The OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program has received university approval to rename the two tracks of its program to reflect changes in the field and evolving content in the curriculum.
Since 2006, the program has had two “tracks,” which we have called Clinical Informatics (CI) and Bioinformatics & Computational Biology (BCB). We have chosen to call these two pathways through our programs “tracks” because they represent two different foci within the larger field of biomedical informatics, which is the discipline that acquires, organizes, and uses data, information, and knowledge to advance health-related sciences. Historically, the differences between the tracks represented their informatics focus, in particular people, populations, and healthcare (clinical informatics) vs. cellular and molecular biology, genomics, and imaging (bioinformatics).
In recent years, however, these distinctions have blurred as “omics” science has worked its way into clinical medicine. At the same time, health, healthcare, and public health have become much more data-driven, due in no small part to the large-scale adoption of electronic health records. As such, the two tracks have begun to represent different but still distinct foci, mostly in their depth of quantitative methods (deep vs. applied) but also in coverage of other topics (e.g., system implementation, especially in complex health environments; usability; and clinical data quality and standards).
We believe that both tracks possess a set of common competencies at a high level that reflect the essential knowledge and skills of individuals who work in biomedical informatics. Our curriculum organizes these competencies into “domains,” which are groups of required and elective courses that comprise the core curriculum of each track. To reflect the evolution of the program, we have renamed the BCB track to Bioinformatics and Computational Biomedicine (still abbreviated BCB) and the CI track to Health and Clinical Informatics (now to be abbreviated HCI). The table lists below lists the common competencies and the names of the domains for each track. Each of the domains contains required courses, individual competency courses (where students are required to select a certain number of courses from a larger list, which we used to call “k of n” courses), and elective courses.
The program will continue the overall structure of the curriculum with the “knowledge base” that represents the core curriculum of the master’s degree and the base curriculum for advanced study in the PhD program. A thesis or capstone is added to the knowledge base to qualify for the MS or MBI (latter in the HCI Track only) degrees, respectively. Additional courses are required for the PhD, ultimately culminating in a dissertation.
We are in the process of updating the materials and Web site for our program to reflect the new names. We will also be evolving our course content as well as introducing new courses to reflect the foci of the new tracks. The program still fundamentally aims to train future researchers and leaders in the field of biomedical informatics.