Group Leader, Institute Director
Georgia (Gina) Tourassi received a B.S. degree in physics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Duke University. She joined ORNL in 2011 as the director of the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Center after a long academic career in the department of radiology and the medical physics graduate program at Duke University Medical Center. She is currently distinguished research scientist, director of the Health Data Sciences Institute (HDSI), and group leader of the Biomedical Science, Engineering, and Computing (BSEC) group at ORNL. As institute director, Dr. Tourassi develops and manages its strategic agenda, scientific priorities, and roadmap while still leading her independent research activities. In addition, she is adjunct professor of radiology at Duke University and the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, joint UT-ORNL faculty of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the Bredesen Center.
Dr. Tourassi’s research background and interests are in medical imaging, computer-assisted decision making, clinical informatics, human-computer interaction, and scalable data-driven biomedical discovery. She has made major contributions as a medical imaging informatics researcher, a pioneer in digital cancer epidemiology, and a leader in health data sciences. In medical imaging informatics, her research has been featured in numerous high profile publications and resulted in one patent, four invention disclosures, and a 2014 R&D100 Award. Building upon her multi-modality knowledge discovery expertise and taking advantage of the unique computing resources at ORNL, Dr. Tourassi pursued a new big health data research direction in digital cancer epidemiology for which she secured competitive funding under the Provocative Research Questions mechanism from the National Cancer Institute. This research has resulted in a pending patent, four invention disclosures, placement on the 2015 R&D100 finalist list, and recognition by NCI as a highly successful investigator.
Her scholarly work includes more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles, conference proceedings articles, book chapters, editorials, and conference abstracts (https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=O_0diUoAAAAJ&hl=en). Dr. Tourassi is a member of several scientific societies with extensive service records, chaired an international medical imaging conference, served on the technical committees of biomedical informatics conferences, organized and led workshops for international conferences in medical informatics, serves regularly on invited expert panels, and prepared educational material and refresher courses. She has been recognized as a leading expert in her fields of expertise by being appointed Charter member of NIH Study sections and being elected member of the FDA Advisory Committee and review panel on Computer-Aided Diagnosis Devices. In 2015 she was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and in 2017 she was elected Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). She is also senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Neural Network Society (INNS)
In her leadership roles at ORNL, Dr. Tourassi works methodically to raise ORNL’s presence and role in the biomedical sciences domain. To date, she has organized three highly successful annual biomedical conferences at ORNL and built strategic partnerships with prestigious biomedical institutions. Dr. Tourassi presents and advocates regularly ORNL’s biomedical research and health data sciences portfolio to DOE, NIH, VA, FDA, medical societies, the Tennessee Department of Health, and academic institutions. She reports annually to ORNL’s Scientific Advisory Board and led the Human Health Committee of the Big Science Questions exercise at ORNL. In the past few years she has been directly involved with the DOE-NCI and DOE-VA partnerships announced by Vice President Biden in 2016 on the deployment of exascale computing to enable precision medicine advances for cancer and the US Veterans. For her leadership in the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer initiative, she received the DOE Secretary’s Appreciation Award in 2016 and the HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Award for “Best Use of AI” in 2017. In addition, in 2017 Dr. Tourassi received the ORNL Director's Award for Outstanding Individual Accomplishment in Science and Technology and the UT-Battelle Distinguished Researcher Award.
Throughout her career in academia and ORNL, Dr. Tourassi has been a dedicated mentor and passionate advocate and supporter of minorities in STEM. As an active member of several scientific societies, she regularly volunteers for the mentorship roundtables at scientific conferences. She is involved with the women’s mentorship program at ORNL and regularly mentors students through the Department of Energy scholarship programs. The majority of her mentees have pursued advanced degrees, and successful careers and leadership positions in academia and industry, which she considers one of her greatest accomplishments.