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SBMI expands programs and training in Laredo region

The University of Texas Education and Research Center at Laredo
The University of Texas Education and Research Center at Laredo

In late November, the University of Texas System announced the launch of the new University of Texas Education and Research Center at Laredo and held a dedication event to celebrate the new endeavor. UT System stated that the new center will "augment the region’s health care workforce and address the need for more health care professionals throughout Texas."

UTHealth Houston’s School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI) is proud to participate in the new initiative by offering graduate programs to students and professional development and training opportunities for health care providers in the region. Faculty from both UT San Antonio and UT Health San Antonio will also participate in the programs offered at the UT Center.

UTHealth Houston President Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD was in attendance to mark the occasion. “We look forward to collaborating with two other UT System Institutions to increase access to health care education and training in the Laredo community,” stated Colasurdo.

SBMI’s contributions to the center will include the expansion of its undergraduate 4+1 accelerated master’s programs with partner institutions and the full range of its graduate certificate, master, and doctoral programs in biomedical and health informatics, health data science, and public health informatics. In addition to the traditional graduate educational offerings, SBMI will provide the health care community in Laredo with training and professional development opportunities and community engagement programs.

SBMI is very familiar with educating students in the Laredo area. The school currently offers an undergraduate 4+1 accelerated master’s program with Texas A&M International University (TAMIU). Advising support and academic services will now be offered to students at the UT Center. Additionally, SBMI’s Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center (GCREC) staff will help low-resource health care organizations qualify for financial incentives. Providers in Laredo and the surrounding communities working with SBMI’s GCREC staff will gain resources and training to help them optimize their use of Electronic Health Records and access other community programs.

The Glassell Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Informatics Excellence and SBMI Dean Jiajie Zhang, PhD was also on hand for the dedication. Zhang has served as SBMI’s Dean since 2013 and understands the importance of educating soon-to-be industry professionals in rapidly developing communities.

“Offering our informatics programs to future leaders throughout the state of Texas is a core mission of our school,” Zhang said. “We know that technology and artificial intelligence are reshaping the health care field and those advancements are needed in South Texas. SBMI is proud to help train professionals and educate the informaticians of tomorrow in Laredo in pursuit of that goal.”

Over the next several years, SBMI aims to further expand its reach in the Laredo community. Some proposed plans include hosting hackathons, offering biomedical informatics and health data science summer camps for Laredo youth, hiring new faculty to work specifically with students in South Texas, and garnering new practicum agreements with health care delivery organizations in the region.

“SBMI has sustained a beneficial presence here in Laredo for several years,” said TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz, PhD. “This institution looks forward to the continued collaboration with the school as we work towards further educating and serving students in our community.”  

To learn more about the UT Education and Research Center at Laredo, visit the UT System website.

Visit the SBMI Flickr album to see photos from the event at the center.

Chelsea Overstreet

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