New Biomedical Informatics Degrees at UAMS to Provide Driving Force for Personalized Medicine

By David Robinson

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education recently approved the three graduate degrees — Doctorate of Philosophy, Master of Science and Professional Master’s — and a Graduate Certificate Program in biomedical informatics at UAMS.

“Biomedical informatics is a driving force behind personalized medicine, enabling innovative, customized treatments for individual patients,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and College of Medicine Dean Pope L. Moseley, M.D. “The state’s approval of these advanced biomedical informatics degrees will position UAMS to be a national leader in one of the fastest growing research fields.”

Biomedical informatics professionals use computational tools to assess and manage medical and public health information for patient care and research programs. Professionals have the knowledge and skills to help improve human health through their own research and by aiding other researchers in the use of large amounts of data that are beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to process and manage.

“Our vision is to build a nationally recognized graduate program in biomedical informatics,” said Fred Prior, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics in the College of Medicine. “We will do so by first focusing on understanding and meeting the significant biomedical informatics workforce needs of our state.”

As the state’s only academic medical center, Prior said, UAMS has an obligation to serve Arkansas in this way. Meeting this goal will forge a strong, biomedical informatics graduate program that will contribute to meeting state and national workforce needs across the major sub-areas of biomedical informatics, including:

  • Translational bioinformatics. This degree program is for researchers using data in cellular- and molecular-level studies such as a study of genes producing a protein that has a role in disease. The field also includes pre-clinical data as development and testing begins for new drug targets, compounds or devices.
  • Imaging informatics. Training in imaging informatics, offered only a few places nationally, includes the latest methods of managing and interpreting images used in research. It also includes coursework for imaging professionals, such as those who run a hospital’s picture, archiving and communication (PAC) system where images such as CT scans, X-rays, and MRIs are stored.
  • Clinical informatics. This program is for those interested in generating, managing and using information in health care settings, such as predicting patients who are likely to respond well to treatment.
  • Clinical research informatics. UAMS is the first program in the country to offer both specific training and graduate degrees in Clinical Research Informatics, which involves use of data to design, conduct and report clinical studies.

Each of the four tracks are offered as a 36-credit hour master’s degree with a Professional and a Master of Science option. Additionally, the doctoral program will take a minimum 55 credit hours that are inclusive of the master’s degree credit hours.

“Adding these biomedical informatics degrees strengthens our curriculum and will be a significant draw for students nationally,” said Graduate School Dean Robert E. McGehee Jr., Ph.D. “Both master’s options can be completed in two years with full-time enrollment, and the Ph.D. can be completed in four years, though for most individuals we anticipate five years.”

The Graduate Certificate consists of one core course, a practicum, and additional courses of the candidate’s choosing.

At the certificate level, the goals are to deepen knowledge, increase skills and the ability to apply biomedical informatics principles and methods within an area of practice, and to conceptualize, plan, conduct and report an applied biomedical informatics project.

At the professional master’s level, the educational goals will expand on the certificate level to include the ability to productively work as a member of an interdisciplinary team, and to continue professional career development. Students completing the professional master’s degree will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to sit for the relevant professional certification exam.

The Master of Science educational goals include those at the professional master’s level plus gaining the ability to participate in and manage research processes in the relevant area of biomedical informatics.

Doctoral–level goals include those at the master’s level plus the ability to pose compelling scientific questions and new methods in biomedical informatics to design, conduct and report the research that answer them.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,870 students, 799 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS and its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.