Medical Informatics Training and Research at Columbia University

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this article we provide a summary of the current state of the research and educational programs, beginning with their historical base, proceeding to the philosophical perspective on which the department is built, and closing with a discussion of the degree programs and curriculum. Departmental Roots and Growth Columbia's Department of Medical Informatics was formed in 1995, emerging from the previous Center for Medical Information Science that had been created in the late 1980s when Dr. Paul Clayton had been recruited to Columbia from LDS Hospital and the University of Utah. Under Dr. Clayton's leadership, the Center had attracted IAIMS funding from the National Library of Medicine [2, 3] and, by the early 1990s, had developed a systems architecture and had implemented a clinical information system that was in routine use by clinicians at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center [4]. Our faculty and staff were also major contributors to research projects such as the Arden Syntax for Medical Logic Modules [5], the Unified Medical Language System [6, 7] , and the Health Level 7 standard for medical data interchange [8]. As the Center matured as an organization for academic research and training as well as for clinical service, its faculty grew in number and breadth of expertise. Beginning in 1993, we began enrolling our post-doctoral students in courses of study leading to the MA, M Phil, and PhD degrees in Medical Informatics, and in 1995 we enrolled our first group of pre-doctoral students. By 1994, it was reasonable to propose the creation of a formal department and of a degree program to grant masters and PhD degrees in medical informatics. At the time of our previous article, this degree program had just been established and we had begun converting our training program ...

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    • "The dotted lines between these subfields in Fig. 3 suggest that the distinctions become less strong as the methods become more abstract, until the fields merge into a common discipline. A variant of this diagram was introduced into our department in 2000, and published in 2002 [5]. However, this did not prevent the culture clash described in the previous section. "
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    ABSTRACT: Several training programs in biomedical informatics in the United States are attempting to integrate biological and clinical informatics. However, significant differences in the cultures underlying these two disciplines pose barriers to a uniform educational solution. This paper recounts the experience at Columbia University in adapting a graduate program with an initial focus on clinical informatics to train bioinformaticians. The analysis begins by considering the development of the medical and biological informatics cultures over a 17-year period. Then we review how two separate curricula evolved to serve the needs of each group. Interviews with bioinformatics students and faculty indicated some dissatisfaction with the curriculum that developed within clinical informatics. Their comments are considered in the light of an analysis of the relationship between the application domains of biomedical informatics as a discipline. In response, a new curriculum was developed in which bioinformatics and clinical informatics are regarded as subdivisions of the same subject. A key feature of this curriculum is a new course, Theory and Methods in Biomedical Informatics, which presents informatics principles in their general form, and illustrates their application with examples drawn from across the biomedical spectrum. The paper concludes with suggestions for integrating informatics training programs at other institutions.
    Journal of Biomedical Informatics 03/2007; 40(1):59-66. DOI:10.1016/j.jbi.2006.02.011 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The problem of developing a curriculum for biomedical informatics is highly dependent on how we choose to define and practice the field. Numerous authors have questioned how to position biomedical informatics along the continuum of formal, empirical and engineering disciplines. A concern with current educational programs in biomedical informatics is that students finish without a clear understanding of the relation between theory and practice, or worse, with the impression that the field does not possess any theoretical basis. In this paper, we propose that biomedical informatics curricula explicitly address skills and competencies at three levels: formal, empirical, and applied. We posit that that knowledge of formalization is necessary to build testable empirical models, and that model-driven approaches are necessary for deploying information systems that can be evaluated in a meaningful way. A curricular framework is proposed that identifies a set of methods, techniques and theories that have broad applicability within the domain of biomedicine, and which can span a wide range of application areas: bioinformatics, imaging informatics, clinical informatics and public health informatics. A stronger linkage between theory and practice will result in students who are empowered to create effective and lasting solutions to biomedical problems.
    AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings / AMIA Symposium. AMIA Symposium 02/2003;
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    ABSTRACT: Biomedical informatics is a maturing discipline. During the last forty years, it has developed into a research discipline of significant scale and scope. One of its subdisciplines, dental informatics, is beginning to emerge as its own entity. While there is a growing cadre of trained dental informaticians, dental faculty and administrators in general are not very familiar with dental informatics as an area of scientific inquiry. Many confuse informatics with information technology (IT), are unaware of its scientific methods and principles, and cannot relate dental informatics to biomedical informatics as a whole. This article delineates informatics from information technology and explains the types of scientific questions that dental and other informaticians typically explore. Scientific investigation in informatics centers primarily on model formulation, system development, system implementation, and the study of effects. Informatics draws its scientific methods mainly from information science, computer science, cognitive science, and telecommunications. Dental informatics shares many types of research questions and methods with its parent discipline, biomedical informatics. However, there are indications that certain research questions in dental informatics require novel solutions that have not yet been developed in other informatics fields.
    Journal of dental education 12/2003; 67(11):1193-200. DOI:10.1177/154407370301700103 · 0.97 Impact Factor
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