School of Biomedical Informatics Dean Says Job Prospects are Bright for Grads

Published May 01, 2013 by Rob Cahill

With job postings in health information technology tripling in as many years, UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics is the place to be. The school’s new dean, Jiajie Zhang, PhD, delivered the good news during his state of the school address to a gathering of faculty, staff and students last month.

Founded in 1997 and the only informatics school in the Lone Star state, the school is training the people who will play a major role in the nation’s efforts to expand electronic health record systems designed to enhance quality and reduce cost.

As for research, students are involved in initiatives to make e-health records more user friendly and are working on ways to mine existing data to improve patient care.

The latter is called “Big Data” and you will be hearing a lot about it in years to come, Zhang said.

“There is an information explosion going on,” said Zhang, first holder of the Dr. Doris L. Ross Professorship. “Ninety two percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years.”

The school’s data miners include Hua Xu, PhD, who is taking a new approach to drug development. Rather than shepherd a drug from the bench to bedside, which may take years and millions of dollars, he is poring through data to see if there may be other uses for approved drugs.

Zhang said data has been likened to oil and there are similarities. They are both valuable but they have to be refined to be of use. If that is the case, the school may be about to strike a gusher.