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Academic Update

Volume 3, Issue 7          February 21, 2013

New SBMI Dean Announced

Jiajie Zhang, PhDJiajie Zhang, PhD, the Dr. Doris L. Ross Professor at The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston, will be appointed dean of the school effective March 1.

George M. Stancel, PhD, executive vice president for academic and research affairs, said, “Not only has Dr. Zhang had a major impact within the School of Biomedical Informatics, but he has also contributed significantly to the other UTHealth schools, the UT System and national programs in the broad area of informatics.  His own work has brought recognition to UTHealth and the School of Biomedical Informatics in the informatics community, and I am looking forward to working with him in his role as dean.”

Zhang became a member of the UTHealth faculty in 1998 and served as the associate dean for research at the School of Biomedical Informatics from 2002 to 2012. As a scientist, he has spent the past two decades conducting research in biomedical informatics, cognitive science, human-centered computing, medical decision making and information visualization. He is the principal investigator and director of the National Center for Cognitive Informatics and Decision Making in Health care and a 2002 recipient of the John P. McGovern Outstanding Teacher Award.

Now Accepting Nominations for Teaching Award

Students, it is time to nominate outstanding SBMI professors for the 2013 John P. McGovern Award for Outstanding Teaching! Submit your nominations in writing and describe how the faculty member demonstrates excellence in each of the following areas:

  1. John P. McGovernKnowledge of the subject and competency in area of expertise, i.e., basic sciences or clinical
  2. Interest/enthusiasm in teaching
  3. Interest in student success and understanding of the students
  4. Responsiveness to student questions and encouragement of independent thinking
  5. Accessibility to students

Nominations should be returned to Jaime Hargrave, SBMI’s Director of Student Affairs, no later than Friday, March 8. All eligible nominees, with their supporting nomination information, will then be distributed to the entire student body for a final vote.

Please note that all SBMI faculty are eligible for this award with the exception of the last year’s outstanding professor—Julie Brixey, PhD.

Apply for Graduation and Save the Date

Graduation Image

Graduation is right around the corner! Students will now apply for graduation through their MyUTH accounts rather than completing a form to submit to the registrar. Students planning to graduate in Spring 2013 need to apply for graduation by Friday, March 15. Once you have completed your application for graduation, you must send a screenshot of the “submit confirmation” page to Carolyn Elliot. Please review the links below, which include instructions and slides that explain the new process to apply for graduation. An example of the “submit confirmation” page is included in the slides (#5).

Instructions to apply for graduation
Slides to assist in applying

Students, faculty and guests to SBMI’s 2013 graduation make note of these important dates and find out everything you need to know about the big event on SBMI’s graduation page!

Graduation 2013 - Important Dates

March 15

Deadline to apply for graduation

March 22

PhD defense material to committee for review

March 25

Student regalia orders due to OAA

April 5

Titles for state of science & dissertations due to OAA


PhD's last day to defend

April 19

MS state of the science papers to committee for review

May 3

Completed graduation check out form due to OAA


Final electronic copy of the state of the science or dissertations due to OAA


Original signed cover sheet(s) for state of the science or dissertations due to OAA

May 6-10

Final Exams

May 7 Graduation dress rehearsal
May 8 Graduation

TMC Library Offers Research Guides, Tours

Graduation Image

Are you a new faculty, student or staff to the Texas Medical Center? Do you need information on how to use the TMC Library? The TMC library staff has developed a series of research guides to help you find what you need. Visit the welcome research guide to watch a brief introductory video on how to access the library resources, take a virtual tour of the library and find information about the location and parking.

Spring 2013 Student Scholarship Awardees

Student Name

Funding Source

Sahiti Myneni

Willerson Endowed Scholarship

J. Franck Diaz Vasquez

Ross Scholarship

Rafeek Yusuf

Ross Scholarship

Chen Liang

Ross Scholarship

Min Jiang

Glassell Student Excellence Scholarship

Santosh Joshi

Glassell Student Excellence Scholarship

Elizabeth Markowitz

Glassell Student Excellence Scholarship

Jianbo Lei

Glassell Student Excellence Scholarship

Ruth Ungerer

Glassell Student Excellence Scholarship

YouTube Series: Meet the Faculty

In our "Meet the Faculty" series, we wish to introduce you to a faculty member at the School of Biomedical Informatics.

W. Jim Zheng, PhD
SBMI Associate Professr

If the video does not appear, please click here.

Teen Clothing Drive

The Committee on the Status of Women will collect new and gently used clothing from February 11-22 to support teen patients at the UT Harris County Psychiatric Center (HCPC). Efforts will be focused on the needs of teenagers, but all donations will be accepted and appreciated.
Items needed include:

  • New underclothes and socks
  • New and used modest & age appropriate clothes:  t-shirts, jeans, pants, sweatshirts and jackets
  • Shoes:  tennis shoes and school-appropriate shoes
  • Personal hygiene items: shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant.

Read more

SBMI Professor Presented HIMSS Book Award

Dean SittigDean Sittig, Ph.D., UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics professor, received a Book of the Year Award from The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Sittig was recognized for co-authoring a book titled “Improving Outcomes with Clinical Decision Support: An Implementer's Guide, Second Edition.” The HIMSS Awards Program recognizes lifetime achievement, scholarship programs, activities or publications with honors going to individuals, groups and organizations for significant contributions to the society, their organizations or to the health IT profession. HIMSS will honor all 2012 award and scholarship winners at the HIMSS13 Awards Banquet on March 5, 2013 in New Orleans.

New Grants: SBMI Alumnus & Faculty Receive $3.9M NIH Grant

Muhammad Walji, PhDSBMI alumnus and adjunct associate professor Muhammad Walji, PhD, and his team received a $3.9 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to fund a dental 'adverse-event' database. SBMI Dean Jiajie Zhang, PhD, and SBMI Associate Professor Amy Franklin, PhD, along with Walji’s colleagues at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine are leading a new project to better understand and document patient safety issues by mining millions of electronic dental patient records and building a database of such events that can be used to improve patient safety. 

Faculty & Staff Changes

Please join us in welcoming two new staff members to SBMI!

Ryan Bien has accepted the position of Associate Dean for Management for SBMI, starting on February 16.  Bien has 14 years of experience at UTHealth, serving the past seven years as the Director of Finance for the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs. Prior to joining UTHealth, he worked in hospital/clinic administration, managed care contracting and physician recruitment.  Bien has a Bachelor of Arts in government from UT- Austin and a Master of Healthcare Administration from Trinity University. Nancy McNiel and Claire Brunson have helped us tremendously on an interim basis for the past half year and will stay in their current roles a while longer to facilitate the transition.

Christina Cowperthwait started as the new Executive Assistant for the dean’s office on February 11 and is the new face of SBMI, ready to greet visitors to the school. She will also be supporting faculty and fulfilling administrative duties for the dean’s office. Cowperthwait comes to SBMI from The Baylor College of Medicine’s Internal Audit department and received a Bachelor of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management from The University of Houston.

Upcoming Events

Save the Date

SBMI 2012-2013 Graduation

Wednesday, May 8 at 4 pm
IMM Beth Robertson Auditorium
Speaker: Kevin M. Fickenscher, MD, CPE, FACPE, FAAFP
American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) President & CEO
Event information

HIMSS 13 Conference

March 3-7,
Ernest Morial Convention Center, New Orleans
Event information

HIMSS Houston presentation & lunch

Friday, Feb. 22, 11 am-12:30 pm
MD Anderson (Pickens Tower Video Conference Rm.)
Why once and done analytics are inadequate for ICD-10 transition
Event information

UTHealth United to
End Hunger

Saturday, March 2, 8 a.m. to noon, Houston Food Bank
Volunteer event information 

Important Dates

Feb 18                   Second installment payment due
Mar 1                     Last day to drop courses & receive grade of 'WP' or 'WF' (may impact GPA)
Mar 11-15              Spring Break
Mar 25                   Final installment payment due

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