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Professor to lead national biomedical organization

September 22, 2008

The leading professional biomedical and health informatics organization has chosen an Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering professor to become its next president and chief executive officer.

Edward Shortliffe will take the helm of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) in July 2009. Shortliffe is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, a part of the School of Computing and Informatics in Arizona State University’s engineering school.

Also a professor of medicine and basic medical sciences at the University of Arizona, Shortliffe was the founding dean of the Phoenix campus of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in partnership with ASU.

The 4,000-member AMIA works to foster development and application of informatics in support of patient care, public health, teaching, research, administration, and related policy. Its members advance the use of health information and communications technology in clinical care and clinical research, personal health management, public health/population, and translational science, with the goal of improving health.  (More information about AMIA is available at

Shortliffe wants to See AMIA “become a major force in the evolution and improvement of our health system and the quality of care in the United States.”

With increasing recognition of the need for major change in the health care systems, AMIA is already becoming a significant source of advice for state and local governments, organizations and corporations, he said.

With the expertise of it members, AMIA can help address such issues as increasing health care access, improving administrative efficiency, and reducing errors throughout the health care system, he said.

The choice of Shortliffe to lead the AMIA “reflects the high caliber of our biomedical informatics program, and it is going to boost our prominence at a national level,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the School of Computing and Informatics. “It’s an honor to have someone of his experience and stature in the field in the department.”

ASU has already established a reputation for introducing an impressive new academic program in biomedical informatics under department chair Robert Greenes, Shortliffe said. “A closer relationship with AMIA will draw more recognition for our educational and research programs. That will help us recruit new faculty and graduate students of the highest quality,” he said.

Shortliffe came to Arizona in 2007 from a position as chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Previously, he was a professor of medicine and computer science at Stanford University for more than two decades.

At Stanford, he led the establishment of the graduate degree program in biomedical informatics in the early 1980s. He divided his time there between internal medicine practice and biomedical informatics research.

At Columbia University, where also he was also deputy vice president for Strategic Information Resources, he directed the  Medical Informatics Services for NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

He continues to be closely involved with biomedical informatics graduate training at ASU and his research interests include a broad range of issues related to integrated decision-support systems and their effective implementation, and the role of the Internet in health care.

Shortliffe is a founding member of AMIA and one of the five AMIA Fellows who created the American College of Medical Informatics. He is also an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association.

He has also been elected a Master of the American College of Physicians, a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and authored more than 300 articles and books on medical computing and artificial intelligence.

Shortliffe is to be AMIA president and chief executive for at least three years. In addition to his duties with the organization, he will continue to be director of graduate training in ASU’s biomedical informatics department.

 For more information about the biomedical informatics program, see