Biomedical Informatics

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Database construction; data management

Director for Clinical Informatics: Elmer V. Bernstam, MD, MSE
Co-Director for Translational Informatics (UT MDACC lead): Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD
Co-Director for Bioinformatics: Jeffrey Chang, PhD

Director, Bioinformatics Service Unit: Wenjin (Jim) Zheng, PhD - Wenjin.J.Zheng@uth.tmc.edu713-500-3641
Contact person: Rifhat Ali - Rifhat.Ali@uth.tmc.edu713-500-3926  
Main Website: https://sbmi.uth.edu/uth-big/

Purpose

Translational research requires the application of knowledge gained in one context to another context and therefore the transfer of data from one context to another. The goal of the CCTS Biomedical Informatics Component is to transform clinical and translational research by improving communication and integrating disparate data sources, including clinical, laboratory, regulatory, and administrative data.  The Biomedical Informatics Component is working at two levels:  institutional and individual.

Institutional level

The Component’s activities at this level can be summarized as:

  • Developing a research Clinical Data Warehouse (CDW) that allows access to data from multiple sources and institutions, including developing processes and implementing systems to transfer data among the CCTS’s component institutions and among UTHealth’s six component schools
  • Working within UTHealth to foster best-practices in data management to allow data integration and re-purposing
  • Working with other CTSA institutions at the national level to develop policies and approaches to support biomedical research
  • Advancing the science of biomedical informatics

Individual Level

At this level, the Component consults with investigators planning studies to assist them with their informatics needs, including:

  • Helping investigators follow “best practices” in data management, including:
    • maintaining security of data
    • assisting compliance with regulatory data handling standards by following appropriate data standards for submission to the FDA, making data sets available as per NIH guidelines, etc.
    • streamlining data entry and management processes
  • Designing and implementing databases
  • Composing and implementing interfaces for clinical data collection
  • Modifying existing databases for more efficient use, including transitioning from Excel to server-based data storage and analysis
  • Helping investigators obtain and use electronic access to existing resources within and outside of UTHealth

Highlighted Work

Below is a small overview of the team’s work. A comprehensive look at projects and services is available at https://sbmi.uth.edu/uth-big/

Clinical Data Warehouse

The Clinical Data Warehouse (CDW) is intended to provide UTHealth investigators with a single source for obtaining access to clinical data from various systems. The data have been used for multiple research tasks cohort identification, comparative effectiveness research, natural language processing (NLP) as well as various applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. In addition to research, the system is also used for Quality Improvement projects.

Informatics’ clinical data includes over 5 million patients, updated nightly. The expanded CDW with UT Rio Grande Valley and UT Tyler is being used to advance Covid-19 research through National COVID Collaborative (N3C).

More information about data in the CDW is available at https://big.uth.edu/bigarc/.

REDCap Services

REDCap is a secure, web-based application for building and managing online surveys and longitudinal studies. Using REDCap's stream-lined process for rapidly developing projects, you can create and design projects using the drag-and-drop Online Designer, by uploading a data dictionary file, or with a programmatic API. The Informatics team provides support for developing REDCap forms and personalized REDCap training.

More information about REDCap services is available at https://sbmi.uth.edu/uth-big/services/redcap.htm

Contact Information

Investigators using the CRUs can request bioinformatics assistance on the iRIS/CCTS application. 

Other investigators can contact Rifhat Ali (Rifhat.Ali@uth.tmc.edu) to discuss options.

To learn more about team members please visit: https://sbmi.uth.edu/uth-big/team/.