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Academic Update

Volume 10, Issue 7
March 23, 2020 

COVID-19 Updates for the SBMI Community

As you all know, the novel COVID-19 outbreak has greatly impacted UTHealth, the city of Houston, and this nation. As such, we want to remind everyone that your health and safety are paramount concerns amid the continuously changing circumstances.

Orange COVID19 Banner

Starting Monday, March 23, all SBMI courses will be taught 100% online and no in-person classes will take place until further notice. All educational activities, including dissertation defenses, research seminars, presentations etc. will shift to an online format. If any students have any questions, please contact the Office of Academic Affairs ([email protected]).

If students are in need of counseling services during these unprecedented times, know that Student Counseling Services is offering telemedicine. Please visit the Student Counseling website for more information:

For all faculty and staff, if your job duties can be performed remotely, you are encouraged to telework/work remotely until further notice. Please work with your supervisor to determine your status and ensure all department functions remain appropriately staffed. For information on working remotely and safe social distancing practices while working, visit the Faculty & Staff Updates page.

Although faculty and staff are encouraged to work remotely when appropriate, the SBMI building will be open during normal business hours. We ask faculty and staff to complete the following survey regarding work at home status, if it has not yet been completed:

We encourage all students, faculty and staff to visit the SBMI COVID-19 website for updates each day:

Additional COVID-19 Websites or Important Updates

UTHealth COVID-19 Resources

Changes to Parking: Updated Options for Postdoctoral Fellows & Students and 50% Discount for Employee Contracts

Closed: TMC Library March 14-29

Closed: Recreation Center and Child Development Center

Closing March 20: RG Grill in UCT

SBMI Bragging Points

Members of the SBMI Community have recently achieved noteworthy accomplishments. We want to recognize and applaud their endeavors.

  • Assistant Professor Muhammad Amith, PhD, Associate Professor Yang Gong, MD, PhD and Professor Cui Tao, PhD co-authored a paper that has been selected as the winner of the AMIA 2020 Informatics Summit Informatics Implementation Best Paper Award. The paper is titled “Examining Potential Usability and Health Beliefs Among Young Adults Using a Conversational Agent for HPV Vaccine Counseling.” Drs. Amith and Gong as also SBMI Alumni.
  • Assistant Professor Kirk Roberts, PhD and Professor Hulin Wu, PhD also co-authored a paper recognized by AMIA. Their paper titled “Mental Health Severity Detection from Psychological Forum Data using Domain-specific Unlabeled Data” earned the AMIA Clinical Research Informatics Award.
  • Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Susan Fenton, PhD has earned a 2020 Governor’s Summer Merit Program (GSMP) grant. The grant funds are awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). GSMP’s objective is to improve middle school and high school students’ familiarity and experience with post-secondary educational opportunities leading to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers while developing collaboration among workforce development programs, colleges and universities, and Texas middle and high schools. With the funding, Dr. Fenton, along with SBMI faculty and staff, will partner with the Mid Rio Grande Border Area Health Education Center (MRGBAHEC) and Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) to deliver a Health Informatics Skills Camp (HISC) this summer.

AMIA Summit Goes Virtual

AMIA will now host its Informatics Summit in a virtual format. The Summit takes place March 23-26, the originally scheduled dates of the live meeting (which was scheduled to take place in Houston). Summit sessions will be broadcast from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT on those days. This Virtual Summit is in GoToWebinar format and there is no cost to register.

SBMI faculty, alumni and current students are slated to speak so we encourage everyone in the SBMI Community to review the schedule and register to participate. Note that you must register for each day you plan to join in the virtual webinars.

Visit the AMIA Summit website to register for the free event:


  • Professor James Langabeer, PhD, MBA was quoted in a Psych Central article about the HEROES (Houston ER Opioid Engagement System) program.
  • Dr. Langabeer also did a live interview on the KHOU-TV Channel 11 Facebook page and website about HEROES. The Q&A has been viewed more than 10,000 times.


Save the Dates

Mar. 25 Mathematical network approaches enhance understanding of brain architecture of pediatric epilepsy
Wei Zhang, PhD
SBMI Research Seminar at 12 p.m. (noon)
Online only:
Apr. 1 Yuqi Si & Surabhi Datta (SBMI PhD Students)
SBMI Research Seminar at 12 p.m. (noon)
Online only:
Apr. 8 Carlos Perez-Aldana (SBMI PhD Student)
BMI Research Seminar at 12 p.m. (noon)
Online only:
Apr. 15 State of the School
Dean Jiajie Zhang, PhD
BMI Research Seminar at 12 p.m. (noon)
Online only:
Apr. 22 Maryam Garza (SBMI PhD Student)
SBMI Research Seminar at 12 p.m. (noon)
Online only:

Important Dates

Apr. 6 Titles of state of science/capstone & dissertations are due to Office of Academic Affairs
Apr. 6 MS - State of the science/capstone drafts to Advising Committee for review
Apr. 15 Summer 2020 registration opens in MyUTH
Apr. 24 Last class day for spring 2020
Apr. 24 Ph.D. - Last day to defend proposal

SBMI LogoOffice of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin, Ste. 650 Houston, TX
Phone: 713-500-3591
Email: [email protected]

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