Bioinformatics, which includes many areas related to “big data,” is a broad range of analyses applied to make human and animal health better, to understand disease mechanisms and crop production, reduce healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes.
Among many of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s research strengths is a focus on bioinformatics. A recent initiative with Truman Medical Center and Cerner around the Cerner Health Facts dataset is further expanding its capabilities — few academic research centers in the world have access to this vast amount of medical records, which can be used to analyze local health in the context of national data.
Bioinformatics, which includes many areas related to “big data,” is a broad range of analyses applied to make human and animal health better, to understand disease mechanisms and crop production, reduce healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes. The Kansas City area has a high concentration of informatics employers including Cerner, Netsmart, healthcare providers, Stowers Institute and a number of universities. Among many programs and opportunities, UMKC offers a signature multidisciplinary master’s degree with academic programing and specific tracts offered by the Schools of Computing and Engineering; Medicine; and Biological Sciences.
“Our efforts to expand informatics are a key element of our university-wide and research strategic plans,” said Lawrence Dreyfus, UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development.
Coming soon at UMKC: a “Health Facts Boot Camp” training program for health and life sciences faculty. The goal for this project is to train faculty to use the Health Facts dataset in their research programs and to develop questions that inform new lines of research. Also there will be pilot grant opportunities that emerge from the Health Facts Boot Camp to jumpstart new and innovative research programs. For example, life sciences faculty could mine treatment and outcomes data to determine whether certain medications work better for men than women, or for people in their 20s and 30s versus their 60s and 70s.
“This project will serve faculty and students developing high-impact clinical research,” Dreyfus said.
In 2015, UMKC with KCALSI hosted the First Midwest Bioinformatics Conference. Conference speakers included John Spertus, UMKC professor and endowed chair and director of health outcomes research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, who is internationally acclaimed for his bioinformatics research on delivering personalized medicine. Other speakers included researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Duke, Stanford, the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Save the date for the Second Midwest Bioinformatics Conference on April 13-14, 2017 at UMKC.