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In 2009, Isaac Kohane and colleagues were able to display the potential of mining existing medical records, showing that they could diagnose a patient suffering domestic abuse a full two years before the system would detect it, simply by using discharge data from emergency room patients across Massachusetts. Kohane is chair of Harvard Medical School’s new Department of Biomedical Informatics.

Big data, massive potential

Across Harvard, programs and researchers are mining vast quantities of computerized information, sometimes revolutionizing their fields in the process