Alumnus DJ Patil Named U.S. Chief Data Scientist

In February, DJ Patil, M.A. ’99, Ph.D. ’01, applied mathematics, was named deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist at the White House. In these roles, Patil will help shape policies and practices to help maximize the nation’s return on its investment in data. 

DJ Patil. Credit: Chris UsherSpecifically, he will help the United States acquire, process and leverage data in a timely fashion to create efficiencies, enable transparency, provide security and foster innovation. Patil will focus first on precision medicine. 

“Medical and genomic data provides an incredible opportunity to transition from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to health care towards a truly personalized system, one that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles in order to optimally prevent and treat disease,” says Patil, who shares credit for coining the term “data science.” 

Prior to joining the White House, Patil was vice president of product at RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce. He also previously held positions at LinkedIn, Greylock Partners, Skype, PayPal and eBay. Prior to his work in the private sector, Patil worked at the Department of Defense, where he focused on fields like social network analysis to help anticipate emerging threats to the United States. As a graduate student at Maryland, Patil used open data sets published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make major improvements in numerical weather forecasting.

This article was published in the Summer 2015 issue of Odyssey magazine. To read other stories from that issue, please visit

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