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School & Program Updates

IUPUI Researchers Launch Public and Population Health Program That Will Fill Need for Informaticians

Dr. Brian Dixon, along with his co-director Dr. Titus Schleyer, are launching a new public and population health program that will train experts in informatics who can lead efforts to improve the health and health care of individuals and populations. The unique new program, launched by the Regenstrief Institute in collaboration with IU’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the IU School of Medicine, is supported by a five-year, $2.5 million award from the National Library of Medicine, an institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The Indiana Training Program in Public and Population Health Informatics, commencing in July, will prepare graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to work in a broad spectrum of entities in the healthcare industry and academia, as well as for local, state, and federal public health departments. These trainees will fill a need – forecasted to grow over the next decade and beyond – for informaticians who can design, validate, and implement solutions key to the maintenance and improvement of human health.

“There is a pent-up demand for informaticians with new skill sets in both public health and population health, but there has been a lack of educational and training programs to meet this need,” said Regenstrief Institute investigator Dr. Brian E. Dixon, associate professor of epidemiology in the Fairbanks School of Public Health, who co-directs the new program with Regenstrief Institute investigator Dr. Titus Schleyer, the Clem McDonald Professor of Biomedical Informatics at IU School of Medicine.

“As the healthcare industry transitions to population health, it will take new scientists who can employ machine learning, big data mining, predictive modeling, as well as other skills and core concepts from informatics at the population level to help health systems manage cohorts of individuals who have a particular disease, providing routine care for individuals with acute or chronic illnesses at a level that is consistent with trends in reimbursement going forward. Similar skills are needed to help public health departments meet the burgeoning demands that they face,” Dr. Dixon said.

“The US healthcare system is trying to learn how to do two things these days: how to take care of populations, not just patients, and, how to keep people healthy instead of waiting until they get sick. To achieve these goals, we need the kind of public and population health informatics researchers and practitioners that our unique program will train,” co-director Dr. Schleyer said.

Originally a computer scientist, Dr. Dixon joined the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health in 2014. Dr. Dixon also holds appointments at the Regenstrief Institute and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In those environments, he applies informatics methods to the improvement of population health in the context of care delivery. Dr. Dixon has published over 60 peer-reviewed publications as well as multiple book chapters. He is the editor of two books, including Health Information Exchange: Navigating and Managing a Network of Health Information Systems, which received the 2016 Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Book of the Year Award. Dr. Dixon was named to the Forty Under 40 list in 2014 by the Indianapolis Business Journal and the Outstanding Investigator for 2014 by the Regenstrief Institute’s Center for Biomedical Informatics. He was named a Fellow to HIMSS in 2012.

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