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Brian Dixon named to IBJ's 'Forty Under 40' list

Feb. 11, 2014

It isn’t every day that an IUPUI faculty member joins a star NFL quarterback and the author of a best-selling book bound for a Hollywood movie on a list of achievers. But that’s where health informatics expert Brian Dixon has found himself: on this year’s “Forty Under 40” list, selected by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Brian Dixon

Brian Dixon

Dixon is an information technology expert who teaches and conducts research in health informatics for the Regenstrief Institute and as a research scientist and faculty member in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, both based at IUPUI.

Finding out that he had been chosen for this year’s IBJ list was “quite an honor,” Dixon said.

“I’m still in awe about this whole thing,” he said. “When I saw the others on the list, including Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and author John Green, it hit me how big a deal this is.”

One of the biggest reasons Dixon is pleased with the honor is the potential to change public perception of his chosen field. 

“The recognition helps people understand that we are professionals, and it brings clarity to what our field is all about,” he said. “It highlights the fact that our work focuses on improving people’s health care outcomes, and to make information flow more seamlessly through the health care system.”

Dixon believes that informatics is reshaping health care on both personal and professional levels.

“The information systems that we design and implement help doctors and health care professionals make more effective decisions from both a safety and quality-of-care perspective,” he said. “But it also helps us to evaluate the types of decisions that professionals make, so we can see how decisions get made, which helps us re-engineer health care delivery processes and services.”

When he was an undergraduate at DePauw University, Dixon aspired to be a dentist. But he found himself more intrigued with information technology, which put him on the radar screen for the Regenstrief Institute, a health services research organization based at IUPUI and affiliated with the IU School of Medicine. It was the right place at the right time for Dixon, who said, “My work at Regenstrief excited me like nothing else, and turned me on to the possibilities that existed in changing health care for the better.”

Dixon believes a lot of his success comes from his penchant for being organized. "I was a project manager before I joined the faculty (in the School of Informatics and Computing), so I know what research budgets look like, how to set goals and milestones to get there.” He said his biggest advantage, though, is that he is very passionate about the field and has learned to see the bigger picture.

He’s been at Regenstrief since 2001 and a faculty member since 2011. He also holds an appointment at the Roudebush VA Medical Center, the type of connection he considers vital for health informatics.

“In my opinion, this is one of the top five places in the country, because our campus has the infrastructure to support our initiatives, one of the top medical schools in the country to conduct clinical trials, and a business community that is interested in our field and willing to push the envelope,” Dixon said. “That makes this a place that has the ability not only to come up with really good ideas, but to test them and bring them to life in the real world.”

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