AMIA 2011 Symposium News Vol. 2, Issue 1

Thursday, June 23, 2011
AMIA Symposium News


Mark your calendar for Oct. 22-26 for attendance at the top meeting on biomedical and health informatics! This fall’s meeting is jam-packed: 192 papers were accepted by the Scientific Program Committee, chaired by R. Scott Evans, PhD, of Intermountain Healthcare/University of Utah. In addition, there are two keynotes by noteworthy experts at the top of their field—NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins and Dr. Gregory Abowd of Georgia Tech—33 panels, approximately a dozen workshops, four ACMI Fellow presentations, demonstrations, Partnerships-in-Innovation presentations (i.e., live and in-person case studies) and much, much more! All scientists interested in informatics are welcome, from senior informaticians and CMIOs to students at all levels, mid-career professionals, and those just getting started! “Un-conferences” during the Symposium will allow you to meet like-minded groups of individuals at lunchtime, and a number of networking and social events will further introduce you to potential colleagues, research partners, collaborators, and mentors, depending on where you are in your career. Join AMIA at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC, Oct. 22-26, 2011. View more at

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NIH Director to Keynote

CollinsWhen Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, delivers one of two keynote addresses at AMIA’s 35th Annual Symposium, attendees will hear from a man who works at the intersection of basic science, clinical medicine, and health policy—and understands the importance of medical informatics in pulling it all together. As Director of the National Institutes of Health for the past two years, Dr. Collins has been described by President Obama as one of the top scientists in the world, and by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a passionate visionary. Dr. Collins is scheduled to open the conference and address Symposium attendees on Oct. 23, at 1 pm. A second keynote will be delivered the following day, Monday morning, Oct. 24, by Gregory Abowd, Distinguished Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech.

Prior to his position at NIH, Dr. Collins was perhaps best known for his leadership of the Human Genome Project, which in 2003 successfully completed sequencing the human DNA library, both under budget and ahead of schedule. Those DNA sequences are stored and made freely available to researchers through the NIH’s massive GenBank database.

Dr. Collins is also credited with leading a research team in the discovery of several important genes, including those for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, and Huntington’s disease, among others. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007.

As NIH director, Dr. Collins has shown keen interest in problems that can only be solved with the assistance of biomedical informatics. In fact, on his first day on the job, Collins outlined five key areas of opportunity for the NIH. Among them were:

  • Translating scientific research into clinical practice;
  • Putting science to work for the benefit of healthcare reform through comparative effectiveness research and health information technology; and
  • Placing greater focus on global health.
Informatics Focus
Since then, Collins has addressed several areas where data-driven research is of critical importance, including:
  • Personalized medicine. Collins foresees a day when detailed analysis of genomic information and clinical data will enable physicians to tailor diagnostic tests and therapies to individual patients. He explores these ideas further in a 2010 book on personalized medicine, The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine.
  • Mobile health. With an explosion in the availability of smart phones around the world, Collins sees an expansive role for mHealth, achieving such varied goals as remote transmission of high-quality images of cells for interpretation in a central laboratory to improvements in the training of health workers in the field.
  • Translational research. Quickly getting research from bench to bedside will involve massive data crunching, Collin says, not only in screening thousands of potential chemical for therapeutic use but also in developing data banks that link tissue samples with clinical outcomes, thereby improving understanding of the molecular basis of disease.
  • Comparative effectiveness research. In Collins’ view, next-generation, patient-centered outcomes research will routinely rely on analysis of data gathered from electronic health records and clinical databases. Large observational studies will enable real-world data analysis in a way that clinical trials—though they remain the gold standard—cannot.
  • Patient protections. Collins notes that ethical, legal, and social issues must be addressed, so that genomic and other health information is not used to discriminate against people at work or in the health insurance marketplace.
To learn more about Dr. Collins and his views on the role of medical informatics in clinical research, patient care, and health policy, be sure to attend his AMIA 2011 keynote address on Oct. 23, at 1 p.m.

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Symposium Themes

If you’re wondering if you’ll find what interests you most at the Annual Symposium, please browse the program’s 17 robust themes to get an idea of the breadth and depth of this year’s meeting. All the themes appear online at the meeting site; here are a few to get you interested:

  • Clinical Workflow and Human Factors: Many aspects of human factors in clinical information system implementation and use that revolve around the clinician’s and clinic’s workflow.
  • Consumer Informatics and Multimedia Personal Health Records PHRs: The consumer perspective in the use of health information science designed to improve patient engagement, medical outcomes, and the healthcare decision-making process.
  • Data Integration and Exchange: Methods organizations have undertaken to develop and implement various clinical data integration and exchange activities, including use of standard data formats (e.g., continuity of care document or HL7) and vocabularies (e.g., SNOMED, LOINC, ICD-9).
  • Informatics Education and Workforce Development: Efforts to create an trained HIT workforce and to support the national build-out of clinical information systems and the informatics contributions embedded in this movement.
  • Informatics in Clinical Education: The application of information technology in health professional education and promotion of teaching informatics as a discipline.
  • Interactive Systems: Human-computer interaction (HCI) research, compelling designs, or innovative interactive technologies, including those that improve our understanding of the social and human elements of health technologies.
For more information, click here.

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Pre Symposium Events

In addition to AMIA tutorials which traditionally kick off the Annual Symposium, a number of other events are co-locating with AMIA 2011 to take advantage of timing and the convergence of informatics professionals that will descend upon the nation’s capital in late October. Take advantage of attractive hotel rates AMIA has negotiated for its members at the Washington Hilton, from Friday, Oct. 21 until Oct. 26, 2011, to attend these additional events:

  • Workshop on Interactive Systems in Healthcare/WISH 2011 Workshop: Oct. 22 presented by the Association of Computing and Machinery (ACM)
With growing emphasis on adoption and impact of Health IT (HIT), HIT researchers and practitioners are increasingly focusing on the design of interactive systems, human factors, and human–computer interaction. Despite this progress, however, there is largely untapped potential to create deeper and more profound connections among the biomedical, informatics, human–computer interaction, human factors, medical sociology and anthropology communities that would lead to the development of new methods, approaches, and techniques for removing the barriers to the adoption of HIT.

To address this limitation, the Association of Computing and Machinery (ACM) Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2010) hosted the 2010 Workshop on Interactive Systems in Healthcare (WISH 2010,, which attracted over 150 participants from a variety of disciplines and institutions. Building on the success of last year's workshop, AMIA is hosting WISH 2011 and co-locating it with the Annual Symposium. The workshop will feature invited talks, panels and a peer-reviewed technical program.

  • The EHR Usability Symposium 2011: “Usability Present and Future,” Oct. 21 presented by Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects – Cognitive (SHARPC)
AMIA members are invited to attend a collaborative discussion of state-of-the-science EHR Usability. Participants will have ample opportunity to interact with usability experts, representatives from industry, federal agencies and researchers from the ONC-sponsored SHARPC project. You are a prospective attendee if you are a consumer, vendor, usability professional, academic, researcher or practitioner. For more information please visit

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Editor's Note: Look for the second issue of Symposium News on July 21. It will include more about Dr. Abowd's keynote address on Industry Day, plus news about other special events and programming that will take place at the Annual Symposium!

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