John Spencer is a Research Data Specialist I for the Health Systems Program for Global Pediatric Medicine. There is a geography to all human activity. This is especially true when it comes to health; where a person lives or works can significantly affect well-being. John Spencer’s interest in geography has produced a career focused on using data (especially geographic data) to improve health in countries around the world.
After receiving a degree in Geography, he focused on areas of medical underservice in rural communities in West Virginia and North Carolina. John authored several health care atlases for policymakers and physicians in both states. In 2000, his career turned toward global health when he joined the MEASURE Evaluation project, a global health system strengthening project funded by the US Agency for International Development.
While at MEASURE Evaluation, he led the Geospatial Sciences team and was a visible advocate for the use of data to support evidence-based decision-making. He worked with staff and leadership in health ministries around the world to develop tools and methods that transformed data into knowledge. His role gave him the chance to lead workshops and serve on technical working groups for WHO, USAID, and UNAIDS. He has authored or co-authored books, peer-reviewed articles, and other technical publications. Recently, John has begun exploring the use of data science approaches such as machine learning in a global health context.
For childhood and adolescent cancer patients, better data and better use of that data can ensure that treatment options are optimally located and effectively used. John was drawn to the work of the Global Pediatric Medicine Department at St. Jude because of its outstanding record around the world, he is excited about the opportunity to be part of the Department’s work.