News and Events

Chair’s Message

pth-use-this-oneWe are moving toward our vision with a number of activities. We completed the Clinical Informatics Fellowship match and filled our two open positions with two excellent candidates who started July 2018. We completed the interview process for our research focused MS and research focused PhD programs, and have a new cohort who will start in Fall 2018.  Applications are open for our applied on-line MS in Clinical Informatics and Patient Centered Technologies. We are beginning a new overall strategic planning process for all of our Departmental activities in conjunction with preparing for our every 10 year academic program review. We are still actively recruiting new faculty as part of our strategic plan to expand our core faculty by 50%, with 3-4 positions remaining to be filled over the next two years (see link).


Peter Tarczy-Hornoch, MD
Chair and Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education

Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education Newsletter

September 24-28, 2018


 BIME 590A – Biomedical & Health Informatics Lecture Series

Thursday, September 27, 4:00pm-5:00pm, UW Medicine South Lake Union, Room C123A&B

 (Also broadcast live and archived at; livestream will have a red dot in the top left hand corner)

 Title:  Improving Representations of Biomedical Concepts with Lessons Learned from Neural Word Embeddings

Speaker: Trevor Cohen, MBChB, PhD

Abstract:  Recent years have seen a surge in popularity in the application of distributed vector representations of words (word embeddings) across a range of applications, including the representation of biomedical terms and concepts for downstream machine learning. In particular, the neural-probabilistic approaches embodied in the word2vec and FastText software packages have been widely used and extensively evaluated over the past five years. This talk will consider neural-probabilistic methods of producing word vectors in the context of prior methods of distributional semantics, revealing potential enhancements of both sets of methods that we have realized in our recent work. The remainder of the talk will discuss these developments, with a focus on the evolution of our approach to leveraging literature-derived distributed representations to identify plausibly causal drug/side-effect relationships.

Speaker’s Bio:  Dr. Trevor Cohen’s research focuses on the development and application methods of distributional semantics – methods that learn to represent the meaning of terms and concepts from the ways in which they are distributed in large volumes of electronic text.  The resulting distributed representations (concept or word embeddings) can be applied to a broad range of biomedical problems, such as: (1) using literature-derived models to find plausible drug/side-effect relationships; (2) finding new therapeutic applications for known (drug repurposing); (3) modeling the exchanges between users of health-related online social media platforms; and (4) identifying phrases within psychiatric narrative that are pertinent to particular diagnostic constructs (such as psychosis).  An area of current interest involves applying literature-derived distributed representations in conjunction with observational data as a basis for machine learning.  More broadly, he is interested in clinical cognition – the thought processes through with physicians interpret clinical findings – and ways to facilitate these processes using automated methods.

Dr. Cohen trained and practiced as a physician in South Africa before obtaining his PhD in 2007 in Medical Informatics at Columbia University.  His doctoral work focused on an approach to enhancing clinical comprehension in the domain of psychiatry, leveraging distributed representations of psychiatric clinical text.  Upon graduation, he joined the faculty at Arizona State University’s nascent Department of Biomedical Informatics, where he contributed to the development of curriculum for informatics students, as well as for medical students at the University of Arizona’s Phoenix campus.  In 2009 he joined the faculty at the University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics, where (amongst other things) he developed a NLM-funded research program concerned with leveraging knowledge extracted from the biomedical literature for information retrieval and pharmacovigilance, and contributed toward large-scale national projects such as the Office of the National Coordinator’s SHARP-C initiative, which supported a range of research projects that aimed at improving the usability and comprehensibility of electronic health records interfaces.

BIME 591B (SLN 11311) – Write the Good Write

This course will begin the following week, on Tuesday, October 2, 11:30am-12:20pm, Health Sciences Building, T530

Instructors: Dr. Wanda Pratt and Sonali Mishra


Janice Sabin was invited by St. Jude Clinical Research Center, Memphis, TN, to deliver the annual St. Jude Sarouf Lecture, March 22, 2019. This is a prestigious lecture which will be followed by lunch, and meetings throughout the day with individual researchers and research groups. The topic is, Implicit Bias in Clinical Care and will feature Sabin research.

UW FHIR Workshop

We are looking forward to hosting all of you here in Seattle in the beautiful South Lake Union area.

All conference details including time, place, and agenda are available at the conference website.

Travel and Parking

Both sessions will be held at the UW Medicine Research Complex, Building C. For Sunday’s tutorial, free parking will be available in the Building C parking garage, and for Monday, the parking will be $3/hr. For those who don’t want to drive or walk, there is ample public transit. The South Lake Union Transit goes from Westlake to South Lake Union and has a stop a block away from the building. Bus Route 40 also has a stop near the complex and goes from Downtown Seattle to Northgate and vice versa.

Application Showcase

We are also looking for folks to talk about their work with FHIR in an application showcase breakout session. If you have a FHIR or SMART on FHIR application that you’d like to share, please fill out this survey.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to  We are looking forward to seeing you all next week!  –The UW FHIR Workshop Planning Committee


Backonja U, Hall AK, Painter IS, Kneale L, Lazar A, Cakmak M, Thompson HJ, Demiris G. Comfort and attitudes towards robots among young, middle-aged, and older adults: A cross-sectional study. J of Nursing Scholarship. 2018 [ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12430

Neal ML, Thompson CT, Kim KG, James RC, Cook DL, Carlson BE, and Gennari JH (in press). SemGen: a tool for semantics-based annotation and composition of biosimulation models. Bioinformatics.

 Baker-Smith CM, Flinn SK, Flynn JT, Kaelber DC, Blowey D, Carroll AE, Daniels SR, de Ferranti SD, Dionne JM, Falkner B, Gidding SS, Goodwin C, Leu MG, Powers ME, Rea C, Samuels J, Simasek M, Thaker VV, Urbina EM.  Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Children and Adolescents.  Pediatrics. 2018; 142(3).  PMID:  30126937 


BHI PhD student Calvin Apodaca would like to everyone in the BHI department that donated to his charity drive during Penny Arcade Expo: Thanks to the generosity of many researchers in the department, we were able to get over $500 dollars in donations for sick kiddos in hospitals!


September 17-21, 2018

 AUTUMN QUARTER BHI COLLOQUIA (September 26- December 7)

 BIME 590A (SLN 11309) – Biomedical & Health Informatics Lecture Series

Thursdays, 4:00-4:50 p.m., UW Medicine South Lake Union, Building C, Room C123A&B

Facilitator: Adam Wilcox, PhD

Informatics faculty and researchers from the UW and affiliated institutions present their research findings and discuss their views of national developments in their areas of expertise. See the course website for details.

NOTE: There will be no BIME 590 seminar on Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving).

BIME 591B (SLN 11311) – Write the Good Write

Tuesdays, 11:30am-12:20pm, Health Sciences Building, T530

Instructors: Dr. Wanda Pratt and Sonali Mishra

Description: Looking for ways to make more time for writing … and get some insight on how to do it better? In this seminar we’ll devote time to both. In each session, we’ll spend 30 minutes writing or editing and 20 minutes discussing topics to make us better writers. We’ll choose topics based on your interests, for example:

  • good vs. bad writing
  • writing a paper vs. writing a blog post about your work
  • strategies for breaking through writer’s block
  • writing memos
  • giving constructive criticism in editing
  • editing someone else’s work: how much is too much
  • the pitfalls of prescriptive grammar

Students will be expected to come to class with thoughts to share, stuff to work on, and writing-related puns. Students can either edit someone else’s work or work on their own projects during the 30 minute writing session.  See course website for details. 


 Nick Robison
Friday, September 21, 3pm, UW Medicine SLU, Building E, Room E130B 

Title:  The Problem of Time: Addressing challenges in spatio-temporal data integration


Across scientific disciplines, an ever-growing proportion of data can be effectively described in spatial terms. As researchers have become comfortable with techniques for dealing with spatial data, the next progression is to not only model the data itself, but also the complexities of the dynamic environment it represents. This has led to the rise of spatio-temporal modeling and the development of robust statistical methods for effectively modeling and understanding interactions between complex and dynamic systems. Unfortunately, many of these techniques are an extension to existing spatial analysis methods and struggle to account for the data complexity introduced by the added temporal dimension; this has limited many researchers to developing statistical and visual models that assume either a static state of the world, or one modeled by a set of specific temporal snapshots.

This challenge is especially acute in the world of public health where researchers attempting to visualize historical, spatial data, often find themselves forced to ignore shifting geographic features because both the tooling and the existing data sources are insufficient. Consider, as an example, a model of vaccine coverage for the administrative regions of Sudan over the past 30 years. In wake of civil war, Sudan was partitioned into two countries, with South Sudan emerging as an independent nation in 2011. This has an immediate impact on both the visual accuracy as well as the quantitative usefulness of any data generated from aggregate spatial statistics. Or, consider epidemiological case reports that are issued from local medical facilities, how does one account for the fact that their locations may change, or that new facilities may spring up or close down as time progresses. These are real-world problems that existing GIS platforms struggle to account for.

While there have been prior attempts to develop data models and applications for managing spatio-temporal data, the growing depth and complexity of scientific research has left room for improved systems which can take advantage of the highly interconnected datasets and spatial objects, which are common in this type of research. To that end, we have developed the Trestle data model and application, which leverage graph-based techniques for efficiently storing and querying complex spatio-temporal data. This system simple interface to allow users to perform query operations over time-varying spatial data and return logically valid information based on specific spatial and temporal constraints. This system is applicable to a number of GIS related projects, specifically those attempting to visualize historical public health indicators such as vaccination rates, or develop complex spatio-temporal models, such as malaria risk maps.


Announcement for the UW FHIR Workshop on September 23, 24:

The UW FHIR Workshop is coming up in less than two weeks! If you haven’t registered, make sure to do so soon – we have about 85 people registered, and we’ll likely cut off the registration around 100. We had to put in a waitlist for the Sunday tutorial, so make sure to add yourself after registering if you’re interested. Check out for registration and more details!


Mikles, S. P., Suh, H., Kientz, J. A., & Turner, A. M. (2018). The use of model constructs to design collaborative health information technologies: a case study to support child development. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, Epub ahead of print.


Andrea Hartzler and colleagues from UW, FIU, and UNC are leading workshop at AMIA sponsored by the Consumer and Pervasive Health Informatics Working Group):

AMIA Workshop – Sat Nov 3 8:30-12pm

 How Health Systems Should Be Thinking About Clinical Integration of Electronic Patient Reported Outcomes 

Elizabeth Austin, Andrea Hartzler, and Danielle Lavallee, University of Washington

Cynthia LeRouge, Florida International University

Arlene Chung, University of North Carolina


September 10-14, 2018


BIME Faculty Candidate – Michael Soh, PhD

Monday, September 10 10:00 a.m., South Lake Union, Brotman Auditorium (from off-site connect through Zoom:

 Speaker: Michael Soh, PhD

Associate Director, Curriculum and Evaluation, Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs, Center of Excellence Interprofessional Academic Homeless PACT

Title:  The Push for Interprofessionalism

Abstract:  Health professions training continues to move towards a team-based care model and effectively developing the skills and abilities to collaborate interprofessionally is becoming an integral part of medical education. MS will share his experiences with building and evaluating an interprofessional training curriculum, lessons learned from more than two years of interdisciplinary collaboration, and how the push for interprofessionalism can change the landscape of teaching, learning, and clinical practice in healthcare.


 The National Library of Medicine recently awarded BIME a Biomedical Informatics Research Training Grant Supplement entitled: “Enriching the University of Washington Biomedical and Health Informatics Training Program by engaging the next generation in data science coursework, career seminars, and research internships.” Core faculty include Peter Tarczy-Hornoch (PI), John Gennari, Andrea Hartzler, David Masuda, and Diane Korngiebel.

The supplement will extend our training grant with data science opportunities, particularly targeted at undergraduates, to enhance programmatic capacity and foster the next generation of biomedical informatics researchers through three aims:

Aim 1. To develop an undergraduate course for data science and ethics in biomedical informatics

Aim 2. To offer a professional development seminar on “Careers in Biomedical Data Science”

Aim 3. To seed fund undergraduate research internships in biomedical data science

UW FHIR Workshop on September 23, 24

Registration now open at  A group of faculty and students at the University of Washington (UW FHIR Interest Group), working with the Health Systems Platform Collaboration ( are hosting a one day workshop, in Seattle on Monday, September 24, 2018 (and a ½ day tutorial the day before, Sunday, September 23).  The meetings will explore the uses and capabilities of the FHIR health data standard. We will be exploring the potential and limitations of FHIR, SMART on FHIR, and CDS Hooks, including how health systems manage innovation, and success stories using FHIR.   An overview of the agenda and an email sign-up for more info can be found at


September 3-7, 2018


Tania Bardyn, PI of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Evaluation Office (NEO) was funded $200,000 by the National Library of Medicine to build and launch Tout Dashboard, a consolidated data visualization dashboard and ticketing system to support program assessment, outreach, and data-driven decision making throughout the NNLM network. Tout Dashboard—meaning everything (fr.) dashboard—will pair NNLM data with leading data visualization software to create a unified, immersive, and dynamic data dashboard for viewing previously static and often disparate information. The platform will feature a series of Tableau, ArcGIS, and LiveStories data visualizations generated and automatically updated from a series of NNLM data sources, including training and course registrations, NEO survey and analysis tools, traffic, and Google Analytics. The Project Lead, Emily Patridge, will run this project ending April 30, 2019. For more information, contact


Washington State Department of Health has a Bioinformatician opening! See details here:

The Washington State Department of Health is hiring for a Public Health Data Exchange Program Coordinator. See details here:


August 27-31, 2018


BIME Faculty Candidate – Matthew Cunningham, PhD

Thursday, August 30 10:00 a.m., South Lake Union, Orin Smith Auditorium (from off-site connect through Zoom:

Speaker: Matthew Cunningham, PhD

Research Scientist, Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Title:  Independent vs. Mentored Video Review of OSCEs

Abstract:  Feedback is an important aspect of medical education. Video recording of clinical encounters can be useful for providing feedback to trainees. We undertook a pilot study to determine whether student’s perception of the utility of video review changed based on whether the review was independent (self-review) or guided by a clinician mentor. Students were recorded during a single OSCE station, performed a structured video review with or without a mentor, and were surveyed as to the anticipated benefits of the review. Students tended to find the clinician-guided review more useful, but further studies with more students are needed for clarification.


Supporting Collaborative Public Health Work through User-Centered Design

Sean P. Mikles, MPH – University of Washington; Lauren E. Snyder, MPH – University of Washington; Anne Turner, MD, MPH, MLIS – University of Washington

Snyder, L.E., Lane, J. P., Katz, A., Turner, A. M. (2018, August). Using Informatics to Strengthen Health Policy in South Africa. Poster session presented at the Public Health Informatics Conference, Atlanta, GA.