Thursday, May 31st, 2018
“Biology + Computers = Path to a great interdisciplinary career in biotech and pharma.”
- Arif Harmanci, M.S., Ph.D.
SBMI’s bioinformatics track is the perfect venue to jumpstart a career in biotechnology, no matter what your background is. As a scientist who trained as an electrical engineer, I have firsthand experience in switching into the field of bioinformatics. SBMI is one of the best places to make this shift for yourself.
Let’s briefly look at what bioinformatics means. In general, biology seeks to understand how living things work and evolve. In the earlier days of biological research, methods were considered “low throughput.” Scientists tried to understand the cause of diseases using a limited amount of data. The analytical methods to analyze these data are well established by biostatistics. Recently, the data acquisition techniques have advanced exponentially and made it possible to generate billions of measurements from each individual, every day. Sifting through this data to make it useful for health is an enormous data science problem. This is where bioinformatics comes in.
Bioinformatics uses computers to help explain complex biological phenomena. By itself, this makes perfect sense because a cell is an extremely complicated network of interactions between chemicals. The flow of biological data through these networks is what aids an organism as it lives its life. From that perspective, the distinction between health and disease is merely about the body’s ability to process information appropriately. Disruption of these information processing networks puts the body at risks of getting diseases such as cancer or autism. Although the manifestation of the diseases is very distinct and different from one another, the cause of any disease ultimately points to one or more malfunctioning network.
Bioinformatics combines multiple layers of information, for example, measurements of genetic, imaging, proteomics, microbiomics, etc. in very large quantities. It is a data-driven endeavor meant to understand and cure disease. Thanks to the plethora of data resources at SBMI, we can incorporate disparate data sources such as electronic health records as well. As we gather different data types, we will be able to look at our information processing networks in more detail to ultimately diagnose and treat diseases better.
Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017
When examining the connection between informatics and data science, the ratio is rather simple – 1:1. Informatics is the equivalent of data science.
Biomedical informatics is an amalgam of data science with both biomedicine and health components added in. Data science is a recent name that grew out of the emergence of big data, although biomedical informatics, i.e., data science in biomedicine and healthcare, has been around for several decades. The field of biomedical informatics is also an interdisciplinary field that involves:
- Clinical science and practice: medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, population health
- Public and community health
- Computer science and engineering: database, algorithm, programming, artificial intelligence, machine learning (including deep learning), neural network, cognitive computing, distributed computing, cloud computing, natural language processing and text processing, security, visualization, mobile devices, sensors, internet of things, etc.
- Cognitive science
- Mathematics and biostatistics
- Social and behavioral sciences
- Management science
- Health information technology policy and legal issues
Within biomedical informatics, there is an emphasis on certain key processes; acquisition, storage, communication, processing, integration, analysis, mining, retrieval, interpretation, and presentation. These processes transform data to information to knowledge to intelligence; these are entities.
Once researchers have entities for evaluation, the next step is to perform descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive tasks or functions. In general data science or informatics, these processes, entities, and functions can be applied to any domains. For biomedical informatics, the application domains are biomedical discovery, healthcare delivery, and disease prevention.
Focusing on innovations in these processes, entities, and functions, faculty, students and researchers at SBMI are performing in-depth research studies within the field of data science in biomedicine and healthcare.
Let’s take a closer look at how this framework works:
- Data is unintepreted, unprocessed, meaningless raw symbols, signals or pixels. For example, “101” could mean several things; the decimal number one hundred and one, the binary number five, the values of three pixels or even a label for a highway. Without context, most data types are meaningless.
- Information is interpreted data or data with meaning. For example, once we know that the metric for 101 is degrees in Fahrenheit, we immediate correlate the number to temperature. Information provides a descriptive function and tells you what happened, at what juncture and for whom.
- Knowledge is organized information that is justified or validated. Let’s say that we also know that 101 °F is an adult oral temperature. Immediately, we know that this indicates an abnormal body status (fever) and this relation is validated in medical practice and research. Knowledge provides a predictive function and tells you what might happen. An adult oral temperature of 101 °F predicts that the body status is irregular.
- Intelligence is actionable knowledge. An adult with a 101°F temperature should take fever medication, have further assessment and diagnosis performed and may need to see a doctor if it is not a simple cold. Intelligence provides prescriptive function and tells you what needs to be done. 101 °F adult oral temperature prescribes the action of taking fever medicine and further assessment.
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
It’s like Christmas in February….HIMSS17 has arrived! The annual conference & exhibition is Feb. 19 to 23 in Orlando. This year, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) will play host to the conference. Considered one of the largest convention centers in the country, the OCCC is around 7 million square feet. So for HIMSS17, there will literally be lots of ground to cover.
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
written by James Langabeer, PHD
Hello SBMI Community-
As part of a UT System-wide initiative, UTHealth has engaged in a comprehensive planning process to explore and improve the health status for the communities that surround us. As a faculty member here at SBMI, I was lucky to have been chosen to lead this initiative. So, a question I get asked all the time is this: what is population health? Although many people think it’s the same as public health, it is not. I define population health this way:
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
- Several members of the SBMI community are heading to “Charm City”, also known as Baltimore, MD, for the 88th Annual AHIMA Convention & Exhibit from Oct. 15 through 19. The conference is taking place at the Baltimore Convention Center and this year’s theme is “Inspire Big Thinking to Launch Our Future.”
Check out the conference preview brochure to see what sessions and events are taking place. If you are looking for a specific speaker and are not sure when her or his session takes place, we suggest using AHIMA’s session finder feature. As always, follow SBMI on Twitter and all other social media sites during the convention to get the latest details on sessions and seminars if you cannot attend. All of our tweets and posts will include the hashtag #AHIMACon16, too.
Thursday, September 29th, 2016
- This week marks National Health IT Week (or #NHITWeek for social media purposes) and SBMI is proud to be a partner as our school participates in this noteworthy event again this year. #NHITWeek is intended to raise awareness for critical advances needed in information technology in order to help the health care industry continually progress. Each year, the week focuses on specific points of engagement as certain issues take the limelight. This year, these are the four key areas surrounding #NHITWeek.
A rapid increase in computerization of health care organizations (HCOs) around the world has raised their profile as lucrative targets for cyber-criminals. Recently there has been a spate of high-profile ransomware attacks involving hospitals’ electronic health record (EHR) data.
Briefly, ransomware attacks commonly start when a user is conned into clicking an internet link or opening a malicious email attachment. Malware, or software that is intended to damage or disable the computer, is then downloaded and rapidly encrypts data on that computer and attempts to reach out to other computers on the same network to encrypt data on those computers as well; consequently, all encrypted data is inaccessible. A message is displayed that all files have been encrypted and if the user does not pay the requested ransomwithin a short period of time, the files will be destroyed. Once the attack has been launched, users have three basic options: 1) try to restore their data from a backup; 2) pay the ransom; or 3) lose their data.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2016
- It's no secret health care informatics is changing the medical landscape. With implications for provider efficiency, patient engagement, health outcomes and more, Health IT is a powerful field. More than ever, we at SBMI believe in the value of pursuing a degree in biomedical informatics.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
- The health IT field, and world in general, is full of hot trends and buzzwords. One important and popular trend that is continuously gaining more traction is the practice of "precision medicine." The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines precision medicine as "an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person." President Barack Obama announced the launch of Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) in early 2015 and that was the start of the precision medicine movement.
Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
- When prospective students want to learn more about SBMI, our admissions staff members often get this question; “What kinds of jobs can I get after completing this program?” While this is a very important item to consider before starting a new graduate program, the correct answer to that question is unique to each individual asking it.
Biomedical informatics is interdisciplinary and draws in professionals from a wide range of fields. As a result, individuals from an array of industries can find career advancement in the field. While current or recent work experience plays a role in the types of careers available to our students, educational background, past work history and areas of interest in informatics are important too.