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The Real-World Impact of Analytics on Medicine, Global Health, and Health-Care Disparities

Dr. Aaron Foster, lecturer in Columbia University’s M.S. in Applied Analytics program, is a consultative executive with a career history of leading U.S. and global teams in business analytics, insights, and digital technologies. He is recognized for driving innovation within the field of data science and implementing agile practices for technology customer engagement solutions. Through his work as the vice president of Business Analytics and Insights at Pfizer, he has built vision-driven organizations that turn insights into action for senior-level stakeholders and improve enterprise revenue and cost savings.


What drew you to a career in applied analytics?

I enjoy the positive impact of leveraging analytics to solve real-world problems. My doctorate is in biostatistics, which brings together two core passions in my life. One is using mathematics to solve real-life problems, and the other is addressing the importance of health, disparities in health care, and health outcomes globally.

What aspect of your journey has allowed you to succeed in this industry?

Having aspirations, supporters, and a drive to achieve are all contributors to my journey, which I am proud of. I’ve had setbacks along the way, but I generally don’t dwell on them. I believe that achievements are built through a continuous journey of incremental accomplishments and challenges.

What industry trends are most important for students to be aware of when entering this field?

Analytics–artificial intelligence in particular–is being used for more and more healthcare challenges. Digital therapeutics, for example, is an emerging area focused on software and artificial intelligence-enabled interventions substantiated by evidence-based clinical studies. This is a realm that was once beyond the sphere of analytics-based solutions.

What do you enjoy most about your role as a business analyst?

The decisions we influence often affect medical development and how we communicate the value of medicines. I am tremendously proud of the impact that business analytics ultimately has on the health of patients.

What is one misconception about working in data analytics that you'd like to dispel?

An important misconception to dispel is that data and analytics are solely the domain of analysts. In today’s digital environment, all who seek to address challenges must understand and leverage data to inform their actions. The role of the analyst is to accelerate how this data can be used to impact increasingly more complex and important challenges.


Learn more about the Columbia University Applied Analytics program.