Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Academic Update

Volume 3, Issue 11          June 20, 2013  

Out with the Old, In with the New

The SBMI web team will be migrating the school's domain from to at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. The old domain will redirect to the new domain (, but users are encouraged to use the new domain in all instances. When ordering new stationary, business cards and print materials, please use the new domain.

All schools will be a subdomain of the university's new domain:, and all labs and departments will be a sub-directory of its respective school. Moving the school website to the domain will increase domain strength. This increased domain strength will improve search engine optimization, which allows web users to find the school quickly when using search engines.

As the university branding evolves, the use of UT-Houston or UTHSC-H is discouraged and the brand UTHealth is prevalent across all communications and branding. The new web address ( creates consistency with the university’s new brand without creating confusion during the transition and also keeps subdomains for school websites short and simple. The consolidation of the campus-wide online presence will increase the strength and popularity of all schools.

Direct any questions about the domain migration to SBMI web developer Marcos Hernandez and any brand questions to SBMI communications assistant Sarah Kelly.

Check Out the New Student Lab in UCT 1416

Student Lab

The SBMI student lab in UCT 1416 is open again! Students, hone your skills in the new Windows 8 or work in the more familiar Windows 7. The multi-functional printer allows you to print, copy and scan to USB.

Contact the Office of Academic Affairs for room access by phone at 713.500.3591 or by email at

AMIA 10x10 Course Offering in Health Care Interface Design

AMIA 10X10

The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics at Houston is offering a course in health care interface design as a part of the AMIA 10x10 program. The course runs July 8 through September 20 and costs $2,195.

The AMIA 10x10 course is offered online and focuses on EHRs, human-computer interaction, human factors and Health IT usability. This on-line interactive course will allow students to master the fundamental principles and methods in health interface design; learn how to evaluate the usability of existing systems; and learn how to design new systems with built-in usability by applying related theories, principles, methodologies and techniques.

The course is intended for Health IT professionals, CIOs, CMIOs, system developers and programmers, researchers and informaticians, physicians, nurses, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and other health care professionals. The registrant should have an educational background in health sciences, computer science, informatics or other related areas.

SBMI dean Jiajie Zhang, PhD, is the director of the school's AMIA 10X10 program. This 10x10 course is based on the health care interface design course that Zhang has taught at SBMI for more than 14 years.

AMIA 2013 Student Design Challenge
SBMI teams forming now

AMIA Student Challenge

Jonathan Wolfarth, SGO Secretary is coordinating a team/teams to represent SBMI at this year’s AMIA 2013 Student Design Challenge, which focuses on reinventing clinical documentation. The focus of this design challenge is to design novel methods for capturing and accessing clinical data that facilitate and enhance clinical work. AMIA invites participants to re-invent electronic clinical documentation, broadly defined, and its role in medical practice. Specifically, the judges are looking for solutions that reduce documentation burden for clinicians, leverage strengths of human users and computing capabilities, support medical reasoning and decision-making, facilitate teamwork, capture clinical data in a way that enables secondary use of such data and can be generalized to multiple settings and use cases.

Several SBMI students have already expressed interest in the competition. Wolfarth is asking interested students to review all of the criteria for the competition on the challenge webpage, and to email him 3-6 potential competition ideas—100 words or less for each idea— at by noon on Monday, June 24. Following this deadline, the school team/teams will be created. SBMI students also have the option to form their own teams independent of these team building efforts. Winning or placing would be a great professional accomplishment to both the winners and to SBMI. In addition to the prestige, the winners will receive a cash prize.

Houston, UTHealth and SBMI Prepare for Hurricane Season
Lex Frieden addressed June 1 hurricane workshop

Lex FriedenThe start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1 has disaster preparedness on everyone’s mind—especially residents living in the Gulf region who’ve already experienced two tropical depressions this hurricane season. The Houston/Galveston National Weather Service hosted its 2013 Hurricane Workshop on Saturday, June 1 at the George R. Brown Convention Center where UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics professor Lex Frieden addressed the audience about disaster preparedness for people with disabilities.

Frieden, a wheelchair user, had a close call during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. When floodwaters jumped the banks of a bayou near his home, Frieden found himself stranded in his living room in about two feet of water. “I knew that was about as high as it was going to get, but it was a little disconcerting,” Frieden recalled.

Frieden said planning ahead is particularly important for people who rely on electrically powered machinery like wheelchairs to get around or who have service animals that may have to be evacuated. That’s why Frieden created a website called where people can go for information on disaster preparedness specifically designed for people with disabilities.

New Faculty at SBMI

Yanlong Sun, PhD, joined SBMI on March 1, 2013 as an assistant professor of biomedical informatics. He came to SBMI in 2007 as a postdoctoral fellow and was promoted to research scientist in 2011. His research interests include cognitive psychology, decision-making, computational neuroscience and data visualization. He’s currently conducting research on the project "Integrated cognitive-neuroscience architectures for understanding sensemaking," supported by IARPA.

“My research interests are concentrated in higher-order human cognition, such as judgment and decision-making, probabilistic reasoning, neuroeconomics, spatial cognition, computational modeling and scientific thinking,” said Sun. “One major topic in my research is human perception of randomness, an essential component in people’s probabilistic reasoning and decision-making under uncertainty. Another research topic I have extensively studied is human spatial cognition. Specifically, I am interested in the interactions between the multiple representations of various reference systems.”

Susan Fenton, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, joined SBMI on June 1, 2013 as an assistant professor of biomedical informatics. She came to SBMI from Texas State University in San Marcos, where she was an assistant professor and co-director of the Institute for Health Information Technology. Fenton’s research interests include workforce development, data management, ICD-10 implementation and health care associated infections.

“I love to teach students the power of data, as well as how information technology can be implemented effectively to support operations.” She will be co-teaching HIT 5327 Standards and Standards Development in Applied Health Informatics in the 2013 fall semester with SBMI assistant professor and applied master’s program coordinator Julie Brixey, RN, MPH, PhD. Fenton will also be helping the school acquire health informatics and information management education accreditation from CAHIIM for the applied master’s program.

Read more
Watch Dr. Fenton's Meet the Faculty video online, if it doesn't appear above.

Grants Awarded to SBMI Faculty

Hua Xu, PhDIn May, Hua Xu, PhD, director of the center for computational biomedicine and SBMI associate professor, received a $813,140 grant to improve natural language processing (NLP) systems. The proposed project builds upon first-hand knowledge and experience across the research team in the use of NLP for clinical and translational research projects. There are several large-scale informatics initiatives for clinical and translational research; however, those initiatives generally assume “one shoe fits all” and follow top-down approaches to develop NLP solutions.

Complementary to those initiatives, the researchers will use a bottom-up approach for handling interoperability and usability, to: i) obtain a common NLP data model and exchange format through empirical analysis of existing NLP systems and NLP results; ii) develop a user-centric NLP front-end interface for NLP systems wrapped to be consistent with the proposed NLP data model and exchange format incorporating usability analysis into the agile development process. All deliverables will be distributed through the Open Health NLP (OHNLP) Consortium, which the researchers intend to make more open and inclusive.

SBMI Offerings in the Rio Grande Valley

New Brownsville Recruiter Jeanette Broshears RecruitingExciting things are happening in South Texas. In April, SBMI hired a part-time coordinator to assist with marketing SBMI programs to the Rio Grande Valley community. The program is being promoted out of The University of Texas Health Science Center Regional Campuses in Brownsville and Laredo. Recruitment is now focused on recent graduates from The University of Texas Pan American, The University of Texas Brownsville and Texas A&M International, as well as the area’s community hospitals.

Plans are also being considered to start a 4+1 program with UTB nursing students. UTB students in the program would have the opportunity to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, while completing a certificate in health informatics. Students who complete a certificate could potentially transition into the master’s program with 15 hours course credit. Additionally, SBMI is working with the School of Public Health to promote the dual Master of Public Health and Master of Science in health informatics program. Presently, the dual degree program is only offered at the UTB campus, but there are plans to expand it to all six SPH campuses by fall 2014.

SBMI Hit 20,000 Views on YouTube!

SBMI would like to thank all of the viewers and subscribers of the school’s YouTube channel for reaching 20,000 views. Check out the new layout on YouTube and some of the latest SBMI videos. Also, stay updated with the school and the latest news and trends in biomedical informatics by following the school’s other social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Flickr. Thanks for following SBMI!

Upcoming Events

Save the Date

HIMSS Networking Event: Patient Empowered Showcase

6 to 8 p.m. - Wednesday, June 26 - Los Cucos Mexican Café
5851 Westheimer Rd. Houston, TX - Appetizers provided
Speaker: Laura Shapland
RSVP to Steve Evans

HIMSS General Session: HIPAA Directives for Covered Entitities and Business Associates

11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Friday, June 28 - Mays Clinic
1200 Holcombe Blvd. Houston, TX - Rm. ACB1.12345 - Lunch included
Speaker: Derek Brost
RSVP to Duke Rohe

Important Dates

June 24 Second installment payment due
June 28 Last class day – first six-week session
June 28 Last day to drop a course and receive a WF or WP for twelve-week session
July 1 Final exams – first six-week session
July 1 Tuition & fee payment due to avoid late fee – second six-week session
July 2 Assessment of late tuition payment fee begins – second six-week session
July 2 Classes begin – second six-week session
July 2-8 Late registration (late registration fee assessed) – second six-week session
July 2-8 Class add/drop for students already registered – second six-week session
July 4 Independence Day – university closed
July 30 Final installment payment due

facebook LinkedIn twitter youtube pinterestOffice of Academic Affairs
7000 Fannin, Ste. 650