Biomedical Informatics Program

Biomedical Informatics Program

The Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) Biomedical Informatics Program (BIP) allows the U-M Center for Computational Medicine and Biology (CCMB) to extend its academically excellent Bioinformatics Graduate Program (BGP), its Interdisciplinary Research (IDR) program, its Collaborative Computing and Data Unit (CCDU), and the MICHR Clinical Research Informatics team to provide high-impact informatics enhancement of clinical and translational (C&T) research throughout the U-M and in its collaborative communities. 

The BIP enables C&T researchers to securely integrate heterogeneous data types that include gene expression, proteomics, images at all scales, specialized patient registries, and elements of the clinical record. BIP provides novel means to mine these diverse data and transform them into information records which can be utilized for knowledge creation throughout the U-M C&T research community. Such clinical decision support guides the movement of new research platforms and results into clinical practice. 

The BIP leverages two current NIH Roadmap programs: 1) the U-M-based National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informatics (NCIBI), one of seven National Centers for Biomedical Computing, and 2) the Michigan Clinical Research Collaboratory (MCRC), part of Re-Engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise. BIP features deep partnerships with well-supported U-M IT units, which facilitates dissemination throughout the U-M C&T research community.

The challenge for the BIP is to combine many diverse existing resources and activities to serve the needs of MICHR clinical and translational research communities and contribute to improvements in patient care and patient outcomes. From the laboratories (bench), genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, systems biology and bioinformatics are generating the scientific and technical basis for personalized, predictive, preventive, and participatory (P4) medicine (Hood K, Perlmutter L. The impact of systems approaches on biological problems in drug discovery. Nat Biotechnol 22:1215-17, 2004.). 

From hospital, clinic, and home care settings come needs to integrate clinical care data, collected at several times and places by a variety of health care personnel, with clinical research records. Clinical research for the emerging P4 era demands a research record that leverages the IT and security infrastructure of the entire continuum of the academic and medical research enterprises and engages patients and community groups.

The setting for most patient care is undergoing a paradigm shift. The U-M Health System has 44,000 hospital admissions per year (bedside), 1.4 million clinical visits (ambulatory), and rapidly increasing disease management and monitoring at home (community). The informatics must follow the participants in the community to enable the preventive and participatory aspects of the future P4 vision. Ongoing chronic disease management programs at U-M focus on diabetes, asthma, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, depression, and chronic back pain.

Specific Aims of the U-M MICHR Biomedical Informatics Program (BIP):

  1. Establish an academic home for MICHR informatics activities and infrastructure.

    The MICHR BIP, based on strong leadership from the Center for Computational Medicine and Biology (CCMB), will build a biomedical/clinical informatics faculty cohort to critical mass, to complement the existing bioinformatics and computational biology faculty. CCMB provides a physical home in the Palmer Commons Building, situated at the juncture of the Medical Campus, the Main Campus, and the Life Sciences Center. Palmer Commons also hosts the MICHR Education Program.

  2. Integrate biomedical informatics education and training programs into academic activities and training programs for U-M C&T research communities, in partnership with the MICHR Education and Mentoring Program.

    The BIP faculty will partner with the MICHR Education Program to develop, promote, and deliver a comprehensive informatics curriculum addressing the needs of the C&T research community. All education and mentoring programs in MICHR are administered through the Education Program to ensure that advertising, registering, and coordination occurs campus-wide. These programs are designed to meet the needs of several constituencies from undergraduates to mid-career faculty, and range from seminar and short courses to PhD programs.

  3. Transform isolated academic informatics and IT service units into a federated, well-functioning system.

    The MICHR BIP will reach into basic sciences and into the clinical research enterprise and add computational capabilities to help find better ways for diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and patient understanding. It will reach out from U-M via our referring physicians and networks, as well as the MICHR-led practice-based research networks. This can only be done by ensuring that the key service cores and infrastructures are functioning well, federating resources in ways that are most useful to C&T research, and using agreed-upon standards and protocols to maximize interoperability between internal systems and systems from outside institutions. BIP faculty and professional staff must be tightly engaged with research teams to provide the impetus and direction for this federation of data and information systems to work.

  4. Become a proactive partner with C&T researchers, centers, and MICHR units, enhancing informatics based collaborative and interdisciplinary research.

    This Specific Aim is dependent on Aims 1 and 3 and other MICHR Programs. The BIP/CCMB faculty affiliates will drive informatics-based collaborative and interdisciplinary research. Of course, success depends on the quality and commitment of the collaborating partners, interactions with other MICHR Programs, as well as the volunteer community and patient participants. BIP will build upon collaborative relationships that have already been established by the CCMB, NCIBI, and CRIC, and MCIT.

  5. Link MICHR C&T researchers with strategically chosen national and international informatics resources

    BIP will provide MICHR researchers access to selected biomedical informatics capabilities resulting from BIP collaborations with national resources such as the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG), the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN, the NIH National Centers for Biomedical Computing [NCBCs]), National Electronics Clinical Trials and Research (NECTAR) network, the NSF Teragrid and Cyberinfrastructure programs, and other CTSA informatics centers. In most cases, CCMB and BIP faculty and staff already have established interactions with these projects and organizations. In addition, CCMB embraces strategic partnerships with centers of excellence across the world that can bring complementary strengths and capabilities. Working with world leaders provides an excellent conduit for new faculty recruitment, as well as the sharing of data, software, and expertise.


Brian Athey PhD
Professor, Biomedical Informatics (Medical School) Chair Designate, University of Michigan Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (CM&B)
Director, Academic Informatics (Medical School)
Associate Director, Michigan Institute for Clinical Health Research (MICHR)
Principal Investigator, National Center for Integrative Biomedical Informatics (NCIBI)

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