Bioinformatics Are A Research Strength Here

UMKC hosts first annual regional conference

Among the strengths of Kansas City and the region are the institutions with strong capabilities in bioinformatics. That’s why the University of Missouri-Kansas City is hosting the First Annual Midwest Bioinformatics Conference Oct. 15 and 16 in collaboration with the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

Bioinformatics, which includes many areas related to “big data,” is a broad range of analyses applied to make human and animal health better, to understand disease mechanisms and crop production, reduce healthcare disparities and improve health outcomes. The Kansas City area has a high concentration of informatics employers including Cerner, Netsmart, healthcare providers, the Stowers Institute and universities. UMKC has a strong program in Biomedical and Health informatics and has recently established new initiatives with Truman Medical Center and Cerner that will further expand capabilities.

“Our efforts to expand informatics are a key element of our university-wide and Research and Economic Development strategic plans,” said Lawrence Dreyfus, UMKC Vice Chancellor of Research Services. “We have increased our informatics footprint with the addition of a signature multidisciplinary master’s degree program across the Schools of Computing and Engineering; Medicine; and Biological Sciences. In addition, we have significantly increased our number of faculty with expertise in various aspects of informatics, particularly in the School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics. Most recently, the creation of the Center for Health Insights has allowed us to focus our interdisciplinary informatics activities around a central hub that provides, training, service, research support and community outreach.”

Speakers at the conference, held in the UMKC Student Union, include John Spertus, UMKC professor and endowed chair and director of health outcomes research at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, who is internationally acclaimed for his bioinformatics research on delivering personalized medicine. Other speakers include researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Duke, Stanford, the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The conference is designed to promote networking and career development, said Mark Hoffman, director of UMKC’s Center for Health Insights and co-chair of the conference.

“The Midwest Bioinformatics Conference is consistent with recommendations put forward in our 2011 Bioinformatics Assessment, which was funded by the Kauffman Foundation,” said Wayne Carter, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute. “Pulling together scientists interested in bioinformatics facilitates the potential for collaborations.”


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