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NLM Awards 18 Five-Year Grants for Informatics Training — 3 in the Pacific Southwest Region

The National Library of Medicine has announced 18 five-year grants, totaling more than $75 million, for research training in biomedical informatics, the discipline that seeks to apply computer and communications technology to the field of health. Three programs are offered in the Pacific Southwest Region: at UCLA; the University of California, Irvine; and Stanford University.

At its current group of 18 informatics programs, NLM supports nearly 300 pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees each year. Informatics requires knowledge of biology and medicine as well as of computer and information sciences, engineering, and human behavior. Many trainees have two mentors guiding their research. Trainees come to these programs with a range of educational and professional backgrounds; the group includes physicians, biologists, computer scientists, and engineers.

Distributed geographically around the country, NLM’s informatics training programs provide graduate degrees and in-depth research experience in one or more of following areas:

  • Health care/clinical informatics (patient care, such as clinical decision support systems and multimedia electronic health records)
  • Bioinformatics and/or computational biology (genomics, proteomics, cheminformatics, systems biology and simulation/modeling of biological systems)
  • Clinical research and translational informatics (“bench to bedside” translational research, for example, the genetic factors that influence health, disease, and response to treatment)
  • Public health informatics: Applications of informatics principles and methods to areas such as “intelligent” decision support of public health agencies and practitioners, research in health behavior, health literacy and syndromic surveillance
  • Imaging and signal processing (acquisition, interpretation, and retrieval of biomedical images in support of health care or basic biomedical research)

The organizations funded to do this training are responsible for the selection of trainees; questions about eligibility, program specifics, and levels of support should be addressed to the programs themselves. The complete list of programs with contact information for each is available at The programs in our region include:

  • UCLA
    The UCLA Medical Imaging Informatics program offers Masters (M.S.) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Biomedical Engineering for students from multiple disciplines. The program offers opportunities for 1) training in medical imaging informatics for graduate students, 2) training for medical students/residents, and 3) one to two-year training of postdoctoral fellows in research related to medical imaging informatics.
  • University of California, Irvine
    The UCI Biomedical Informatics Training Program, part of the Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics, provides education for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in either the computational or life sciences. Research projects are performed under the mentorship of both a life and a computational scientist.
  • Stanford
    The Biomedical Informatics Program at Stanford, administratively part of the Stanford School of Medicine, is an interdepartmental program leading to the M.S. or Ph. D. degrees in two areas, bioinformatics and medical informatics. The emphasis in these programs is on developing new informatics methods and knowledge, and a variety of informatics opportunities exist in other degree programs. A co-terminal program is also offered, affording the student training in both the undergraduate and graduate level. Undergraduate education in biomedical informatics is an option in the Biomedical Computation Major.

For more than 30 years, NLM has been the primary sponsor of biomedical informatics research training in the United States.

“NLM’s informatics training programs produce investigators trained in applying biomedical computing to improve clinical medicine, basic biomedical research, clinical and translational research, public health, and other health-related areas,” said Donald A. B. Lindberg, Director of the National Library of Medicine. “Such specialists are vital for research in such key areas as the human genome, application of genomics to treatment and diagnosis, and the use of electronic health records to improve care and reduce error.”

Editor’s Note: Adapted from NLM’s announcement of November 20, 2006, and from the web sites of the participating institutions.

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