Discipline Coordinator
Mary M. Gerkovich, Ph.D. (816) 235-1322, gerkovichm@umkc.edu

Biomedical and Health Informatics faculty who are members of the doctoral faculty.

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.

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

In order to complete the Interdisciplinary PhD with Biomedical and Health Informatics as the primary discipline, students are expected to complete at least 48 credit hours in post-baccalaureate studies consisting of the following:

  • 24-27 credit hours of primary discipline course work
  • 9-12 credit hours of co-discipline course work
  • 12 credit hours of dissertation research

Required Coursework

All students must complete a minimum of 18 credit hours that represent the following areas* in addition to elective coursework.

  • 6 credit hours of biostatistics
  • 6 credit hours of research methodology and research ethics
  • 6 credit hours of informatics courses (selected from the below choices)

*Courses taken to reflect this required coursework may be adjusted to reflect courses taken in the chosen co-discipline.


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 IPhD program. Coursework from the co-discipline cannot make up more than 40% of the total didactic coursework.


  • 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.
  • 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: Students are required to actively participate in the Multidisciplinary Seminar (MEDB 5540) throughout their graduate study. They must attend at least 80% of sessions each semester. Students will also be required to give at least three research presentations for the seminar course, including at least one literature review, one research overview related to their dissertation research topic, and one presentation of findings from their dissertation research.


Based on students’ experience and the requirements of their primary discipline, they will be required to complete 9-12 credit hours from the co-discipline. 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.

MEDB 5512 Clinical Trials

  • MEDB 5511 Principles and Applications of Epidemiologyor

MEDB 5514 Human Genome Epidemiology, or

MEDB 5535 Quantitative Aspects of Epidemiologic Research

MEDB 5521 Clinical Bioinformatics

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.

Suggested Complimentary Disciplines

Cell Biology and Biophysics
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
Oral and Craniofacial Sciences
Pharmaceutical Science
Public Affairs and Administration
Computer Science


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 UMKC IPhD Admissions page to learn about the general admissions requirements.

Discipline Specific Admissions Requirements

Please visit the UMKC School of Medicine IPhD Admissions page to learn about the discipline specific requirements.