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Academic Update

Volume 11, Issue 9
May 25, 2021

SBMI Commencement for 2021 Graduates

SBMI participated in a joint Commencement Ceremony on May 2 with graduates from the McGovern Medical School and MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The ceremony was held at Minute Maid Park and the Commencement Address was given by NFL star JJ Watt. During the event, SBMI honored graduates from summer 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 and the school had 21 graduates in attendance to walk the stage. Please help us celebrate all students who graduated from SBMI over the past year.

Image from MSBMI Commencement for 2021 Graduates

Summer 2020
Master’s Graduates

Thierno Ba
Laura Carter
Ethan Harrison
Irene Otachi
Deep Pujara
Donald Thigpen
Laura E Vincent

Fall 2020
PhD Graduate

Maryam Garza

Fall 2020
Master’s Graduates

Imani Bell
Viabhav Damle
Dzenad Dedic
Sanmati Deshmane
Jordan Godfrey-Stovall
Victoria Kolawole
Ryan Lewis
Richard Montalvo
Jorge Perez-Torres
Alicia Segovia
Tiffany Tran
Blake Weido
Sahar Yazdanfard

Spring 2021
Master’s Graduates

Abdulaziz Alshaikh
Kelsea Auguillard
Shreyas Bhavsar
Trudie Bruno
Megan Canny
Ngozi Chukwudebe
Sayali Ethape
Odinakachukwu Ezeigwe
Tabbitha Fagin

Callie Hall
Andrew Hedges
Mark Hurd
Rory Lettvin
Sarath Babu Manikonda
Agnita Manoharan
Vi Nguyen
Jessica Okunbor
Luis Oliveira

Chidinma Onye
Frederick Pagel
Mehak Patel
Irene Philip
Yolanda Pizano
Ankita Podichetty
Subhiksha Raghuram
Saliha Sulihem
Bilal Tariq
Jeritt Thayer

We also want to recognize two members of the SBMI Community who received accolades that were announced at the ceremony. Assistant Professor Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer, PhD was named the 2020-2021 John P. McGovern Teaching Award winner for SBMI. She was selected by the SBMI students for her excellence in education and this is her second time receiving this award in just three years.

The 2021 Distinguished Alumna winner was Biru Yang, PhD, MPH, MS; a 2013 graduate of the Applied Master’s Program. Dr. Yang is the Informatics Manager for the Houston Health Department and has worked tirelessly over the last 15 months as the City of Houston responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please help us congratulate both awardees and SBMI’s new group of alumni. Our school is very proud of their accomplishments and we are happy to have the opportunity to safely honor each of them. If you were unable to watch the ceremony live stream, we invite you to watch the recording of the ceremony and view the photo album.

Summer 2021 Scholarship Recipients

SBMI would like to congratulate our recent scholarship winners for summer 2021. We thank all students who applied, as well. These are the recipients:

Willerson Endowed Scholarship

  • Alexandra Zingg: PhD Student

Doris Ross Scholarship

  • Morgan Foreman: PhD Student
  • Peter Kizza: DHI Student

SBMI Dean’s Excellence Scholarship

  • Nour Alia: MS Student
  • Bhanumathi Gopal: MS Student

SBMI Scholarship Excellence

  • Anne Miles: MS Student

Lex Frieden Scholarship for Disability and Health Informatics

  • Joseph Krocker: MS Student

SBMI Bragging Points

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

  • MS Student Yang Liu was the spring 2021 Paul C. Boyle Research award winner. His poster titled “Oncogene Addictions in Colorectal Cancer Patients with Atypical BRAF Mutations” earned the highest score during SBMI’s Poster Session on May 3.
  • Associate Professor Yang Gong, MD, PhD was recently elected as a 2021 Fellow of the International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics (IAHSI). Known as “The Academy,” IAHSI serves as an honor society that recognizes expertise in biomedical and health informatics internationally.
  • A group of several SBMI faculty members and staff researchers recently published a co-authored article in JAMIA. The article explores the need for enhanced COVID-19 clinical trial information retrieval.
  • GQ Zhang, PhD is a part-time SBMI Professor and the Vice President and Chief Data Scientist for UTHealth. He co-authored an opinion piece that is currently published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics.

Heroes Helpline Aids Healthcare Workers

UTHealth’s Center for Health Systems Analytics is operating a 24/7 free and confidential helpline for all healthcare workers, first responders, and their families in Texas who have been impacted by COVID-19. Healthcare workers, including allied health students and professionals, and first responders are our heroes. The helpline is here to help our heroes and their families who have been experiencing an unprecedented level of stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please call the Heroes Helpline at 833-367-4689 to speak with trained staff who will guide you to mental health support resources in your area.

AMIA Launches Certification Program

AMIA recently launched the new Health Informatics Certification (AHIC) program. AHIC is intended to address needs created by the growing number and expanding role of health informaticians and the increased impact of their work in healthcare delivery, public health, and consumer health. The program provides objective, third-party validation of mastery of health informatics and demonstrates expertise to employers, patients, grantors, publications, students, and other stakeholders.

There are two dimensions of AHIC eligibility – a graduate degree in health informatics or a related field and “qualifying” health informatics experience. Visit the AMIA website to learn more about the eligibility requires needed to become certified as an ACHIP Diplomat. You can also email [email protected] to request an eligibility check, free of charge.


  • Professor James Langabeer, II, PhD, MBA was quoted in two news stories in recent weeks.
    • The Houston Chronicle asked him about how the health care industry has changed during the pandemic.
    • He spoke with WalletHub about opioid use in different states and how state leaders can combat this problem.


Important Dates

May 31 Memorial Day – University is closed

SBMI LogoOffice of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin, Ste. 650 Houston, TX
Phone: 713.500.3591
Email: [email protected]

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