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National Library of Medicine Awards $67 Million for Informatics Research Training

Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, Director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced that the NLM is awarding 14 five-year grants, totaling more than $67 million, for research training in biomedical informatics, the discipline that seeks to apply computer and communications technology to improve health.

For more than 35 years, NLM has been the primary sponsor of biomedical informatics research training in the United States.

"NLM's informatics training programs produce investigators trained in applying biomedical computing to improve clinical medicine, basic biomedical research, clinical and translational research, public health, and other health-related areas," said Dr. Lindberg. "In this era of the 1,000 Genomes Project, regional health data repositories, virtual clinical trials and real-time tracking of disease outbreaks, the need for trained scientists who understand the complex health information landscape and can render it more tractable is greater than ever."

At its current set of informatics training programs, NLM supports more than 200 pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees each year. Biomedical informatics requires knowledge of biology and medicine as well as of computer and information sciences, engineering, quantitative sciences and human behavior. Because informatics is interdisciplinary, some NLM trainees have mentors from two or more fields guiding their research. Trainees come to these programs with a range of educational and professional backgrounds; the group includes physicians, nurses, biologists, computer scientists, librarians, statisticians and engineers. "Many of today's informatics leaders in the public and private sectors received their graduate or post-graduate informatics training at one of NLM's training programs" noted Valerie Florance, PhD., NLM's Associate Director for Extramural Programs.

Distributed geographically around the country, NLM's informatics training programs provide graduate degrees and in-depth research experience in one or more of following areas:

  • Health care/clinical informatics: Applications of informatics principles and methods to direct patient care, such as advanced clinical decision support systems and multimedia electronic health records; design and provision of informational support to health care consumers.
  • Translational bioinformatics: Applications of informatics principles and methods to support 'bench to bedside to practice' translational research, such as genome-phenome relationships, pharmacogenomics, or personalized medicine; health effects of environmental factors, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and other similar areas.
  • Clinical research informatics: Applications of informatics principles and methods to support basic clinical trials and comparative effectiveness research; biostatistics; in-silico clinical research trials; merging and mining large disparate data sets that mix images, text and data.
  • Public health informatics: Applications of informatics principles and methods to build integrated resources for health services research, for decision support in public health agencies, to support regional or global health research, or syndromic surveillance; health literacy, health effects of climate change.

The biomedical informatics training programs receiving new five-year awards are located at the following academic organizations:

Columbia University Health Sciences, New York NY

Harvard University Medical School, Boston MA

Ohio State University, Columbus OH

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland OR

Rice University, Houston TX

Stanford University, Stanford CA

University of California - San Diego, San Diego CA

University of Colorado - Denver, Aurora CO

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

University of Utah, Salt Lake City UT

University of Washington, Seattle WA

University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison WI

Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN

Yale University, New Haven, CT

For general information about NLM's University-based Research Training Programs in Biomedical Informatics, contact Dr. Valerie Florance, florancev@mail.nih.gov.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the world's largest library of the health sciences and collects, organizes and makes available biomedical science information to scientists, health professionals and the public. It celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit the Web site at http://www.nlm.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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