Gretchen Purcell Jackson, MD, PhD, FACS, FACMI, FAMIA

Associate Professor
Department of Pediatric Surgery
Associate Professor
Department of Biomedical Informatics
Vice President, Scientific Medical Officer
Digital at Intuitive Surgical
President and Board Chair
American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)
2200 Children's Way
Room / Suite
Nashville, TN
(615) 936-1050
(615) 936-1046

Dr. Purcell Jackson was featured in Nashville Medical News in July 2021. Read more about her here!

Patient Care Emphasis

General pediatric surgery, laparoscopic surgery, with a strong interest in both fetal and neonatal surgical technique.


  • Ph.D., Medical Information Sciences, Stanford University, 1997
  • M.D., Stanford University, 1996
  • B.A.,  Electrical Engineering and Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Postgraduate Training

  • Chief Resident, General Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC Fellowships, 2003-04
  • Fellow, Pediatric Surgery, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 2004-06


Rapidly evolving communication technologies such as the Internet and social media offer patients and families powerful tools for communicating with healthcare institutions and managing their health. Dr. Jackson’s research in biomedical informatics focuses on using such technologies to empower patients and families to take an active role in their health care. Her work has studied the usage of MyHealthAtVanderbilt, a web-based patient portal that allows patients and families seen at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to interact with the healthcare system.

MyHealthAtVanderbilt offers a diverse set of functions, including secure messaging between patients and healthcare providers. Dr. Jackson’s work has shown that actual medical care is delivered through the portal messaging. For example, new problems are identified, and referrals are made or medications are adjusted. Her laboratory has identified ethnic and racial disparities in use of the messaging function, and thus, disparities in access to care that may be created by patient portal technologies. Ongoing research projects seek to identify and address the causes of these disparities. Other projects are evaluating the level of care delivered through the messaging function and investigating whether messaging interactions constitute billable services.

Dr. Jackson’s group has also developed self-management tools for MyHealthAtVanderbilt. One tool allows patients to set and track health-related goals, and it may serve as the basis of managing a wide variety of chronic health conditions that are treated with behavioral modifications. This tool is currently being evaluated in a randomized trial to address obesity in an employee wellness program.


Dr. Purcell has published over 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has made numerous scientific presentations. Review some of her abstracts on PubMed.