Discipline Coordinator
Jenifer E. Allsworth, Ph.D. (816) 235-1781, allsworthj@umkc.edu

Biomedical and Health Informatics is a discipline in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program administered by the School of Graduate Studies.

Note: The discipline-specific requirements listed here are in addition to the requirements listed in Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Application Procedure and Minimum Criteria for Admission and Minimum Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Academic Regulations and Degree Requirements. Information on applying to the Biomedical and Health Informatics discipline can be found at the School of Medicine web site for the Primary discipline and Co-discipline.

Discipline Overview

Biomedical and Health Informatics is the “scientific field that deals with biomedical information, data, and knowledge – their storage, retrieval, and optimal use for problem solving and decision making. It accordingly touches on all basic and applied fields in biomedical science and is closely tied to modern information technologies, notably in the areas of computing and communication, i.e. medical computer science.” (Definition from Stanford University, Medical Informatics.) The National Center for Biotechnology Information defines Bioinformatics as the “field of science in which medicine, biology, computer science, and information technology merge to form a single discipline. The ultimate goal of the field is to enable the discovery of new biological insights as well as to create a global perspective from which unifying principles in biology and health can be discerned.”

Curriculum Overview

The goal of the Biomedical and Health Informatics PhD discipline is to train researchers to contribute to the translation of basic science findings into patient care and ultimately into community standards and policy. Given the diversity of specialties that are included in the field of biomedical and health informatics, individual training will vary depending on the student’s career goals. Graduates of this discipline will be able to apply knowledge and skills in the area of biomedical and health informatics by: generating a research hypothesis; proposing, conducting, and reporting research; performing appropriate statistical analysis; and, communicating scientific information.


Applicants must meet both the general and the discipline specific criteria for admission and be recommended for admission by the doctoral faculty review groups in at least two disciplines. Upon approval by the graduate dean, students are admitted to the School of Graduate Studies.

General Admissions Requirements

Please visit the Interdisciplinary PhD Program Admissions Page to learn about the general application requirements.

Discipline Specific Admissions Requirements

Please visit the School of Medicine web site for information on applying to the Biomedical and Health Informatics Primary discipline and Co-discipline to learn about the discipline specific application requirements. Your application to the Biomedical and Health Informatics primary discipline or co-discipline is NOT complete until you submit a one-page Goal Statement explaining your interest in the discipline through the School of Medicine Supplemental Application.

Suggested Compatible Disciplines

Cell Biology and Biophysics, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacology, Public Affairs and Administration, Social Science Consortium

Core Program Requirements

Biomedical and Health Informatics as a Primary Discipline

Students with Biomedical and Health Informatics as their primary discipline must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate coursework in the combination of their primary discipline, co-discipline, and electives (exclusive of dissertation hours). No more than 60% (21 of 36 credit hours) can be from any one discipline. A minimum of 9 credit hours of graduate coursework in the co-discipline is required by the Interdisciplinary PhD Program; specific requirements of the student’s chosen co-discipline, however, may require additional credit hours beyond the 9.

Core coursework in the Biomedical and Health Informatics primary discipline will include a minimum of 18 credit hours of courses in the following areas; courses taken to meet this requirement may be adjusted to reflect the courses taken in the chosen co-discipline.

Biostatistics (select 2 of the following)6 hours required
Biostatistics I
Biostatistics II
Mixed-Effects Models
Quantitative Aspects of Epidemiologic Research
Research Methodology and Research Ethics6 hours required
Clinical Research Methodology
Responsible Conduct of Research
Informatics (select 2 of the following)6 hours required
Intro-Medical Informatics
Clinical Bioinformatics
Bioinformatics and Data Analysis
Introduction to Bioinformatics

Elective Coursework

The number of credit hours of elective graduate coursework that a student completes will vary depending on the number of credit hours required by their co-discipline; the total number of graduate coursework credit hours across their primary discipline, co-discipline, and electives must equal 36 credit hours. Students may work with their advisors to tailor elective coursework based on their specific areas of interest. For example, students interested in genomics will take different elective courses than students interested in a clinical research emphasis. At least 75% of the total coursework must be from disciplines that are certified as eligible to participate in the Interdisciplinary PhD program.

Discipline Specific Requirements

  • Qualifying Examination: The qualifying examination must be successfully completed before the student can enroll in dissertation and research hours and focus on his/her dissertation research.
  • Comprehensive Examination: The comprehensive examination will consist of both a written component and an oral component that reflects dissertation research.
  • Dissertation Research: Dissertation research will be conducted while the student is enrolled in Dissertation and Research (D&R) credit hours (MEDB 5696-5699). A total of 12 credit hours in D&R must be completed before the dissertation will be approved. Dissertation research will be reported in both a written format (three publication-ready manuscripts) and an oral format (formal presentation of dissertation research).
  • Written Dissertation: The final format of the dissertation work that will be submitted to the university will follow general dissertation formatting guidelines and will include the three publication-ready manuscripts.
  • Graduate Seminar: Doctoral students are required to attend and actively participate in the Multidisciplinary Seminar, which will include providing research presentations.

Biomedical and Health Informatics as a Co-discipline

Based on students’ experience and the requirements of their primary discipline, they will be required to complete at least 9 credit hours from the co-discipline as specified by the UMKC Interdisciplinary PhD Program. While the following courses are suggested core components for the Biomedical and Health Informatics co-discipline, students may work with the discipline coordinator to create an individualized plan of study for their co-discipline courses.

MEDB 5510Clinical Research Methodology3
MEDB 5511Principles and Applications of Epidemiology3
or MEDB 5514 Human Genome Epidemiology
or MEDB 5535 Quantitative Aspects of Epidemiologic Research
MEDB 5501Applied Biostatistics I3
MEDB 5502Applied Biostatistics II3
MEDB 5520Introduction to Medical Informatics3
MEDB 5521Clinical Bioinformatics3

Note: All students will be expected to have Biostatistics as a core competency for this co-discipline; however, it is assumed that students with a primary discipline in Mathematics will not need additional course work in statistical analysis. Those students may be required to complete Introduction to Medical Informatics or Clinical Bioinformatics instead.

For the department’s policy on academic progression, please contact the discipline coordinator.