UW News

October 27, 2005

$3.8 million grant will fund new informatics center

The School of Public Health and Community Medicine has been chosen to receive $3.8 million to develop a Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The director of the CDC, Dr. Julie Gerberding, made the announcement Sept. 30 at a Washington, D.C., news conference.

The emerging field of informatics involves the application of information and computer science technology to improve public health practice and population health. One of the goals of public health informatics is to improve the ability of communities to detect and respond to health threats from disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Mark Oberle, assistant dean of the School of Public Health, is the principal investigator for the Center of Excellence. Dr. Sherilynne Fuller, director of Health Sciences Libraries and professor of biomedical informatics, is the project co-director.

“This award will position the UW as an academic leader in public health informatics research and training,” Oberle said. “It will greatly expand the existing Center for Public Health Informatics.”

The CDC grant will fund two major research projects that focus on improving public health surveillance and epidemic detection methods, and on the development of an interactive digital knowledge management system. That system will include concept mapping services that will provide rapid access to answers from a variety of key resources.

The Center’s research will bring together faculty from the School of Public Health, the Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics and the UW Department of Technical Communication.

In addition to the award from the CDC, the UW recently received National Library of Medicine funds to train leaders in public health informatics.

The UW shares the Center of Excellence award with Harvard University.

To learn more about the center, visit http://www.cphi.washington.edu.