Fact Book Profile: School of Biomedical Informatics

History and Purpose

The School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI) is the first national program at a school level devoted exclusively to graduate education in health informatics. Informatics first became the focus of SBMI in 1997. The school’s name was changed to the School of Health Information Sciences in 2001, and it was rebranded in 2010 to more accurately reflect its new mission. SBMI is now recognized locally, nationally, and internationally for its independent, interdisciplinary approaches to research, education, and entrepreneurship in informatics. The school’s mission is to provide educational and research opportunities in informatics to health care professionals, biomedical scientists, and information technology professionals working as interdisciplinary teams. Biomedical research and healthcare solutions are advanced by bringing together the computer, engineering, cognitive and medical sciences. SBMI’s interdisciplinary programs mean that breakthroughs in the lab will be translated more efficiently into quality care; researchers will have better tools to advance treatments and cures, physicians will have better diagnostic tools and ways to obtain necessary information, and patients will have better access to personalized care.

Instructional Programs

Health and Biomedical Informatics is the interdisciplinary scientific field that studies and pursues the effective uses of biomedical data, information, and knowledge for scientific inquiry, problem solving and decision making, motivated by efforts to improve human health (amia.org). SBMI offers interdisciplinary graduate-level courses in health and biomedical informatics for students enrolled in UTHealth schools and for health professionals and scientists in the Texas Medical Center (TMC), across the nation, and throughout the world. The curriculum stresses the development of interdisciplinary teams to evaluate and address the complex informatics issues that confront healthcare and biomedical research in the next century. Students enter SBMI’s Health Informatics programs with a strong scientific foundation derived from their previous undergraduate or graduate studies, and will study how to communicate knowledge across traditional, professional, and organizational barriers. As they progress, students will acquire knowledge needed to organize, store, display, communicate, and evaluate that knowledge across a variety of systems: electronic, social, and political.

Currently, SBMI offers two degree programs: a master of science in Health Informatics (MS) and a doctor of philosophy in Health Informatics (PhD). A MS student may choose from two tracks: a traditional research track or an applied professional track. The school also offers a dual-degree program in Public Health Informatics with the School of Public Health, leading to an MPH/MS or an MPH/PhD. Three five-course certificate programs in Health Informatics, Applied Health Informatics, and Public Health Informatics are also available. The master’s and certificate programs can be completed online.

Students come to SBMI with a variety of skills and diverse backgrounds. Each student, along with a faculty advising committee, determines his/her program of study from a matrix of courses and one or more focus areas, including clinical & cognitive informatics, translational informatics, applied informatics, and public health informatics. SBMI faculty and students, working together with scientists and practitioners across UTHealth, the TMC, and beyond have created a real world laboratory for honing knowledge and refining research skills in the growing field of biomedical informatics.

First Focus Area: Clinical & Cognitive Informatics

  • Cognitive science in medicine
  • Artificial intelligence, knowledge modeling, and medical decision support
  • Information retrieval, data mining, and database design
  • Ontology
  • Practice guidelines and standards
  • Electronic medical records
  • Telemedicine
  • User interface design and human-computer interaction in health care
  • Information display and visualization
  • Patient safety
  • Natural language processing and machine learning
  • Personal health information management

Second Focus Area: Translational Informatics

  • Clinical translational science
  • Bioinformatics and genomics
  • Integrated data warehousing
  • Big data analytics
  • Computational biostatistics
  • Neuroinformatics

Third Focus Area: Applied Informatics

  • Data analytics for quality, safety, and cost in healthcare
  • Workflow optimization
  • Data warehousing
  • Clinical decision support for clinical operations
  • Data quality

Fourth Focus Area: Public Health Informatics

  • Public health informatics & biosurveillance
  • Healthcare management informatics
  • Big data analytics

source: Ryan Bien, School of Biomedical Informatics

Organizational Chart

School of Biomedical Informatics Organization

source: Ginny Solt, School of Biomedical Informatics