Sage Bionetworks appoints Susheel Varma as Chief Data Officer and Alberto Pepe as Vice President of Technology

SEATTLE, WA – Biomedical science is confronted with a major problem: data generation is vastly outpacing knowledge generation. Actionable health insights can only be achieved if fields go beyond just data storage and sharing, toward data reuse and recombination.

In service of this goal, Sage Bionetworks has appointed Susheel Varma, PhD, MBA, FBCS, as its new Chief Data Officer and Alberto Pepe, PhD, as its new Vice President of Technology.

Varma and Pepe will work closely to drive the organization’s technology product offerings, supporting an agile data strategy that increases the responsible reuse of data and its derivatives across multidisciplinary communities. They will oversee Sage’s platform and web engineering teams, as well as direct efforts focused on data coordination, community engagement and project management.

“I am excited for Susheel and Alberto to join forces and help us realize our vision of maximizing data visibility and findability among a diverse user base,” says Luca Foschini, PhD, President and CEO of Sage Bionetworks. “We want to be known not for the number of petabytes that Synapse manages, but for the communities behind that data and the impact they can make.”

The appointment of Varma and Pepe are part of Sage’s larger key objectives that focus on increasing data contributions, improving data usability, and building communities that can use data in impactful ways. These strategic goals will accelerate Sage’s longer term vision of breaking down scientific silos and advancing biomedical discovery through radical collaboration.

Varma joins Sage Bionetworks from the Information Commissioner’s Office, UK, where he was most recently Head of AI and Data Science. There he steered the inception and growth of the ICO AI & Data Science team, and together with his previous experience as Chief Technology Officer at Health Data Research UK, he developed national and global initiatives around ethical data use for health and research. Varma completed his PhD in Computational Systems Biology at the University of Sheffield, UK, and holds an MBA specializing in Management of Research Infrastructures from The University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy.

“I'm delighted to join Sage Bionetworks to help address the challenge of transforming our vast data into real-world health solutions,” says Varma. “By fostering an ecosystem where data is not just stored but actively reused and recombined, we aim to catalyze a shift from data quantity to quality - from counting things to doing things that count.”

Pepe was the co-founder of Authorea, an online collaborative writing platform that was later acquired by the publishing company Wiley. Most recently, he was Wiley’s Director of Strategy and Innovation, where he oversaw product positioning and technical program management. Pepe holds a PhD in Information and Data Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed postdoctoral research in Astrophysics from Harvard University.

“Having spent most of my career promoting and developing technological solutions for research collaboration, data sharing, and open science, I am thrilled to be working on a concrete application in the biomedical sciences, directly affecting researchers, practitioners, and public health outcomes worldwide,” says Pepe.

Varma and Pepe will add to the diverse expertise of Sage’s existing leadership team. This team consists of:

  • Luca Foschini, PhD, President & Chief Executive Officer
  • Kim Baggett, MPA, Chief Operating Officer
  • Anna Greenwood, PhD, Director Alzheimer’s Disease Translational Research
  • Christine Suver, PhD, Chief Privacy & Compliance Officer
  • Mackenzie Wildman, PhD, Chief of Staff

Reflecting the expanded leadership team and refined strategic direction, Sage Bionetworks also recently underwent a rebrand and redesigned its public-facing website. These significant changes highlight the evolution of the non-profit organization and reinforce its position at the cross-section of open science, artificial intelligence and medicine.

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