UW News

June 23, 2005

Public health informatics gets RWJ Foundation funds

The UW is one of four sites to receive funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to train students in a new public health informatics program. The new program will be part of the existing UW Biomedical and Health Informatics training program.

Public health informatics integrates state-of-the-art computer technology to manage public health information and knowledge. Informatics facilitates the work of federal, state, and local health offices in detecting disease outbreaks, notifying the public of emerging health problems, and promoting sound health practices.

Beginning this fall, students enrolled in the new program will be trained in basic information science, public health principles, focused preparation to apply informatics to public health problems, and on-site experience with public health agencies.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM), part of the National Institutes of Health, will administer the $3.68 million grant covering all the programs. Other universities receiving funding are Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Utah. All four universities currently host informatics training programs supported by the NLM.

The principal investigator on the grant is Dr. Peter Tarczy-Hornoch, associate professor and head of the Division of Biomedical and Health Informatics. Dr. Mark Oberle, associate dean for public health practice in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, is the director of the public health informatics training track.