Claire Loe, Ph.D., M.P.H., an alumna of the UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI) passed away on Nov. 3 in Houston, TX after a battle with cancer. 

Claire earned her doctorate in health informatics in Aug. 2015 after defending her dissertation titled “Designing for Practice Development in a Social Learning System: Communicating Norms and Vicarious Experience.” Claire was a Schull Institute Fellow during her doctoral studies as well.

Most recently, she served as a senior informatics analyst at the Public Health Informatics Institute in Atlanta. Prior to that role, Claire was a public health informatics fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

While studying at SBMI, her dissertation committee advisor and mentor was SBMI Assistant Professor Amy Franklin, Ph.D. 

“Claire was my first Ph.D. student at SBMI and she has set a high bar for my expectations,” Franklin stated. “She finished her CDC fellowship, completed her dissertation and started a new job all in what felt like one heartbeat. Claire always knew what she wanted to do with her work; she wanted to make the world a better place using her experience and training in public health and informatics and she did.”

In 1992, Claire earned a M.P.H. with a focus in health education and health behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Claire studied at the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate education and received her B.A. in Latin American Studies in 1987.

Kimberly Smith, Ph.D., two-time SBMI alumna and current assistant professor, was one of Claire’s closest friends as they were first peers in health informatics courses. 

“Losing Claire is a tragedy; she was a true humanitarian in every sense of the word. Not only in her personal and professional life, but from a global perspective,” Smith noted. “Claire was always seeking out ways to improve not only the health of other people, but the health of the planet we live on.”

In Claire’s honor, SBMI’s Dean & the Glassell Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Informatics Excellence, Jiajie Zhang, Ph.D. will launch a school fund to support future SBMI doctoral students and informaticians-in-training who share Claire’s passion for bettering our world. Donations to the fund can be made by visiting the SBMI giving page, clicking “Make a Gift” and selecting “Other” from the drop down list. In the text box provided, enter “Claire Loe.”

“I envision this fund as a source of support to individuals who share Claire's sense of mission,” stated Zhang. “Claire's life of dedicated service cannot be viewed in the past tense. Her spirit will live on in our memories and in the efforts of others who pursue Claire's noble path.” 

Dr. Franklin also noted, “Claire was always willing to help. With her dissertation research on community health workers, she wanted to build a means to help foster their interaction and help them grow in their own communities.” Franklin continued saying “I think she did that for the people in her research and she also did that at SBMI. Knowing Claire, she would be excited that she can continue to help SBMI students achieve their goals through the school fund; this is proof that her work to better this world is not done.” 

Family, friends and colleagues will pay tribute to Claire at her memorial service on Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston (5200 Fannin St., 77004).

published on 11/17/2016 at 3:30 p.m.