Informatics Institute will bridge big data and biomedical research

Selwyn Vickers 2013-17Underpinning UAB’s emphasis on personalized medicine and genomics is informatics — collecting, processing and making massive amounts of data available to researchers and clinicians in ways that advance research and advance patient care.

“The UAB Informatics Institute will transform UAB into a learning health-care system,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine at UAB.

UAB’s new institute, approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees June 13, will work in tandem with UAB’s Personalized Medicine Institute and the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine to enlist scientists and physicians to target a multitude of diseases and disorders.

Its creation parallels the National Institutes of Health “Big Data to Knowledge” initiative to support research, implementation and training in data science to make data more readily available to help drive biomedical research. Vickers said UAB Informatics Institute will develop four key areas:

  • data management,
  • software expansion and development,
  • bioinformatics to support and propel medicine and health care, and
  • education to support research and clinical activities and train future informaticians.

The Institute of Medicine, of which Vickers is a member, began creating the learning health-care system concept several years ago to drive the process of discovery as a natural outgrowth of patient care and to ensure innovation, quality, safety and value. “In a learning health-care system,” Vickers said, “data are continuously collected, shared, analyzed and used to propel clinical care, research and education.”

The School of Medicine will conduct a national search for a director of the Informatics Institute.

Research & Scholarship

  • UAB is NIH center of excellence for biology of aging research
    NIH's National Institute on Aging has designated UAB a Nathan Shock Center, one of six nationwide expected to provide leadership in basic research into the biology of aging. UAB will receive a five-year, $2.5 million award to establish the center and pursue its research on the relationship between energetics and aging.
    posted 22 days ago 350 views
  • When computers learn to understand doctors' notes, the world will be a better place
    By training computers to pick out timing clues in medical records, UAB machine learning expert Steven Bethard, Ph.D., aims to help individual physicians visualize patient histories, and researchers recruit for clinical trials.
    posted a while back 499 views
  • Graduate training to improve special education services gets a boost
    A $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will fund scholarships, provide research opportunities and support collaboration between UAB's schools of Education and Health Professions to improve education services for young children with disabilities. Professor Jennifer Kilgo, Ed.D., who directs Project TransTeam, expects to train 70 scholars in five years.
    posted a while back 623 views
  • Men and women process chronic pain differently
    Robert Sorge, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, is lead author of a paper published in Nature Neuroscience online that disputes the assumption that a common pain circuit exists in both sexes. New research shows males and females may use very different biological systems to process pain; the key difference appears to be in the immune system and under control of testosterone.
    posted a while back 613 views
  • Will your self-driving car be programmed to kill you?
    The computer brains inside autonomous vehicles will be fast enough to make life-or-death decisions. But should they? A member of UAB’s national championship-winning Bioethics Bowl team — and the team’s coach, a renowned bioethicist — weigh in on a thorny problem of the dawning robot age.
    posted a while back 867 views
  • “Extra costs of extra weight for older adults”

    UAB research, clinical services featured in PBS story that examines the high and rising costs of health care for obese adults as they age.
    posted a while back 1161 views
  • Smartphones are learning new tricks
    sensomatic main imageYou may think your phone can already do everything, but UAB cybersecurity researchers are adapting accelerometers, GPS chips, gyroscopes and other sensors to make phones that can read your mood, eliminate passwords, protect your bank account and more.
    posted a while back 1083 views
  • Renowned expert named inaugural director of UAB Informatics Institute
    James J. Cimino, M.D., will lead UAB's new Informatics Institute, which was established in June 2014. Cimino, who previously was the chief of the Laboratory for Informatics Development at the NIH Clinical Center and a senior scientist at the National Library of Medicine, is a national leader in the field of biomedical informatics and co-editor of the most influential textbook on the subject.
    posted a while back 1311 views
  • Research enters data-driven era
    During the past few years, technological innovations have opened up an entirely new way to approach scientific questions. Data-driven research starts with massive information sets — the genomic profiles of thousands of patients, for example, or millions of spam emails — and then searches for emerging patterns in that data. In the latest issue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s "Business Horizon Quarterly", UAB President Ray Watts, M.D., explains the way data-driven research at UAB is being applied to find novel treatments for disease, create new products and businesses and train the next generation of innovation-savvy students.
    posted a while back 1438 views