Texas; Emily Thompson, Southern Methodist University; Ferona Bustani, University of Texas – Austin; Saniah Safat, University of Texas – Austin.

Cracking the Nutritional Puzzle: A Path Out Of Dallas’ Food Desert

Cracking the Nutritional Puzzle: A Path Out Of Dallas’ Food Desert

By Olayide “Olay” Adejumobi, Project Manager, PCCI

Recently, I was shocked to hear that North Texas is one of the hardest hit areas of the country for food insecurity. Shocked, but not surprised. As a registered dietitian and a participant in PCCI’s management of the Dallas Accountable Health Community (DAHC)[1] program, I have seen the Dallas County’s food depravations firsthand, and while this food desert may seem trackless, I believe that by using data, we have ways to create oases.

It turns out that Dallas County has the highest rate of food insecurity among counties in North Texas, with a rate of 15.6%, which is approximately nearly 407,000 residents, per a new report from Feeding America released by the North Texas Food Bank.

I couldn’t agree more with the statement made by Trisha Cunningham, President and CEO of the North Texas Food Bank, “In North Texas, where hunger affects more people than the populations of cities like Seattle or San Francisco, the most alarming statistic is that nearly 40% of those in need are children—a situation that is simply unacceptable.”

As an expert in nutrition, public health, I can tell you that the effects of food insecurity are pernicious and corrosive to families, communities and entire populations. These effects include:

  • Overall poor health and increased likelihood of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke
  • Mental and social stresses of food insecurity, can lead to social isolation and stigma, while leading to depression due to heightened stress and anxiety
  • Declining academic success: Children who have food insecurities may see an adverse effect on their mental and physical health, reducing their educational opportunities

Ending in 2022, PCCI managed the DAHC[1], a five-year initiative that tested whether identifying and addressing health related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries such as housing instability and quality, food insecurity, utility needs, interpersonal safety, and transportation, would reduce both in health costs and emergency department utilization – we found it did. As a part of the team, I was witness to the myriad of social, economic and health issues the most underserved residents of Dallas faced.

What I can tell you is that food insecurity isn’t just a statistic― it’s a lived reality for many in the southeastern areas of Dallas County.

What I can tell you is that food insecurity isn’t just a statistic― it’s a lived reality for many in the southeastern areas of Dallas County. I’ve seen how non-medical drivers of health can amplify health disparities and lead to adverse health outcomes when quality, nutritious, and affordable food isn’t within reach. The people in these areas grapple with food insecurity due to a complex interplay of non-medical factors. Which makes solving this issue more that just having grocery stores available in those areas, though that would definitely be a good start. The challenges these areas face include:

  • Economic Challenges: The neighborhoods in southeast Dallas have high poverty rates, making it a daily struggle for residents to afford nourishing food. Families often find themselves compelled to prioritize cheaper, less nutritious options due to limited financial resources.
  • Transportation Barriers: Full-service grocery stores, where fresh produce and essential items are readily available, are scarce in these areas, and the lack of reliable transportation compounds the problem, preventing residents from reaching distant grocery stores and compelling them to settle for less healthy options closer to home.
  • Educational Disparities: Low educational attainment in these areas leads to limited knowledge about nutrition and healthy eating, making it a daunting task for residents to make informed food choices.

My journey inside the community data PCCI collected has been an eye-opener. But it’s not just about the numbers we see; it’s about understanding the lives and stories behind those data points. Armed with this information, we have the potential to embark on a path to address food insecurity in these communities through:

  • Community Health Workers: These unsung heroes bridge the gap by providing education, resources, and emotional support to individuals and families in need. They connect people to local resources like food banks and assistance programs and help them develop coping strategies.
  • Community-Led Initiatives: Data-driven strategies can empower grassroots organizations and community leaders to tackle food insecurity head-on. With the PCCI’s data, we can pinpoint, at the block-level, areas of the greatest need and tailor interventions accordingly.
  • Local Government Support: Guided by data-driven insights, local government officials can allocate resources more effectively. Advocacy for policies promoting the establishment of grocery stores and farmers’ markets can be rooted in this specific data.
  • Transportation Solutions: PCCI’s data also identifies transportation deserts within the most underserved areas of Dallas, paving the way for improved public transportation options. This strategic approach can ensure residents can access grocery stores with greater ease.
  • Education and Outreach: Customized nutrition education programs and workshops, based on PCCI’s data, can empower residents to overcome educational disparities and make healthier food choices.

Since the conclusion of the DAHC program, PCCI has developed the Community Vulnerability Compass (CVC), which provides actionable data regarding social barriers to health, access, and well-being of a community’s most vulnerable populations at the block group level. This includes insights into the number of individuals who are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, which is a leading indicator of food insecurity.

With the CVC, PCCI has been able to learn more about the pressing issues at the block group level in the hardest hit areas of southeast Dallas. PCCI’s data has reinforced the importance of understanding the unique challenges faced by these communities. Through leveraging this data, we can develop new community-led initiatives to engage residents and foster healthier, more resilient communities. The ultimate goal is to ensure equitable access to resources that enable all Dallas residents―regardless of their neighborhood, to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

About Olayide “Olay” Adejumobi

Olay is a seasoned healthcare professional with ten years of clinical experience and five years of medical nutrition therapy and disease management experience. As a clinical project manager, she collaborated with cross-functional key stakeholders primarily focused on patient outcomes. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and Public Health plus a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration and Information Analytics from Texas Tech University.

[1] This project was supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $4.5M with 100 percent funded by CMS/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CMS/HHS or the U.S. Government. Although PCCI’s participation in the AHC Model is now over and CMS is no longer affiliated, we are continuing aspects of the program established during our participation in the Model. 

Pegasus Park Non-profit Innovators Collaborating with PCCI’s Community Vulnerability Compass, Offering Custom Data Insights to Accelerate Each Organization’s Efforts

Pegasus Park Non-profit Innovators Collaborating with PCCI’s Community Vulnerability Compass, Offering Custom Data Insights to Accelerate Each Organization’s Efforts

Sponsored by the Water Cooler at Pegasus Park, The Dallas Foundation, and Lyda Hill Philanthropies, seven tenants at the Pegasus Park innovation hub are participating in a community of practice utilizing PCCI’s Community Vulnerability Compass (CVC) to help further their community-driven missions.

PCCI’s CVC is a technology toolkit that provides customized, foundational insights on community needs and complements insights generated by individual organizations. Through an easy‐to‐use web‐based dashboard, the CVC offers summarized information and root-cause details of neighborhood vulnerabilities that drive inequity. PCCI’s CVC is leveraged by organizations around the state, such as the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, to improve their understanding of the community they serve. Through a fuller understanding of these root causes, these innovative organizations can better align efforts to create connected communities and develop better programs, resources, and interventions to eliminate disparities, achieve health equity, and improve the lives, health and well‐being of underserved residents and communities.

The participating Water Cooler-based organizations include innovative non-profits with missions to build a better community for all. They are:

The City Year AmeriCorps members serve in schools all day, every day, preparing students with the social, emotional, and academic skills and mindsets to succeed in school and in life.

The Grant Halliburton Foundation works to strengthen the network of mental health resources for children, teens, and young adults; promote better mental health; and prevent suicide.

The Junior Achievement of Dallas (JA Dallas), a nonprofit organization impacts the lives of students by teaching life skills in budgeting, careers, and business start-ups. JA Dallas’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy through volunteer-delivered curriculum.

Social Venture Partners Dallas is committed to helping individuals realize greater impact with their giving, strengthening nonprofits, and investing in collaborative solutions.

Texas Trees serves as a catalyst in creating a new green legacy for North Texas through transformational, research-based plans that educate and mobilize the public to activate the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits that trees and urban forestry provide for a better quality of life.

The Commit Partnership is a collective impact organization composed of hundreds of partners across Dallas County and the state of Texas supported by a dedicated ‘backbone’ staff of 60+ professionals.

Established as the first community foundation in Texas in 1929, the Dallas Foundation brings together people, ideas, and investments in Greater Dallas so individuals and families can reach their full potential. Over the course of the Foundation’s history, it has granted over $1B to the full spectrum of community-centered causes.

“We are honored to partner with and support our colleagues at the Water Cooler at Pegasus Park with the capabilities that the CVC offers,” said Steve Miff, CEO of PCCI. “The program’s sponsors, Water Cooler at Pegasus Park, The Dallas Foundation, and Lyda Hill Philanthropies, are strong supporters of the missions of each of the participating organizations and we are exceedingly grateful to them for helping support these collaborations to build a better community.”

Water Cooler’s mission is to support organizations in their quest to attract and retain talent, engender collaboration among members, reduce administrative costs, and ultimately, increase collective impact on key social issues. Water Cooler’s nonprofit and philanthropic tenants are co-located among five floors and roughly 175,000 square feet within Pegasus Park’s main 18-story tower in Dallas. The Water Cooler at Pegasus Park is sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies, in partnership with J. Small Investments and Montgomery Street Partners and managing partner The Dallas Foundation.

PCCI, founded in 2012, is a not-for-profit, healthcare innovation and research organization affiliated with Parkland Health. PCCI leverages clinical expertise, data science, and social determinants of health to address the needs of vulnerable populations. 

PCCI’s CEO named a top AI leader by Dallas Innovates, and the Dallas Regional Chamber

PCCI’s CEO named a top AI leader by Dallas Innovates, and the Dallas Regional Chamber

Dallas Innovates, the Dallas Regional Chamber, and Dallas AI have teamed up to launch the inaugural AI 75 list. The 2024 program honors the most significant people in AI in DFW in seven categories—the visionaries, creators, and influencers you need to know. Included in this list, under the “AI Impact Innovators” category is Steve Miff, PhD, CEO of PCCI.

Listed as a “Healthcare Hero” the AI 75 sites many of PCCI’s successful implementations of AI modeling:

“Miff serves on multiple committees guiding AI policy and implementation at Dallas’s Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, where he’s president and chief executive. Under his leadership, the nonprofit center has developed cutting-edge solutions using artificial intelligence to advance the health and well-being of underserved individuals and populations. Examples include a unique, in-patient model that can identify and intervene in high-risk sepsis cases; a system designed to prevent pediatric asthma; and an innovative, preterm birth prevention program to better serve pregnant women. Miff also has been active nationally, helping to draft codes of conduct and “best practices” guides as AI continues to progress at a rapid pace.”

To read the full story, go to: https://dallasinnovates.com/presenting-the-first-ever-ai-75-meet-the-most-innovative-leaders-in-artificial-intelligence-in-dallas-fort-worth/

WATCH: PCCI leader shares insight on emerging technology and behavioral health

WATCH: PCCI leader shares insight on emerging technology and behavioral health

In this video interview from HIMSS24 with Jacqueline Naeem, MD, PCCI’s Senior Medical Director, shares with FinThrive her views on what new technology innovations are supporting mental health as well as what passions drive her as a physician.

To watch the video click here: https://studio.marketscale.com/StudioMail/dmJzaZ7KNPYV1el4RAwqG2NZqwV2ng905W6jopLyb3rDxX8O

Video: Exploring Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: An Interview with PCCI Experts

Video: Exploring Predictive Analytics in Healthcare: An Interview with PCCI Experts

Digital Health featured PCCI’s Yusuf Tamer, PhD, and Parkland’s Nainesh Shah, MD, at HIMSS24. In this interview, the two discussed the use of predictive analytics models that improve patient outcomes with respect to sepsis.

To watch the video, click here:


In the News: PCCI Programs Included In List of Top Predictive Analytics Roundup

In the News: PCCI Programs Included In List of Top Predictive Analytics Roundup

HealthIT Analytics included PCCI’s suicide screening and preterm birth prevention in its roundup story of “10 high-value use cases for predicative analytics in healthcare”

To read the full story, click here:


Publications: PCCI experts contribute to paper published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM Group).

Publications: PCCI experts contribute to paper published by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM Group).

PCCI’s George Oliver, MD, PhD, Vice President, Clinical Informatics and Venkatraghavan Sundaram, PhD, M. Pharm, Program Manager, contributed to this paper, along with many others, on the “Pragmatic Trial of Hospitalization Rate in Chronic Kidney Disease.”

To read the full paper, click here: