At Vanderbilt, we have exciting research and educational opportunities in all the core domains of biomedical informatics. Explore the topics below to learn more about faculty and courses in these domains.

If you have questions about any of Vanderbilt's educational programs in biomedical informatics, contact Rischelle Jenkins, Program Manager, at or (615) 936-1068.

  • Interested in big biomedical data, health apps, or medical decision making? Watch this video to learn about biomedical informatics and how it can tie together all your interests.

    Kim Unertl, Director of Graduate Studies, also shared this helpful chart on the Grad School Application Process

    Follow Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Department of Biomedical Informatics on Twitter @vumcDBMI here and check out our department newsletter, DBMI Digest, here!

  • Both of these fields are interdisciplinary fields that study the effective uses of biomedical data, information, and knowledge for scientific inquiry, motivated by the goals of improving human health and advancing biomedical knowledge. 

    However, biomedical informatics researchers are primarily interested in human-scale data such as clinical data from electronic health records, bibliometric data from biomedical literature databases, social media data, and mobile app data. Research questions can involve understanding the causes of health and disease, the real-world effectiveness of therapies, or how to improve healthcare quality and medical decision-making. In addition, biomedical informatics researchers leverage the social and cognitive sciences to learn how to develop improved information technologies for patients and providers, how healthcare organizations function, and how people think and behave about health and illness. 

    By contrast, bioinformatics researchers are primarily focused on molecular data such as genetic, genomic, and proteomic data. Bioinformatics researchers develop ways to collect, store, annotate, and analyze these enormous and rich sets of biological data at scale. Research questions of interest to bioinformatics generally involve the biological mechanisms and causal pathways involved in health, disease and therapies. In the field of translational bioinformatics, researchers bridge the gap between biomedical and bioinformatics by studying the genomic and cellular mechanisms that explain and predict clinical outcomes. 

    At Vanderbilt's Department of Biomedical Informatics, our students take coursework in both fields. BMIF Foundations of Biomedical Informatics is the introductory PhD-level course in biomedical informatics, and BMIF 6310 Foundations of Bioinformatics is the introductory PhD-level course in bioinformatics. 

  • Clinical research informatics, the development of informatics tools and methods to facilitate clinical research, is one of the core strengths of Vanderbilt's DBMI. Through the Office of Research Informatics, DBMI supports programs, products and service lines designed to support hypothesis generation and the efficient conduct of clinical and translational research. Trainees can get involved in program planning, systems design and content specialty areas (e.g., study design, data mining, machine learning, electronic health record integrations) necessary for broad support of the Vanderbilt research enterprise. 

    Faculty working in clinical research informatics: (primary faculty) Stephany Duda, Toufeeq AhmedAlex Cheng, Paul Harris, Glenn Gobbel; (secondary faculty) Eric Vern Kerchberger

  • From apps to social media to patient portals, consumer health informatics focuses on theory, methods and applications to support individuals, patients and the public in their need for health-related information and data. If you want to improve patients’ understanding of their health, or patient-provider communication, consumer health informatics might be for you.

    Faculty working in consumer health informatics: (primary faculty) Jessica Ancker, Trent Rosenbloom, Zhijun Yin; (secondary faculty) Shelagh MulvaneyShilo Anders

  • Are you interested in learning more about the social aspects of biomedical informatics? The People and Organizational Informatics domain brings together educators, researchers and organizational leadership at VUMC, as well as clinical departments, to conduct various research projects related to people and technology. Recent projects that trainees have been engaged in include an evaluation of the people and organizational impact of a large-scale health information technology transition.

    Faculty working in people and organizational informatics: (primary faculty) Nancy Lorenzi, Laurie Novak, You Chen, Kim Unertl, Jessica Ancker; (secondary faculty) Shilo Anders

  • Public health informatics focuses on the needs and priorities of the community, the state, the country, or the world – not just the individual patient. Vanderbilt’s public health informatics emphasis allows trainees to apply artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing to population-level data and work with public health agencies on reporting, predictive analytics, population and medical product surveillance and more. Trainees will be able to work within Vanderbilt’s Center for Improving the Public’s Health through Informatics (CIPHI), a joint initiative of the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Health Policy.

    Faculty working in public health informatics: (primary faculty) Michael Matheny, Melissa McPheeters, Jessica Ancker, Martin Were

  • Global health aims to improve health outcomes and to achieve equity in health for all people around the world. At VUMC, our work in Global Health Informatics combines methods and applications of information technology to improve health systems and outcomes in resource-constrained settings. We also conduct a broad range of research projects to generate new knowledge in the field, while also capacity building countries and higher educational institutions in the field. Recent and ongoing projects include development and national-level scale up of a range of health information systems, health information exchange projects, and mHealth initiatives; applications of data science approaches for global settings; and collaborative design and evaluation of methods and tools for conducting high-quality clinical research in resource-constrained settings. Trainees interested in international projects are highly encouraged to engage with our Global Health Informatics faculty. 

    Faculty working in global health informatics: (primary faculty) Martin Were, Stephany Duda, and others