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Elmer Bernstam, MD, MSE

Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Internal Medicine and
The Reynolds and Reynolds Professorship in Clinical Informatics

Department of Clinical and Health Informatics


[email protected] | 713-500-3927

Elmer Bernstam, MD, MSE, holds the joint appointment of professor at McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics at UTHealth Houston, formerly UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI), where he also serves as associate dean for research, and at McGovern Medical School. Bernstam is also the director of the Biomedical Informatics Group at UTHealth’s Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS). His lab at CCTS created and maintains the UTHealth clinical data warehouse, which contains health data for over 400,000 patients. Bernstam is board-certified in internal medicine and continues to practice. His research focuses on clinical and translational informatics, specifically on information retrieval, consumer informatics and clinical decision support. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Medical Informatics. In 2004, Bernstam received the John P. McGovern Outstanding Teacher Award, as voted by McWilliams School of Biomedical Informatics student body. Bernstam completed a National Library of Medicine fellowship at Stanford Medical Informatics.

“Although (the future of biomedical informatics) is notoriously difficult to predict, I think that we will transition from the goal of computerizing health care to improving health care, using, among other tools, health information technology. Most of health care deals with information including its collection, storage, processing and communication. If we want better, more efficient health care, we need to improve information management – this is the central concern of biomedical informatics.”


  • MS, 2001, Biomedical Informatics, Stanford University Medical Center
  • MSE, 1999, Computer Science and Engineering, University of Michigan College of Engineering
  • MD, 1995, Integrated Medical-Premedical (INTEFLEX) program, University of Michigan Medical School 
  • BSE, 1992, Computer Engineering, University of Michigan College of Engineering 
  • BS, 1992, Biomedical Sciences and Psychology, University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts 

Areas of Expertise

  • Information retrieval
  • Consumer informatics
  • Clinical decision support

Staff Support

Shay Stewart-Price | 713-500-3983


  1. Meric-Bernstam F, Johnson A, Holla V, Bailey AM, Brusco L, Chen K, Routbort M, Patel KP, Zeng J, Kopetz S, Davies MA, Piha-Paul SA, Hong DS, Eterovic AK, Tsimberidou AM, Broaddus R, Bernstam EV, Shaw KR, Mendelsohn J, Mills GB. A decision support framework for genomically-informed investigational cancer therapy. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 Apr 11;107(7). pii: djv098. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv098.
  2. Joffe E, Pettigrew E, Reeder P, Herskovic JR, Bearden CF, Bernstam EV. Expert guided natural language processing using one-class classification. J Am Med Inf Assoc, in press.
  3. Diaz-Garelli JF, Bernstam EV, Rahbar MH, Johnson TR. Rediscovering drug side effects: the impact of analytical assumptions on the detection of associations in EHR data. AMIA Summits Transl Sci Proc. 2015, in press.
  4. Brennan PF, Valdez R, Alexander G, Arora S, Bernstam EV, Edmunds M, Kirienko N, Martin RD, Sim I, Skiba D, Rosenbloom T. Patient-centered care, collaboration, communication, and coordination: a report from AMIA’s 2013 policy meeting. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014 Oct 30. pii: amiajnl-2014-003176. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2014-003176.
  5. Chen G, Zhao J, Cohen T, Tao C, Sun J, Xu H, Bernstam EV, Lawson A, Zeng J, Johnson AM, Holla V, Bailey AM, Meric-Bernstam F, Zhen WJ. Using ontology fingerprints to disambiguate gene name entities in the biomedical literature. Database (Oxford). 2015 Apr 8;2015. pii: bav034. doi: 10.1093/database/bav034.1. Hwang KO, Ottenbacher AJ, Lucke JF, Etchegaray JM, Graham AL, Thomas EJ, Bernstam EV. Measuring social support for weight loss in an Internet weight loss community. J Health Communication, in press.
  6. Yusuf RA, Rogith D, Hovick SRA, Peterson SK, Burton-Chase am, Fellman BM, Li Y, McKinney C, Bernstam EV, Meric-Bernstam F. Attitudes towards molecular testing for personalized cancer therapy. Cancer, 2015 Jan 15;121(2):243-50. doi: 10.1002/cncr.28966.
  7. Walji MF, Kalenderian E, Stark PC, White JM, Kookal KK, Phan D, Bernstam EV, Ramoni R. BigMouth: a multi-institutional dental data repository. J Am Med Inf Assoc. 2014 Nov;21(6):1136-40.
  8. Mandl KD, Kohane IS, McFadden D, Weber GM, Natter M, Mandel J, Schneeweiss S, Weiler S, Klann JG, Bickel J, Adams, WG, Ge Y, Zhou X, Perkins J, Marsolo K, Bernstam E, Showalter J, Quarshie A, Ofili E, Hripcsak G, Murphy SN. Scalable collaborative infrastructure for a learning healthcare system (SCILHS): Architecture. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014 Jul-Aug;21(4):615-20.
  9. Rogith D, Yusuf RA, Hovick SR, Peterson SK, Burton-Chase AM, Meric-Bernstam F, Bernstam EV. Attitudes regarding privacy of genomic information in personalized cancer therapy. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014 Oct;21(e2):e320-5.
  10. Zeng J, Wu Y, Bailey A, Johnson A, Holla V, Bernstam EV, Xu H, Meric-Bernstam F. Adapting a natural language processing tool to facilitate clinical trial curation for personalized cancer therapy. AMIA Summits Transl Sci Proc. 2014 pp.126-131. [Nominated for the Marco Ramoni Award]
  11. Bernstam EV, Tenebaum JD, Kuperman GJ. Preserving an Integrated View of Informatics. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014 Feb;21(e1):e178-9.
  12. Joffe E, Turley TR, Hwang KO, Johnson TR, Johnson CW and Bernstam EV. Errors in after-hours phone consultations – a simulation study. BMJ Qual Saf. 2013 Dec 13. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2013-002243.
  13. Hersh WR, Weiner M, Embi P, Logan J, Payne PRO, Bernstam EV, Lehmann H, Hripcsak G, Hartzog T, Cimino J, Saltz J. Recommendations for the Use of Operational Electronic Health Record Data in Comparative Effectiveness. eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes), 2013, pp. 1-14.
  14. Blair DR, Lyttle CS, Mortensen JM, Bearden CF, Jensen AB, Khiabanian H, Melamed R, Rabadan R, Bernstam EV, Brunak S, Jensen LJ, Nicolae D, Shah NH, Grossman RL, Cox NJ, White KP, Rzhetsky A. A non-degenerate code of deleterious variants in Mendelian loci contributes to complex disease risk. Cell. 2013 Sep 26;155(1):70-80.
  15. Plaisant C. Chao T, Wu J, Hettinger AZ, Herskovic JR, Johnson TR, Bernstam EV, Markowitz E, Powsner S, Shneiderman B. Twinlist: novel user interface designs for medication reconciliation. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2013 Nov 16;2013:1150-9.
  16. Joffe E, Byrne MJ, Reeder P, Herskovic JR, Johnson CW, McCoy AB, Bernstam EV. Optimized dual threshold entity resolution for electronic health record databases – training set size and active learning. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2013 Nov 16;2013:721-30.
  17. Hassan B, Bernstam EV, Hines J, Simeone DM, Weber S, Geller D, Evers M, Meric-Bernstam F. Career Track of Society of University Surgeons Resident Research Award Recipients. J Surg Res. 2013 Nov;185(1):92-6.
  18. Joffe E*, Byrne MJ*, Reeder P, Herskovic JR, Johnson CW, McCoy AB, Sittig DF, Bernstam EV. A benchmark comparison of deterministic and probabilistic methods for defining manual review datasets in duplicate records reconciliation. J Am Med Inform Assoc., 2014 Jan 1;21(1):97-104.
  19. Markowitz E, Bernstam EV, Herkovic JR, Thimbleby H, Johnson TR. SYFSA: a framework for systematic yet flexible systems analysis. J Biomed Inf, 2013 Aug;46(4):665-75.
  20. Hersh WR, Weiner MG, Embi PJ, Logan JR, Payne PR, Bernstam EV, Lehmann HP, Hripcsak G, Hartzog TH, Cimino J, Saltz JH. Caveats for the use of operational electronic health record data in comparative effectiveness research. Medical Care, 2013 Aug;51(8 Suppl 3):S30-7.
  21. Joffe E, Turley TR, Hwang KO, Johnson TR, Johnson CW and Bernstam EV. Evaluation of a problem-specific SBAR tool to improve nurse-physician phone communication in the after-hours setting: a randomized trial. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, Volume 39, Number 11, November 2013, pp. 495-501(7).
  22. McCoy AB, Wright A, Kahn MG, Shapiro JS, Bernstam EV, Sittig DF. Matching identifiers in electronic health records: implications for duplicate records and patient safety. BMJ Qual Saf. 2013 Mar;22(3):219-24.
  23. Payne TH, Bates DW, Berner ES, Bernstam EV, Covvey HD, Frisse M, Graf T, Greenes RA, Hoffer EP, Kuperman G, Lehmann HP, Liang L, Middleton B, Omenn GS, Ozbolt J. Health information technology and economics. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013 Mar-Apr;20(2):212-7.
  24. Wahle M, Herskovic JR, Bernstam EV, Cohen T. Deterministic Binary Vectors for Efficient Automated Indexing of MEDLINE/PubMed Abstracts. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2012;2012:940-9.
  25. Joffe E, Bearden CF, Byrne MJ, Bernstam EV. Duplicate Patient Records – Implication for Missed Laboratory Results. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2012;2012:1269-75.
  26. Joffe E, Havakuk O, Herskovic JR, Patel VL, Bernstam EV. Collaborative knowledge acquisition for the design of context-aware alert systems. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012 Nov-Dec;19(6):988-94.
  27. Saitwal H, Qing D, Jones S, Bernstam EV, Chute CG, Johnson TR. Cross-terminology mapping challenges: a demonstration using medication terminological systems. J Biomed Inf, 2012 Aug;45(4):613-25.
  28. Herskovic JR, Subramanian D, Cohen T, Bozzo Silva PA, Bearden CF, Bernstam EV. Graph-based signal integration for patient diagnosis discovery. BMC Bioinformatics, 2012, 13(Suppl 13):S2.
  29. Mandl KD, Mandel JC, Murphy SN, Bernstam EV, Ramoni RB, Kreda DA, McCoy M, Adida B, Kohane IS. The SMART platform: Early experience enabling substitutable applications for electronic health records. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2012 Jul-Aug;19(4):597-603.
  30. Hwang KO, Etchegaray JM, Sciamanna CN, Bernstam EV, Thomas EJ. Structural social support predicts functional social support in an online weight loss program. Health Expectations, 2012 Jan 2. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2011.00759.x.
  31. Goodwin JC, Johnson TR, Cohen T, Herskovic JR, Bernstam EV. Predicting biomedical document access as a function of past use. J Am Med Inform Assoc., 2012 May-Jun;19(3):473-8.
  32. Bozzo Silva PA, Bernstam EV, Markowitz E, Johnson TR, Zhang J, Herskovic JR. Automated medication reconciliation and complexity of care transitions. Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium 2011, pp. 1252-60.
    [Nominated for distinguished paper award]
  33. Hwang KO, Ottenbacher AJ, Green AP, Cannon-Diehl MR, Richardson O, Bernstam EV, Thomas EJ. Social support in an Internet weight loss community. Int J Med Inform. 2010 Jan;79(1):5-13.
  34. Bernstam EV, Smith JW and Johnson TR. What is biomedical informatics? J Biomed Inf, J Biomed Inform. Feb 2010, 43:1, pp. 104-10.
  35. Willcockson IU, Johnson CW, Hersh W and Bernstam EV. Predictors of student success in graduate biomedical informatics training: introductory course and program success. JAMIA 2009;16(6):837-46.
  36. Nelson S, Hwang KO and Bernstam EV. Comparing clinician knowledge and online information regarding Alli (Orlistat). Int J Med Inf, Jan 2009, 78:11, pp. 772-7.
  37. Bernstam EV, Hersh WR, Sim I, Eichmann D,  Silverstein JC, Smith JW and Becich MJ. Unintended consequences of health information technology: a need for biomedical informatics. J Biomed Inf, 43 (2010) 828–830.
  38. Hwang KO, Hamadah AM, Johnson CW, Thomas EJ, Goodrick GK, Bernstam EV. Screening for obstructive sleep apnea on the Internet: randomized trial. Am J Med, 2009 Oct;122(10):961.e1-6. [Selected for “Best of Sleep Medicine 2009”]
  39. Tanaka LY, Herskovic JR, MS Iyengar, Bernstam EV. Sequential Result Refinement for Searching the Biomedical Literature. J Biomed Inf, 2009 Aug;42(4):678-84.
  40. Bernstam EV, Hersh WR, Johnson SB, Chute CG, Nguyen H, Sim I, Nahm M, Weiner M, Miller P, DiLaura RP, Overcash M, Lehmann HP, Eichmann D,  Athey BD, Scheuermann RH, Anderson N, Starren JB, Harris PA, Smith JW, Barbour E, Silverstein JC, Krusch DA, Nagarajan R and Becich MJ. Synergies and Distinctions between Computational Disciplines in Biomedical Research: Perspective from the Clinical and Translational  Science Award Programs. Acad Med, 2009 Jul;84(7):964-70.
  41. Mirhaji P, Zhu M, Vagnoni M, Bernstam EV, Zhang J, Smith JW. Ontology driven integration platform for clinical and translational research. BMC Bioinformatics, 2009 Feb 5;10 Suppl 2:S2.
  42. Hwang KO, Childs JH, Goodrick GK, Aboughali WA, Thomas EJ, Johnson CW, Yu SC, Bernstam EV. Explanations for unsuccessful weight loss among bariatric surgery candidates. Obes Surg. 2009 Oct;19(10):1377-83.
  43. Bernstam EV, Walji MF, Sagaram S, Sagaram D, Johnson CW, Meric-Bernstam F. Commonly cited Web site quality criteria are not effective at identifying inaccurate online information about breast cancer. Cancer, 2008 Mar 15;112(6):1206-13.
  44. Hwang KO, Farheen K, Johnson CW, Thomas EJ, Barnes AS, Bernstam EV. Quality of weight loss advice on Internet forums. Am J Med, 2007, 120:7, 604-9.
  45. Meric-Bernstam F, Walji M, Sagaram S, Sagaram D, Bernstam EV. Breast cancer information currency. Medinfo 2007, pp. 973-6.
  46. Herskovic JR, Tanaka LY, Hersh WR, Bernstam EV. A day in the life of PubMed: analysis of a typical day’s query log. J Am Med Inf Ass, 2007 Mar-Apr;14(2), pp. 212-20.
  47. Bernstam EV, Pancheri KK, Johnson CM, Johnson TR, Thomas EJ, Turley JP. Reasons for after-hours calls by hospital floor nurses to on-call physicians. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, 2007 Jun;33(6), pp. 342-9.
  48. Smith-Aiken KA, Bearden CF, Pittenger ST, Bernstam EV. Toward a veterinary informatics research agenda: an analysis of the PubMed-indexed literature. Int J Med Inf, 2007 Apr;76(4),  pp. 306-12.
  49. Edmonson SR, Smith-Aiken KA, Bernstam EV. Context, Automated Decision Support, and Clinical Practice Guidelines:  Does the Literature Apply to the United States Practice Environment? Int J Med Inf, Jan 2007, 76:1, pp. 34-41.
  50. Esquivel AE, Meric-Bernstam F, Bernstam EV. Accuracy and self correction of information received from an internet breast cancer list: content analysis. BMJ 2006; 332, pp. 939-42.
  51. Herskovic JR, Iyengar S, Bernstam EV. Using hit curves to compare search algorithm performance. J Biomed Inf, 2007 Apr;40(2), pp. 93-9.
  52. Bernstam EV, Herskovic JR, Aphinyanaphongs Y, Aliferis CF. Sriram MG. Hersh WR. Using citation data to improve retrieval from MEDLINE. J Am Med Inf Ass, 2006 Jan-Feb; 13(1): 96-105.
  53. Herskovic JR, Bernstam EV. Using incomplete citation data for MEDLINE results ranking. Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium 2005, pp. 316-20.
  54. Bernstam EV, Sagaram S, Walji M, Johnson CW, Meric-Bernstam F. Usability of quality measures for online health information: can commonly used technical quality criteria be reliably assessed? Int J Med Inf 2005, 74:7-8; pp. 675-83.
  55. Walji M, Sagaram S, Meric-Bernstam, F, Johnson CW, Bernstam EV.  Searching for cancer-related information online: unintended retrieval of complementary and alternative medicine information. Int J Med Inf 2005, 74:1; pp. 685-93.
  56. Bernstam EV, Shelton DM, Walji M, Meric-Bernstam F. Instruments to assess the quality of health information on the World Wide Web: what can our patients actually use? Int J Med Inf 2005 Jan; 74:1, pp. 13-9.
  57. Walji M, Sagaram S, Sagaram D, Meric-Bernstam F, Johnson C, Mirza NQ, Bernstam EV. Efficacy of quality criteria to identify potentially harmful information: a cross-sectional survey of complementary and alternative medicine websites. J Med Internet Res 2004, June, 29; 6(2): e21.
  58. Sagaram S, Walji M, Meric-Bernstam F, Johnson C, Bernstam EV.  Inter-observer agreement for quality measures applied to online health information. MedInfo 2004, pp. 1308-12.
  59. Tang Z, Zhang J, Johnson TR, Bernstam EV, Tindall D. Integrating task analysis in software usability evaluation: A case study. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 48th Annual Meeting 2004, pp. 1741-5.
  60. Walji M, Sagaram S, Meric-Bernstam F, Johnson C, Bernstam EV.  Cancer-related complementary and alternative medicine online: factors affecting information retrieval. MedInfo 2004, pp. 1318-22. [Won bronze medal]
  61. Sagaram S, Walji M, Bernstam EV. Evaluating the prevalence, content and readability of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) web pages on the Internet.  Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium 2002, pp. 672-6.
  62. Michea Y, Pancheri K, Gong Y, Bernstam EV. Availability of online communication technology on diabetes web sites: comparing Chinese, English and Spanish web sites. Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium 2002, pp. 523-7.
  63. Meric F, Bernstam EV,  Mirza NQ, Hunt KK, Ames FC, Ross MI, Kuerer HM, Pollock RE, Musen MA, Singletary SE. Breast Cancer on the World Wide Web: A Cross-sectional survey of Information Quality and Web Site Popularity. BMJ, 324:577-581, 2002.
  64. Peleg M, Boxwala AA, Bernstam EV, Tu SW, Greenes RA, Shortliffe EH. Sharable Representation of Clinical Guidelines in GLIF: Relationship to the Arden Syntax. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 34:3, 170-181, 2001.
  65. Bernstam EV. Medline Query-by-Example (QBE) Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium pp. 47-52, 2001.
  66. Bernstam EV, Ash N, Peleg M, Tu S, Boxwala AA, Mork P Shortliffe EH, Greenes RA. Guideline classification to assist modeling, authoring, implementation and retrieval. Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium pp. 66-70, 2000.
  67. Bernstam EV, Strasberg HR, Rubin DL. Cost-Benefit Analysis of Computer-based Patient Records with Regard to their Use in Colon-Cancer Screening. Asia Pacific Medical Informatics Conference. September 28-9, 2000. Hong Kong, China.
  68. Peleg, M, Boxwala AA, Ogunyemi O, Zeng Q, Tu SW, Lacson R, Bernstam E, Ash N, Mork P, Ohno-Machado L, Shortliffe EH, Greenes RA. GLIF3: The evolution of a guideline representation. Proceedings of the AMIA Fall Symposium pp. 645-9, 2000.
  69. Deininger RA, Bernstam EV.  (1993) J Am Water Works Assn, 85: 35.
  70. Deininger RA, Clark RM, Hess AF and Bernstam EV (1992) J Am Water Works Assn, 84: 48-52.

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