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Patel joins biomedical informatics team

February 05, 2007

Vimla L. Patel, an educator and researcher with a long list of impressive achievements in the medical sciences, has been named professor and interim chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics in ASU's new School of Computing and Informatics (SCI), a part of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering.

Since 2000, Patel has been a professor of biomedical informatics and psychiatry at Columbia University in New York . Before that, she was a professor of medicine and psychology, and director of the Centre for Medical Education, at McGill University in Montreal .

“Dr. Patel is an outstanding academician and researcher in biomedical informatics,” says Sethuraman Panchanathan, SCI's director. “Dr. Patel is internationally recognized for research contributions in cognitive modeling and assessment of clinical systems. We are delighted that she has agreed to help ASU lay the foundation for our new Department of Biomedical Informatics.”

Patel will work with Panchanathan to bring new faculty and students, and to recruit a permanent chair for the department. She will play a key role in developing educational programs, including doctoral and master's degree programs in biomedical informatics.

The Department of Biomedical Informatics also will provide informatics education for medical students at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix . The master's degree program in biomedical informatics will begin this fall.

Biomedical informatics is poised to have major impacts on medical research and health care.

The field involves the science of information management and use, encompassing the acquisition and evaluation of vast quantities of medical information and the efficient use of that information in advancing bioscience and improving health care management and treatment programs.

It's already leading to major progress in the evolution of “personalized medicine,” through which physicians and other health care practitioners can customize care for individual patients.

Patel says she was lured to ASU's biomedical informatics program by “an intellectually stimulating and remarkable combination of talent in many scientific fields and the enthusiasm to embrace a variety of areas of expertise.”

Her new position is “a unique opportunity to have my home base in a new biomedical informatics department that is within a school of engineering,” she says.

Patel is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada ( Academy of Social Sciences ), the American College of Medical Informatics and the New York Academy of Medicine. She received the Swedish “Woman of Science” award in 1999, and she is an associate editor of the Journal of Biomedical Informatics .