Tag Archives: Bioinformatics

School of Medicine receives NIH grant to continue cardiovascular outcomes research program

The UMKC School of Medicine has received a nearly $400,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue and build upon a successful two-year training program in clinically oriented cardiovascular disease outcomes research through the Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics and UMKC’s new Healthcare Institute for Innovations in Quality (HI-IQ). The funding covers the first of five years of support through the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, bringing the total grant funding to just less than $2 million.

Immense research investments have improved the care of patients afflicted with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability in the United States. But continued evaluation of patient-centered outcomes, including patient symptoms, function and quality of life and how to apply that knowledge in clinical settings is needed, said John Spertus, M.D., professor, clinical director and endowed chair in metabolic and vascular disease research.

“Collectively, our committed team will provide formal training, mentorship and research experiences for trainees to make significant contributions to the scientific literature, embark on successful academic careers, and improve the value and patient-centeredness of medical care,” Spertus said.

Hands-on research is one of the key components of the program that provides a basic foundation in clinical research, including a master’s degree in bioinformatics with a clinical research emphasis, and specialized skills for outcomes research, coupled with academic survival skills.

Hallmarks of the research experiences include multi-disciplinary group and individualized mentorship to meet each trainee’s needs, as well as access to numerous existing data. Clinical populations for primary data collection and implementation, training in entrepreneurship and highly experienced statistical support are provided to support trainees’ success.

Program enhancements are also planned that include a more robust collaboration with the University of Missouri system, increased engagement in clinical trial design and a growing focus on implementation science with access to HI-IQ’s multistakeholder collaboration of 19 regional hospitals.

School of Medicine recognizes first I-Ph.D. graduate

Jeremy Provance was always interested in both health care and computers but wasn’t sure how to fit them together. The UMKC School of Medicine provided his answer.

As graduates of the School of Medicine took part in a commencement ceremony at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on May 15 and 16, Provance became the first Ph.D. graduate from the medical school earning an interdisciplinary doctorate in biomedical and health informatics.

He describes the field as taking the enormous amount of health data that is generated every day and “making sense of all of those data points and telling the story about what is happening with our health.”

Provance didn’t know bioinformatics and data science existed until he found them as part of UMKC’s interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The program allows students to work across disciplines to develop an individual academic plan geared to their specific interest.

Through collaboration with UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies, the School of Medicine started offering bioinformatics as a co-discipline in 2014 and as a primary discipline in 2017. Studying this emphasis, students like Provance primarily focus on biomedical data and knowledge, using that information in problem solving and decision making to develop technology and processes that will shape the future of health care.

Provance earned his master’s degree in bioinformatics at the School of Medicine in 2017.  He then continued in the I-Ph.D. program where he found several appealing factors during his studies, including the school’s quality of faculty, research opportunities and interdisciplinary aspect.

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom. And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.”
– Jeremy Provance

“My mentors were so critical to my success, and the faculty were such excellent people both in and out of the classroom,” he said. “And bioinformatics is a such broad discipline – you can specialize in many different areas.” Provance’s studies focused primarily on cardiovascular outcomes research through the Mid America Heart Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital.

Fostering collaborations with area institutions and corporations and across disciplinary boundaries are the program’s strengths, according to Jenifer Allsworth, Ph.D., and the bioinformatics department vice chair. “Through these partnerships, our students work with and alongside people from different organizations and backgrounds. We are training students to have the skills to best contribute in a rapidly evolving field.”

Provance says his overall goal is to understand “what we do well as individuals, doctors and health systems, and to encourage those practices and to identify areas for improvement to change them for the better.” Soon, he’ll be doing just that at the Yale School of Medicine, where he’s accepted a research position with its Vascular Medicine Outcomes Group.

“I would not have been successful without the guidance of my research advisor, Dr. Kim Smolderen, and my dissertation chair, Dr. John Spertus. And certainly there are so many others – brilliant researchers, administrators, clinicians, fellow students and more – that helped me find my way through this program,” he said.

Though he was familiar with bioinformatics through his master’s degree, Provance says it’s hard to anticipate doctoral work until you are going through it. His advice to others considering the I-Ph.D. program? Find a strong mentor and understand the importance of collaboration and networking. “It makes all the difference when you are identifying the path forward,” he said.

And though it was four years of hard work, overall, Provance says he’d do it all again. “But I’m glad I don’t have to!”

Bioinformatics grad wins travel grant to present research at clinical chemistry meeting

Shivani Sivasankar

Shivani Sivasankar has been awarded a travel grant from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. She is a 2018 graduate of the School of Medicine’s master’s program in biomedical and health informatics.

The honor is a competitive award given to students who are the lead authors of research abstracts accepted for presentation at the association’s annual meeting. The association is an organization of more than 10,000 world-wide scientific and medical professionals dedicated to clinical laboratory science and its application to health care.

Sivasankar will present her research at the organization’s 2018 national meeting in Chicago on July 29. She is one of only 15 students selected from an international pool of applicants for the grant.

Her research abstract is titled “Use of National EHR Data Warehouse to Identify Inappropriate HbA1C Orders for Sickle-Cell Patients.” The project used information culled from Health Facts, a database of big data provided by Cerner in collaboration with UMKC and Truman Medical Centers.

Sivasankar plans to continue her research studies at the School of Medicine in the fall when she enters the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program with a primary discipline in bioinformatics.

UMKC bioinformatics degree propels Mir to prominent fellowship

Fahad Faisal Mir, M.D., says earning a master’s degree in bioinformatics at the UMKC School of Medicine helped him land a fellowship in advanced endoscopy at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Three years ago, Fahad Faisal Mir, M.D., decided to follow his internal medicine residency at the UMKC School of Medicine and Truman Medical Center with a three-year fellowship in gastroenterology. He didn’t stop there.

When Mir completes his fellowship in May, he will also graduate from the School of Medicine’s Master of Science in Bioinformatics program with an emphasis in clinical research.

It’s an added touch that he believes gave him the advantage in landing a one-year fellowship in advanced endoscopy at the prestigious Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston beginning in July.

“Programs like these, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, they’re looking for people who are good at what they do clinically,” Faisal said. “But they’re also looking for someone who has an extra edge, and I think having this degree and background gave me that extra edge that I needed.”

His experience in the bioinformatics program has helped Mir to look at research projects and their results with a more critical eye. He is confident that will help him become a better physician going forward.

“Physicians who aren’t trained in bioinformatics or biostatistics read research differently,” he said. “They’re looking at the results, the conclusion and the applicability. I feel like I can look at the research methods that were used and see how the study was done; what populations it was done on; does it apply to the patients I see; are the results accurate in what they’re describing?”

The research training worked hand in hand with his gastroenterology fellowship.

“Our bioinformatics program is structured very well,” Mir said. “I did it over three years. They worked with me to where I could do classes online as much as possible and do group discussions. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much by not physically going to classes.”

Mir said he was able to incorporate the gastroenterology research studies he worked on throughout his fellowship into his work in the bioinformatics program. That research training, Mir said, has given him the confidence to design his own studies. He has designed and worked on three randomized control trials, two multi-center trials, and several other retrospective studies during the past year.

And that has him thinking to the future of returning to his native country to begin his own research program. Mir came to Kansas City six years ago for post-graduate medical training after earning his medical degree in Pakistan.

“I want to start a research institute there and I think this is going to help form a foundation for that,” he said. “There is a need for medical research in Pakistan. If I can go into an established system that doesn’t have a really well established research arm, I can start doing high-quality research and be known for that. I’m at the early stages of that now.”

School of Medicine to honor degree, graduate certificate recipients

UMKC-SOM-LogoEleven students from School of Medicine programs will be honored during the UMKC Mid-Year Commencement ceremony on Dec. 17 at Swinney Recreation Center.

Students graduating with their M.D. degrees are Gabrielle Curry, Amit Roy, Mark Spaw and Joshua Williams. Five students receiving their Master of Science in Biomedical and Health Informatics are Noshaba Bakht, Tazim Dowlut-McElroy, Michael Nassif, Megha Shah, Xi Wang.

Two students, Melanie Ellsworth and Jacqueline Walker, are graduating with a Masters of Health Professions Education. Walker will also receive a graduate certificate in Health Professions Education.

Center for Health Insights launches new web tool for research data management

CHI logoThe School of Medicine’s Center for Health Insights (CHI) is pleased to announce the availability of REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) to enhance biomedical and health research initiatives at UMKC. REDCap is a secure web application for managing research, including observational studies, clinical trials and online surveys. The CHI and UMKC Information Technology Services implemented REDCap to provide a secure, centralized environment to document, store, manage and analyze research data. It is highly adaptable and can be customized by the research team for each project. Two pilot projects have successfully used REDCap, and it is now available to all UMKC faculty, students and staff who are participating in health and biomedical research. Attend a REDCap overview session to learn more. Two overview sessions will be held on May 14 and 20 at the School of Medicine in Theater C. Click here To register for one of these sessions and to learn more about training session options. (Use your UMKC SSO to sign in.) REDCap designer sessions begin in June. To learn more about the Center for Health Insights and REDCap, visit http://chi.umkc.edu or contact us at redcap@umkc.edu.REDCapPRN