Our Educational Mission

The mission of BMI is to train the next generation of research leaders in biomedical informatics. Our students gain knowledge of the scholarly informatics literature and the application requirements of specific areas within biology and medicine. They learn to design and implement novel methods that are generalizable to a defined class of problems, focusing on the acquisition, representation, retrieval, and analysis of biomedical information. We also require training in understanding ethical, social, and legal issues and consequences of research. We seek to attract diverse candidates from all backgrounds and experiences.

What is Biomedical Informatics?

Biomedical informatics is a broad term comprising multiple areas.

  • Bioinformatics develops novel methods for problems in basic biology.
  • Translational Bioinformatics moves developments in our understanding of disease from basic research to clinical care.
  • Clinical Informatics develops methods and tools directly applied to patient care.
  • Public Health Informatics works on challenging problems from health systems and populations.
  • Imaging Informatics addresses intelligent management, interpretation, and annotation of biomedical images.

Our Graduate Degrees

The graduate training program offers the PhD degree, and three MS degrees (an academic research-oriented degree, a professional distance-learning masters for part-time students, and co-terminal for Stanford undergraduates). We also have post-doctoral fellows, and offer a distance learning certificate.

  • Prerequisites. For a graduate degree, the University requires the applicant to have a bachelor's degree, and to submit GRE scores (or MCATs for MDs). We do not require any particular major, but we do require that students have strong undergraduate preparation in computer science/software engineering, mathematics (especially calculus, probability and statistics, and linear algebra), and college-level biology. Applicants with limited backgrounds in these areas should fill the deficiencies prior to applying to our program.
  • Curriculum. MS and PhD candidates take coursework in four areas: (1) core BMI classes, (2) an individual plan with electives in computer science, statistics, mathematics, engineering, and allied informatics-related disciplines, (3) requiried coursework in social, legal, and ethical issues, (4) unrestricted electives. In addition, PhD candidates are required to choose electives in some area of biology or medicine. Degree candidates also learn important didactic skills by serving as teaching assistants in our core courses.
  • Funding. We have been continuously funded by a training grant from the National Library of Medicine since 1984, which provides fellowship support for students who are US citizens and permanent residents. We also recently were awarded a second training grant under the NIH initiative called Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K). International students bring outside funding or compete for Stanford Graduate Fellowships. Senior graduate students typically receive funding support through their research supervisor.