New Graduate Course in Biomedical Data Science

Scientists and healthcare providers have always collected and analyzed data and have developed tools for analyzing large data sets. However, with the pervasiveness of monitoring devices, sequencing technologies, and increased adoption of electronic health records, biomedical data is becoming increasingly diverse and complex. Big Data, as this has been called, creates many new challenges, as well as new opportunities.


In the Fall of 2015, The University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine began offering an interdisciplinary graduate course in biomedical data science. “Data scientists generate value by uncovering new knowledge about population health and clinical care” said Jason Moore, Edward Rose Professor of Informatics and Director of Penn’s Institute for Biomedical Informatics. “With the Introduction to Biomedical Data Science course, we are creating the opportunity for healthcare providers and researchers alike from a number of different backgrounds the foundation to further develop their skills in this area”.


The new course provides a lot of hands-on training. Through short lectures, students get exposed to techniques and fields in modern biomedical research that generate large amounts of data and the analytical techniques to make sense of the data and present it. In a mentored practicum during each class, students gain experience analyzing real data sets. Students also complete their own research projects on a topic of their choice during the semester.


“In this course, students use R software to learn to manipulate and explore large datasets to generate new hypotheses and answer scientific questions,” said Course Director Blanca Himes.  “By the end of the course, we expect that students will be familiar with data analysis approaches they can use in a variety of settings.”


The Introduction to Biomedical Data Science (currently offered as EPID 600) is designed to be a cornerstone of a Certificate in Biomedical Informatics to be offered by the Institute of Biomedical Informatics starting Fall of 2016.