2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Daniel Chow, UC Irvine (Merage)

Daniel Chow

The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine

Age: 36

“I am a physician-scientist that wants to expand digital care to improve health and well-being.”

Hometown: Irvine, CA

Family Members: Three, including my wife, Ayako Chow, married since 2010. Also, two boys, Nathanael (Age 5) and Jeremiah (Age 4)

Fun fact about yourself: When not working, I love working and building Legos. Currently working on the Millennium Falcon set with my two boys.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • S., Biological Sciences – University of California, Riverside
  • D., University of California, Los Angeles
  • Residency, Columbia University Medical Center, New York
  • Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco

Where are you currently working?

  • The University of California, Irvine (UCI) – Assistant Professor in Residence
  • United States Army Reserves – Major (O-4)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:


  • Co-Director, Center for Artificial Intelligence in Diagnostic Medicine, UCI
  • Co-Director, Precision Health through Artificial Intelligence, UCI
  • Co-founder, Avicenna.ai, La Ciotat France

Extra-Curricular Work / Services:

  • Reviewer, Nature Methods, American Journal of Neuroradiology, Radiology, Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, Cancers
  • Postgraduate Education Committee, University of California, Irvine
  • Executive Committee, University of California Stroke Consortium

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In my operations course, we selected my department as a target for operational improvements. One of the challenges in radiology is acquiring images efficiently, which can be particularly challenging for critically ill patients. While multipronged, one of the solutions would be the early adoption of a bedside, point-of-care MRI. We were able to successfully present this proposal to our administration, which allowed us to procure the device. As a result, my hospital is one of the early adopters and presently the only west coast hospital operating this new tool.

This tool could not have been timelier for the COVID-19 pandemic, where we saw increasing numbers of critically ill patients. Also, we were able to spare valuable nursing and respiratory therapist resources. In the past, a transport team of nurses, a respiratory therapist, and technicians would have to work together to bring patients to our scanner. Instead, we can now bring the scanner to the patient for a select group. Also, this has significantly improved the turnaround time for imaging this vulnerable patient group. Furthermore, we have seen operational improvements of our other imaging resources due to reducing overly complex patients from fixed scanners.

As a result, our institution has been recognized as a leader in this space, and I have been invited by the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) and Becker’s Review to share our initial experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of a life-saving digital tool that we deployed at my hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Within three months of our first COVID-19 patient, our group was able to engage stakeholders from multiple disciplines to develop a tool that could forecast a patients risk of severe outcomes (e.g., requiring oxygen or intensive care). Moreover, we were able to place these tools into the hands of our clinical teams, which is now part of the routine pathway for all COVID-19 patients. This speaks to my vision of having a healthcare system that can treat and improve the health of that 101st patient with the experience and guidance of the preceding patients – in real-time. Additionally, I was able to engage one of my classmates who also works at my hospital to leverage this solution for her hospital at home initiatives and also work with Alpesh Amin, an alumnus of the EMBA program, to tie this tool for treatment guidance, which lead to a government award/funding. We have since expanded our horizons and are focusing on replicating the success for other healthcare clinical and operational challenges.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Vijay Gurbaxani. His research and efforts in Digital Transformation have been inspiring. Learning how to analyze and understand the ways emerging information technologies enable innovation, and how to think strategically in this rapidly changing landscape, has already impacted my career in multiple ways. Vijay, like our other professors, would always make himself available for any question and comment, and I often found myself staying well after the lecture ended to discuss these topics.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program?I chose UCI because of the digital focus. Practically every course, whether it’s strategy, negotiation, or operations, finds a way to incorporate the rapidly-changing landscape due to digital innovations and disruptions.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? In my negotiation class, I learned about expanding the pie rather than splitting the difference. This was a completely new concept for me, about how negotiation can create value for both parties. Recently, I had to negotiate the renewal of my own center. Having this knowledge allowed me to expand beyond just a bottom lime budget. Instead, we were able to find shared value for specific projects and mutual interests for joint hires and expansion.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I could not have done this program without a supportive spouse and colleagues. The peak business occurred during Spring 2020. I was juggling a new stay-at-home school system for my kids, switching my center’s direction to meet the needs of the COVID pandemic, complete grant applications, and juggle my coursework. It was not a breeze, but I think I (and many peers in similar challenges) all rose to the challenge. This was an “all hands on deck” moment for many of us. It also helped that I had several health care providers in my executive MBA course, and we were able to share stories and ideas of what worked and didn’t work.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Learn as much as you can from not just your professors, but your classmates. The shared experience that my colleagues had was invaluable. Some of these connections have become partners in projects and collaborators for other projects.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? First, it’s never too late. I had some other classmates who were just fine. Second, there will never be an “ideal” time. Life is always busy, and I wish I had done the program earlier.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not doing it sooner! I had co-founded our AI center a year before the MBA. I recall going through the courses how I wish I had this knowledge and insight during the formation.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Wow, this is a tough one. Michael Raths stands out to me. We’ve been in several groups together and he has always been a natural leader. He is humble, recognizing his limits, but also possesses unique talents in oratory skills (which has helped a lot for several group presentations). I’m most impressed with his ability to bring in humor, which was much needed during this busy time.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I was most eagerly looking forward to meeting and learning from my classmates. I’m glad that we a portion of this in person before it became partially online.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To continue to gain leadership experience while also building my network. I fully believe that these digital health solutions, including AI and advanced analytics, will become increasingly more relevant. And I want to ensure that I am not only part of it, but also contributing to the conversation.

What made Daniel such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“I have had the pleasure of interacting with and getting to know Dr. Chow as a student in my class, Competing With Digital: Technology, Analytics, and Business Models. Dr. Chow is a professional of extraordinary ability and he is already demonstrating his leadership abilities, applying his learnings from the Executive MBA (EMBA) program to great effect at UCI Health.

By way of introduction, my name is Vijay Gurbaxani and I am Taco Bell Endowed Professor of Business and Computer Science and Director of the Center for Digital Transformation (CDT) at the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine. My research involves specialized areas of knowledge, especially digital economics  and digital transformation.

Dan is an Assistant Professor of Radiological Science and Neurology at UC Irvine’s School of Medicine and Co-Director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Diagnostic Medicine at UCI Health. He brought an understanding of the scope of the healthcare challenges in the country and more than most students in the class, was tech savvy, especially in Artificial Intelligence. He understood that leaders with new capabilities were necessary to address the challenges in healthcare. To acquire these capabilities, he decided to enroll in the Merage EMBA program.

Focusing more specifically on the learnings from my course, Dan came into the program with an understanding of the use of digital technologies in medicine, but as a physician, less so on how to frame and evaluate the benefits and competitive advantage they offer. My class provides a framework to understand how business transformation is occurring in all fields using digital technologies as the means, and how to improve the productivity and competitiveness of all enterprises with technology. As “luck” would have it, my class was offered between January and March 2021, coincident with a particularly bad spread of COVID-19 in our region.

During the class, in which he excelled, he demonstrated his superior understanding of the  value of digital technologies and Advanced Analytics and AI specifically. At the time, hospital capacity, and in particular, ICU beds, were in short supply. In his (team’s) term  paper, which required identifying strategic digital initiatives, he identified the use of  predictive analytics in At Home with UCI, an extended monitoring program that enables  clinical observation while the patient is at home, to identify patients who can be treated  effectively at home. This became a very successful program freeing up scarce hospital  capacity. Similarly, the team identified the use of analytics to optimize the use of operating  rooms, and providing a platform for rapid AI-guided detection of strokes.

With the training he received in the MBA program, he was able to articulate and argue for the strategic importance of these initiatives, emphasizing their learning aspects. As he puts it, every patient should benefit from the learnings that derived from the treatment of prior patients, and he is working on building a healthcare approach that learns from clinical data. He was able to make the case for these strategic initiatives with hospital leaders and secure funding for these initiatives. He was also able to justify and acquire the computational resources for these AI initiatives. Applying his MBA education, he was able to understand the barriers to deployment, including culture, and find creative solutions to these challenges, and scale the technology for widespread use. It is rare to find examples where a student in our program can make such a significant impact so quickly. The pandemic created huge  challenges for health systems everywhere, and UCI Health is fortunate to have the healthcare, technology, and business knowhow of Dr. Chow.

Our hope, for every student who enrolls in our program, is that they build on their prior  education and experience to become responsible and ethical leaders in the digital world in  which we live. Dr. Chow epitomizes these ideals of The Paul Merage School of Business at  the University of California, Irvine.”

Vijay Gurbaxani
The Paul Merage School of Business
Taco Bell Endowed Professor of Information Systems


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