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Graduate Training in Medical Informatics at Stanford

Doug Brutlag brutlag at cmgm.stanford.edu
Thu Dec 10 18:51:07 EST 1992

                Graduate Training in Medical Informatics
                Stanford University School of Medicine

Stanford University's Medical Information Sciences (MIS) training
program is an interdepartmental program offering instruction and
research opportunities leading to an MS or a PhD degree in Medical
Information Sciences (Medical Informatics).  The program is
administratively based in the Section on Medical Informatics (SMI) in
the Department of Medicine.  It is, however, overseen by the Graduate
Studies Committee of Stanford University and is viewed by the Graduate
Division as a free-standing department for purposes of granting
degrees.  The faculty of the program, which numbers over 30
participants, is drawn broadly from throughout the medical school and
other parts of the university.  Areas of investigation are broad and
include topics such as decision-support systems, integrated
workstations, knowledge acquisition, speech input, pen-based
computing, medical records, computational biology, medical imaging,
reasoning under uncertainty, medical terminology, technology
assessment, and health-services research.

The design of the Stanford program reflects our belief that the
newness of the field of medical informatics, the need for trained MIS
professionals, and the broad opportunities available at Stanford make
it appropriate to provide a wide range of training options.  We
therefore offer both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees and custom-tailor the
classroom and research requirements to the diverse backgrounds and
professional needs of our students.  We require all trainees to be
formal degree candidates, believing that leaders in the field will
require broad formal course exposure in addition to intense research
training.  The curriculum provides structured but flexible exposure to
topics in the areas of clinical medicine (for trainees who are not
already health professionals), computational biology, computer
science, decision science, statistics, operations research,
psychology, health policy, ethics, technology assessment, and medical
informatics itself.  Trainees attend Tuesday journal clubs and
Thursday research colloquia offered by faculty, students, staff, and
visitors to the university.

The MIS training program is overseen by seven core faculty who serve
on the administrative and admissions committees.  Edward H.
Shortliffe, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and of Computer Science,
directs the program and serves as head of the SMI.  Co-director of the
program is Lawrence M. Fagan, MD, PhD, Senior Research Scientist.
Drs. Shortliffe and Fagan are assisted by Mark A.  Musen, MD, PhD,
Assistant Professor of Medicine and of Computer Science, and Director
of the program's admissions committee.  The program's computing and
communications environment, plus advanced systems software research,
is overseen by the Symbolic Systems Resources Group (SSRG), directed
by Senior Research Scientist Thomas C. Rindfleisch, MS.  The newest
core faculty include

Michael Walker, PhD (Senior Research Scientist) and Russ B. Altman,
MD, PhD (Assistant Professor of Medicine and of Computer Science),
both of whom have research programs in the area of computational
biology and have built associations with faculty in the departments of
Genetics, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Mathematics, and Statistics.
Gio Wiederhold, PhD is on leave with the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) but will soon be returning to resume his
research and teaching in the area of database systems.

Initiated in 1982, the program has 34 graduates, including 14 with
doctorates and 20 with master's degrees.  All trainees spend half time
during their first two years in formal coursework and the remainder in
focused research projects, working with one of the program faculty (or
any other faculty member in the University who agrees to oversee their
work and assure its relevance to the medical informatics training
goals of our program).  All trainees take a comprehensive MIS oral
examination after two years in the program, and MS candidates are also
expected to complete a master's research practicum by this time.  The
PhD degree adds an additional two years, with formal defense of a
thesis proposal at the end of the third year and a completed
dissertation at the end of the fourth year.

The program includes 22-25 students who are housed with the core
faculty and staff in 6500 square feet of space in the Medical School
Office Building at Stanford University School of Medicine.  We
typically receive 30-40 applications per year for 5-7 new positions.

The principal shared computing facilities used by MIS trainees are
provided by the Center for Advanced Medical Informatics at Stanford
(CAMIS).  The core CAMIS server is a SUN 4/490 that is partially
supported by a grant from the National Library of Medicine.  All
students also are provided with advanced personal computers or Unix
workstations for their research use.  Essentially all computing
facilities at the medical center and computer science department are
linked together by an ethernet communications network (SUNet) which is
also connected to most machines on campus and to national academic and
research communities through gateways to the Internet and BITNET.  The
network is also connected to a variety of servers in the SMI and SSRG
offices, including laser printers, file servers, and telecommunication

Several trainees are supported by post-doctoral or pre-doctoral
stipends through a training grant from the National Library of
Medicine.  Other trainees, including foreign students, tend to be
supported by external fellowships or by research assistantships
provided by their research preceptors.

Applications for admissions to the Stanford training program are due
by January 1, with decisions announced no later than April 15th.
Trainees generally start in mid-September at the beginning of a new
academic year.  To allow physicians in training the time to plan ahead
for their post-residency fellowships, applications are accepted either
9 months or 21 months prior to the anticipated September of

For brochures, a curriculum description, overviews of current
research, and information on current and past trainees, send inquiries
to the program's administrator:

	Ms. Darlene Vian
	Section on Medical Informatics
	MSOB X-215, Stanford University School of Medicine
	300 Pasteur Drive
	Stanford, CA  94305-5479
	(415) 725-3388;  Fax:  (415) 725-7944
	vian at camis.stanford.edu


Shortliffe, E.H. and Fagan, L.M.  Research training in medical informatics:  
The Stanford experience.  Academic Medicine 64(10):575-578, October 1989.

Shortliffe, E.H., Perreault, L.E., Wiederhold, G., and Fagan, L.M.  Medical
Informatics:  Computer Applications in Health Care.  Reading, MA:
Addison-Wesley, 1990.


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