Clinical Electives Program: Medical Informatics
National Institutes of Health - Frederick, MD

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Clinical Electives Program: Medical Informatics

Four to Eight Week Sessions

Rotation Coordinator:
May Cheh, MS

Rotation Description
This is an introductory elective in medical informatics for students who already have some experience with the application of computers and information systems, i.e., experience with computing in clinical medicine or biomedical research.

The four to eight week sessions of the elective include an extensive lecture series offering an overview of the state-of-the-art in medical informatics. The lectures are presented by research staff from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and other institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by guest speakers from other research centers. The lectures cover a number of topics including medical informatics applications on the World Wide Web; telemedicine; the Unified Medical Language System; the Visible Human project; medical expert systems; information management for biotechnology research; image analysis, manipulation, and retrieval; machine learning in the biomedical domain; and medical language processing. The NLM's Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications offers students an outstanding hardware and software environment for system development.

The course takes full advantage of a unique set of resources at the NLM and throughout the NIH:

The NLM is the world's largest research library in a single professional and scientific field and an international focal point for medical informatics research. NLM's two research and development divisions mount extensive in-house research programs addressing major informatics issues. NLM provides the MEDLARS family of on-line files (20 million records in more than 40 files) through the Internet and 21 international MEDLARS centers. Hundreds of thousands of individuals perform more than 190 million searches on NLM's systems each year.

The Clinical Center has built on commercially available mainframe hospital information system software by adding advanced hardware and software interfaces developed in-house for personal workstation front ends.

The NIH Center for Information Technology (CIT) has computer scientists, electronic engineers, and doctoral-level professionals in mathematics, statistics, physics, chemistry, medicine, and linguistics actively involved in a number of research and support areas.

The clinical services and research arms of other institutes and centers of NIH have developed unusual informatics applications in their fields.

Examples of informatics applications across the NIH campus, many of which could be potential research project areas for elective students, include:

Automated indexing and information retrieval

Biomedical knowledge discovery

Clinical informatics research

Consumer health informatics

Database design

Digital library research

Disaster management systems

Electronic health records research

Image processing research

Medical language processing

Medical vocabulary and standards research

Wireless computing for medical applications

Participants in the elective choose independent research projects and work closely with NIH research staff as preceptors. Opportunities for independent research projects are sometimes available at other times during the year when an appropriate match of student interests and preceptor can be made. The lecture series is held only in the four to eight week sessions.

Rotation Objectives

To provide both an overview and a vision of the state-of-the-art of medical informatics in a lecture series by nationally and internationally known speakers.

To provide an opportunity for independent study and research project work under the preceptorship of senior NIH professional staff.

To improve by example, critique, and experience the presentation skills of participants in explaining multidisciplinary projects.

To examine the design and operation of representative biomedical computing applications and to derive a sense of the utility and function of such systems.

To explore the enabling technologies that will have significant impact on the development and dissemination of informatics systems in coming years.

To provide examples of opportunities, both for research funding and for professional development, for physicians specializing in medical informatics, including open discussion time with major figures in the field.

Selection of Applicants
This elective is intended for students who are computer literate and who have some programming experience. Previous education in computer science or engineering may be helpful but is not required. Selection is based on evidence of motivation to explore the clinical and research applications in informatics.

National Library of Medicine Staff

Michael Ackerman, PhD

Alan Aronson, PhD

Oliver Bodenreider, MD

William Hole, MD

Donald Lindberg, MD

Matthew McAuliffe, PhD

Alexa McCray, PhD

Thomas Rindflesch, PhD

R.P.C. Rodgers, MD

George Thoma, PhD

Benes Trus, PhD

Terry Yoo, PhD

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