School of Biomedical Informatics Announces Its Inaugural Distinguished Alum

Published May 09, 2013 by Sarah Kelly

HOUSTON – (May 9, 2013) – John C. Frenzel, MD, MS, a 2002 graduate of SBMI’s Master of Science in health informatics program, is the first recipient of Distinguished Alum Award.

New SBMI alumni association president, Muhammad Walji, PhD, Director of Informatics at the School of Dentistry, introduced Frenzel at the school’s commencement on Wednesday, May 8.

“This year marks the very first Distinguished Alum Award accorded by the school,” Walji said. “The individual selected for this honor is well known in the field—locally and nationally—and has served SBMI, his employer, and informatics and other professional organizations well. I am very proud to call to the stage the inspirational Dr. John C. Frenzel, who is recognized today with the 2013 Distinguished Alum Award.”

Prior to earning his informatics degree from SBMI, Frenzel received bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Emory University and a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine. Frenzel currently serves as the Chief Medical Information Officer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he also serves as a professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. 

When accepting the award, Frenzel focused his remarks on the 2013 graduates and the impact they will make in health care. He also referenced the challenges medicine faces today, like the need for safety, quality of care, efficiency and effectiveness—all of which will be addressed and solved not through medicine, though it plays a role, but through information technology and the work of informaticians.

“I’d like to thank the faculty, staff, students and my fellow alumni for this honor,” said Frenzel. “In thinking about what I was going to say today, I began to look at how medicine has changed. It’s at an inflection point—a point where folks with training around IT can make an inordinate difference in advancing medicine.

“When you look to your future and you look forward to the opportunities that present themselves, remember that the things you do can influence patient care, not just…where you work, not just [in] our nation, but [in] the world.”

As CMIO at MD Anderson, Frenzel has the responsibility to provide patients, providers and researchers access to information and tools to further their understanding of cancer and its treatment. He leads a team responsible for a comprehensive reporting environment that supports operational and research queries and lends his expertise as part of the leadership team that will onboard MD Anderson’s newly announced off-the-shelf EHR.  In addition, he is an adjunct professor of biomedical informatics at SBMI.

In his final comments to the graduates, Frenzel said, “This is a time when information technology can and will change patients’ lives, and the things that you’ve dedicated your lives to, at this point, are going to be critical in making that happen. I salute you, and I ask that you live fiercely, work hard and understand that what you do incredibly matters.”

Watch the presentation of the award and Frenzel’s address to the graduates in SBMI’s Commencement Ceremony video (starting at the 15:42 mark).