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Meet Mia Champion, advisor to the Data Collaboration Alliance

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

Based in Seattle, Mia has been a global trailblazer in life sciences, healthcare, machine learning, and cloud computing. She's committed to helping shape a future where technology contributes to the betterment of humanity.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Mia Champion and I'm a Senior Technical Manager at Amazon Web Services. My focus area is in Machine Learning Product Strategy with a special interest in healthcare and life sciences before coming to AWS I had a career as a Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Scientist studying cancer and infectious pathogens.

What's your relationship with data?

So data is an integral part of my life and business and I believe also an integral part of our society. More and more everyday activities and transactions are data-driven. Everything from getting takeout to online shopping to managing your personal health care.

So as a result, secure data access, as well as continuous governance and management, have become foundational really to us successfully maintaining our own personal lives and businesses as well as maintaining a functional society.

I can say my relationship with data really scaled beyond me being an individual data point myself when I was a research scientist and genomic sequencing data sets started reaching terabyte and petabyte scales. It started becoming very difficult to perform the comparative analysis that was needed using on-premise servers and monolithic applications.

I can very painfully remember data capacity-induced bottlenecks and recall memories of having to copy, ship, and receive countless two terabyte external hard drives to and from collaborators so that we could share our data and complete the analysis that we needed to do for a project. This way of sharing the data created incredible delays access issues and raise serious security risk concerns.

The other challenge with working with health data is the data is frequently incomplete. It's inconsistent for many reasons and it's often unstructured, with information contained in very disparate formats originating from many different sources that might include clinical notes, medical images, laboratory notes, genetic panel data, even time-series data from heart or brain traces, and so on.

We need better ways to enable our healthcare providers, patients, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies to store access, transform query, and analyze this data at scale. We need to enable physicians with the ability to evaluate the health of their individual patients over the course of their lifetime and also evaluate them in the context of larger patient cohorts or patient populations. And we need to enable this in a secure, compliant, and auditable manner.

I think that's really why I enjoy working at AWS. Because I believe that cloud computing provides the infrastructure needed to enable the secure sharing of data and sharing data in the cloud allows data users, including researchers, to spend more time on data science rather than data acquisition.

Solving data sharing problems allows us to focus on analysis and on building new services on top of the data using available cloud compute and data analytics products. Advanced analytics and modeling of shared data using machine learning allow us to understand very complex relationships or identify trends and make educated predictions from the data.

Why the Data Collaboration Alliance?

I would actually reverse engineer a quote from my daughter's favorite movie "The Lion King" that says we are all connected in the circle of life.

I would say life is a collection of data points that connects us all and the Data Collaboration Alliance thinks of data as more of an interactive fabric or a network of data that eliminates the need for copying or duplicating the data and instead places the demand on developing smart and safe ways for us to share and access the data.

I believe that they are leading important change in the way we as a society view our data and they're driving the innovations we need in order to make the most of our data for future generations.

Your invitation

So I want to invite people to visit the website to learn more about data ownership, privacy, and security, and ways to provide safe access enabling data collaborations. We save lives by securely sharing and analyzing data

This is important so please consider getting involved!


The Data Collaboration Alliance is a nonprofit working to advance data ownership through pilot projects in sustainability, healthcare, education, and social inclusion. We also offer free training in the Data Collaboration methodology. Check out The Data Drop podcast on our website or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.


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