Health-Related Informatics Center

Applying advanced computer science to health-related information

A new center known as the Center for Health-Related Informatics and BioImaging (CHIB), previously known as the Center for Bioinformatics and Imaging (CBII), has been formed that will leverage extraordinary capabilities in research in computer science and in medicine, particularly in imaging among the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), and the University of Maryland Medical System. The new center is also a significant element of a joint UMB/UMCP application for a Clinical and Translational Science Award submitted to the National Institutes of Health in January 2013 and will be a major driver of translating research into practical benefit for the citizens of Maryland.

The center joins computer scientists, engineers, physicists, biostatisticians, and others at the College Park campus with imaging specialists, physicians, clinicians, and additional health experts in Baltimore.

Leadership of the joint center will be split between the two campuses: Amitabh Varshney, PhD, professor of computer science and director of UMCP’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, will lead efforts in College Park; Owen White, PhD, director of the Department of Bioinformatics at the Institute of Genome Sciences and professor in the School of Medicine at UMB, will direct CHIB activities in Baltimore.

The research at CHIB will advance the concept of personalized medicine, where decisions and practices are tailored to individual patients through the use of genetic sequencing and other biomedical information.

In recognition that our understanding of life is rudimentary and that the frontiers of biosciences will only be pushed back by cutting-edge interdisciplinary collaboration, CHIB will support projects that apply major advances in computing to enable mining, organizing, and analyzing massive data sets from the vast trove of data available at the molecular, genetic, and cellular levels; from imaging at the level of single molecules to the level of the organism; and from patient data and clinical expertise, with the goal of improving health.

The center will take a comprehensive view of health care from fundamental science to patient care, and address grand challenge problems including large-scale genome analysis, large-scale longitudinal imaging, and the integration of medical records. It will bring together and leverage the extensive expertise in clinical, biological, imaging, and bioinformatics from UMB and UMCP.

With sufficient funding for infrastructure, modest space, and new base funding, in five years the center will establish five or more significant joint research programs that will advance our nation’s health. CHIB will incentivize researchers to transition their research into practice through the facilitation of startup companies. It will strengthen partnerships with the NIH, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the Smithsonian Institution as well as engage key Maryland companies with interest in bioinformatics and imaging technologies.

CHIB plans to provide a broad suite of bioinformatics and imaging analysis services, to develop joint education programs, and to train more than 100 graduate students in the latest advances and bioinformatics, computing, clinical practices, and imaging. This will prepare them to lead scientific thought in biomedical informatics for the future.

Contact the following for more information:

Amitabh Varshney, PhD, Director, Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, UMCP

Owen White, PhD, Director, Department of Bioinformatics, Institute of Genome Sciences, UMB