Dear Faculty, Trainees and Staff,
On September 1, 2023, the Biomedical Informatics (BMI) training program will finalize its last step in merging with the Department of Biomedical Data Science (DBDS) and formally change its name to the Biomedical Data Science training program.
Our trainees admitted after September 1, 2023 will be earning their Master’s and PhD degrees in Biomedical Data Science.
The mission of our department and the training program remain fully aligned to “advance precision health by leveraging large, complex, multi-scale real-world data through the development and implementation of novel analytical tools and methods.” Aligning the name of the degree program with department name is widely regarded as both logical and appropriate. More importantly, it reflects a shared vision in our research and education missions that serves to pull our integrated work in biomedical informatics, biostatistics and AI/ML under a unified interdisciplinary umbrella.
The curriculum of our graduate program will not change. The spectrum of research and education activities in the department will continue to house innovations in biomedical informatics, biostatistics, and AI/ML, now with explosive work in generative AI and foundation models. We will continue to emphasize our driving force to advance precision health with activities across the entire biomedical spectrum. We will continue to embrace our responsibility to address ethics, bias, privacy and security considerations that come with building innovative data-driven solutions in biomedicine. Most importantly, we will continue to train thought leaders and PIs.
This decision was made with great consideration as valuable input was sought from the BMI Executive Committee, faculty, students, alumni, emeritus faculty, the faculty senate, and internal and external partners. We have received a great deal of positive support for the name change. In surveys, focus groups and 1-1 discussions over the past 18 months, we found that “Biomedical Data Science” is seen as a broader title with a majority of constituents. The degree name change will also streamline operations by removing the confusion that has been occurring with our degree name differing from our home department name – almost every degree program at Stanford University is congruent with the name of its home department.
For faculty, no additional actions need to be taken. The Department of Biomedical Data Science administration will oversee and conduct the name change operations on our website and all public facing forums. We will not change the course titles this year (BIOMEDIN and BIODS) but plan to do so at future time, with planning and advance notification. Current students will be given the option to change their degree name to Biomedical Data Science by a deadline date, to be announced. Instructions on how to make that change will become available at the beginning of fall quarter and we will issue further communications on social media, in our weekly digest and in email form. The name of the National Institute of Health National Library of Medicine T15 grant will not change; the students on the grant will still be considered as part of the Biomedical Informatics training program, with newly admitted students earning degrees in Biomedical Data Science, as well as current students who opt-in for the new degree name. The National Library of Medicine is supportive of this degree name change.
Given that our BMI program has an outstanding world-class reputation, we will launch comprehensive communications to ensure continuation of our training program’s recognition, highlighting that the success of the BMI program led to the creation of its permanent home in the Department of Biomedical Data Science, launched in 2015. We are confident that the alignment of our degree name and department name will further elevate our work as we continue to grow with a world-class reputation well into the future.
As we move towards September 1, we will continue to update and inform the Department of Biomedical Data Science community on progress as we move through this next stage in our evolution. In the meantime, we welcome any questions that you may have regarding the degree name change.
Please find the most frequently asked questions about the name change and their answers here.
Sylvia K. Plevritis, Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Data Science and of Radiology
Chair, Department of Biomedical Data Science
Director, Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program