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OHSU Hosts Top Health and Biomedical Informatics Experts from Around the World

   Portland, Ore.

Annual meeting to focus on innovations in informatics education and development of a "virtual university"

Top health and biomedical informatics experts from around the world are coming to Portland to attend the 2003 International Medical Informatics Association Working Group on Education Conference. The Division of Medical Informatics and Outcomes Research (DMIOR) in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine will host this year's gathering.

The 2-1/2 day meeting, "Teach Globally, Learn Locally: Innovations in Health and Biomedical Informatics Education in the 21st Century," will begin on Wednesday, April 23, 2003, at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower at 921 S.W. Sixth Avenue. William Hersh, M.D., professor and head of DMIOR, is general chairman of the conference.

The gathering will be an opportunity for researchers to share innovations in health and biomedical education. For example, they will examine new ways to train health care information technology leaders in using the latest technologies to improve workflow and discuss how to provide students with a hands-on experience that combines an academic learning environment with the real-world challenges of working in companies and hospitals.

The researchers also will continue work on a textbook and plans for a "virtual university" designed to give students access to informatics courses at universities around the world. The virtual university is modeled after the European Credit Transfer system, which allows students to tailor their own educational programs by mixing and matching courses from different universities. The system seamlessly handles course catalogs, tuition payments and grade and credit transfers.

The conference will kick off at 8:30 a.m. on April 23 with a keynote address by Reinhold Haux, Ph.D., executive board president of the University for Health Informatics and Technology (UMIT) in Innsbruck, Austria. Haux will share his experiences in biomedical and health informatics education at the university level. A new university founded in October 2001, UMIT offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in medical informatics, and plans to add programs in public health, bioinformatics and bioengineering.

Medical informatics is the academic discipline concerned with the application of technology to the collection, storage and use of information in health care. OHSU has an international reputation in medical informatics, enrolling more students than any other similar program in the world. OHSU has awarded 30 master's degrees in the field since 1998 and has 60 students currently enrolled. A doctoral program is expected to begin next fall, and a postdoctoral fellowship has existed since 1992.

In addition, OHSU was among the first to offer a medical informatics distance-learning program. About 200 students from around the world currently take the distance-learning classes. Graduates of OHSU's medical informatics programs find work with hospitals and clinics, health product vendors and manufacturers, and other universities.

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Hersh is secretary of the American Medical Informatics Association, a member of the editorial board of the association's journal and a fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics. He will become co-chair of the IMIA Working Group on Education in 2004. Hersh is the author of the recently published book, Information Retrieval: A Health & Biomedical Perspective (Second Edition).


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