Category: News

CDC Scientist Discusses Building Community in the Era of Big Data

Decisions about how to prevent disease and promote health are increasingly relying on data science, but how accessible is data science to the scientific community? Chad Heilig is the Associate Director for Data Science in the Center for Epidemiology, Surveillance, and Laboratory Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he argues that every scientist who wants to do good things with data should have the intellectual support to do so.

Join the Health Informatics Institute Thursday, February 1, in 241 Russell Hall, Health Sciences Campus, as Dr. Heilig presents “Who Gets to Do Data Science?”

This presentation lays out a working definition of data science and, more importantly, who practices data science and how. To keep up with rapidly changing methods, technology, and tools, self-learning problem-solvers need know-how to bridge domain knowledge and methods, love of knowledge to drive problem-solving with data, and a supportive culture of mentors and peers.

Refreshments served from 11:45 until noon.  Presentation from noon until 1 PM.

PHII Director Talks Prepping Communities for Informatics

The 2017 – 2018 Health Informatics Institute seminar series continues this Thursday, January 11, 2018, at 12 p.m., in 241 Russell Hall on the Health Sciences Campus.

Thursday’s seminar features Jim Jellison, Director of Practice Support at the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII). Jellison focuses on interoperability between information systems used by public health and clinical care. He has nearly 20 years of experience evaluating technical and social aspects of health information systems. Jim is an alumnus of the CDC Informatics Fellowship where he worked with the National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. Prior to his CDC fellowship, Jim was with the Nashville Health Department in roles related to geographic information systems, surveillance, emergency preparedness, and environmental health. Jim holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology from East Tennessee State University and a Bachelor of Arts in the Social Sciences from Michigan State University.

The presentation is titled “Building Informatics Capabilities in State and Local Public Health Agencies” and will discuss how the PHII is preparing public health officers throughout rural and urban communities to adopt and utilize informatics in daily practice.

Dale Green Talks Future Role of Informatics in Healthcare at Recent Workshop

It’s no secret that the United States is struggling to figure out how to deliver effective, affordable healthcare. The U.S. spends $3.2 trillion on health services, 18 percent of its GDP, but it still ranks 31st in health outcomes among developed nations.

“Health informatics is positioned to be a solution,” said Dr. Dale Green, associate professor of health policy and management and Health Informatics Institute associate director at UGA’s College of Public Health. Green worked for years as a board-certified physician in the Athens area, eventually specializing in clinical informatics.

Green participated in a panel discussion of the needs and uses of informatics at a half-day workshop, “Advancing Informatics in Government and Industry,” hosted by the University of Georgia on December 1. The event aimed to promote discussion of how academia, industry and government can work together to address critical challenges in cybersecurity, data analytics and data science.

The healthcare industry has adapted to major changes in health data reporting, mostly incentivized by federal organizations like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But this limited form of clinical informatics is just the tip of the iceberg in health informatics.

“The problem with informatics as a discipline is that it has a different definition depending on who you ask, but generally I want to bring the human element to the technology,” said Green.

In healthcare, most data sources are points of transaction. The insurance codes associated with medical billing are a common example. When information is attached only to payment types and amounts, the context of that information can get lost, says Green.

The reasons why a person comes to interact with the healthcare system, often related to lifestyle, are questions informatics can help answer. Data from smartphones and health devices like FitBits can shape our understanding of the behaviors that lead to positive or negative health outcomes.

Green cautions, however, that constant data sharing carries the risk of privacy loss. Issues related to security and privacy have become barriers to adopting informatics technologies across industries.

“Changes in healthcare in particular are slow,” said Green. “They are people-driven.”

Healthcare providers need to be trained on how to best use this data, he adds. A lot of data is only as good as how it is applied. Predictive modeling and risk stratification are two areas where data is already improving care. Health services utilization is another.

“As a provider, how can I help a patient use X or Y service,” said Green. “That’s where we go next.”

Final HII seminar to discuss how deep learning can improve public health surveillance

Google uses it. Netflix uses it. It’s why these systems seem to know you and what you want to search for or watch. Deep learning is a type of machine learning model that can take in large amounts of data and use it to interpret new data as a person might, even predicting behavior. It’s been described as cutting edge of the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, and deep learning can play a crucial role in improving how public health informatics can use data to improve health and prevent disease.

In the final Health Informatics Institute seminar of the fall semester, the CDC’s Scott Lee will “Deep Learning Applied to Public Health Surveillance: Two Case Studies and an Overview of the Current State of the Art” on December 7th at 12:00 p.m. in 235 Russell Hall on the Health Sciences Campus.

Scott Lee is a statistician in the Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. His current work focuses on the application of contemporary machine learning models to problems in public health and biomedical informatics. He also has interests in experimental design and global health. He is a graduate of UGA, having received his PhD in linguistics in 2014.

How can GIS data improve health?

The third in the Health Informatics Institute’s Seminar Series features the University of Georgia’s Lan Mu discuss how geographic information system (GIS) methods can be used to improve public health. GIS  is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data, and its uses in the age of informatics is invaluable.

Join us on November 2 at 12:00 p.m. in room 241 Russell Hall on the Health Sciences Campus for Dr. Mu’s presentation entitled, “GIScience for Health and the Environment: Working with data from Social and Physical Environments to Social Media.”

Mu, Lan is a professor of geography at the University of Georgia.  Her research interests include GIScience for health and the environment, spatial analysis and modeling, computational geometry, cartography and geovisualization.  She also serves as the program coordinator of UGA’s undergraduate and graduate GIScience Certificate Programs.     

HII Seminar to Feature Talk on Big Data and Health

There is invaluable information health professionals can learn from the devices most of us interact with almost every hour of the day, but gathering and translating that data from our cell phones and FitBits into knowledge we can use presents a challenge. To discuss how to tackle that challenge, the second Health Informatics Institute seminar of the 2017 – 2018 series welcomes James M. Regh, a leading expert in gathering massive amounts of data from mobile and wearable devices.

Join us on October 5th, in room 241 Russell Hall, Health Sciences Campus, at 12:00 p.m. to hear Dr. Regh “Big Data in Behavioral Medicine.”

Dr. Rehg is a Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is Director of the Center for Behavioral Imaging and co-Director of the Center for Health Analytics and Informatics (CHAI) and the Computational Perception Lab (CPL). He received his Ph.D. from CMU in 1995 and worked at the Cambridge Research Lab of DEC (and then Compaq) from 1995-2001, where he managed the computer vision research group. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2001 and a Raytheon Faculty Fellowship from Georgia Tech in 2005. He and his students have received best student paper awards at ICML 2005, BMVC 2010, Mobihealth 2014, and Face and Gesture 2015, and a 2013 Method of the Year Award from the journal Nature Methods.

Dr. Rehg serves on the Editorial Board of the Intl. J. of Computer Vision, and he served as the Program co-Chair for ACCV 2012 and General co-Chair for CVPR 2009, and is serving as Program co-Chair for CVPR 2017. He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and holds 25 issued US patents. His research interests include computer vision, machine learning, robot perception and mobile health. Dr. Rehg was the lead PI on an NSF Expedition to develop the science and technology of Behavioral Imaging, the measurement and analysis of social and communicative behavior using multi-modal sensing, with applications to developmental disorders such as autism. He is currently the Deputy Director of the NIH Center of Excellence on Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K), which is developing novel on-body sensing and predictive analytics for improving health outcomes. 

Health Informatics Institute launches brown bag series to talk research in progress

The Health Informatics Institute (HII) announces the addition of a brown bag seminar series. This informal series provides a forum for researchers to discuss future or ongoing health informatics-related work, with the goal of receiving feedback, finding collaborators, identifying projects for future grant submissions, etc.

Tim Heckman, HII director, will give the first presentation on October 12th at 12:00 p.m. in the Rhodes Garden Level Room on the Health Sciences Campus. Following brown bag talks will meet at the same time and location:

November 9: Steve Bellan, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, UGA College of Public Health

December 14: Lesley Clack, assistant professor of health policy and management,UGA College of Public Health

Everyone is welcome to attend.

For questions, contact Andreas Handel (


2017 – 2018 HII Seminars to Begin This Thursday

The 2017 – 2018 Health Informatics Institute seminar series kicks off this Thursday, September 7th at 12:00 p.m, in 241 Russell Hall, Health Sciences Campus

This Thursday’s seminar will feature the Georgia Informatics Institute founding director, Kyle JohnsenDr. Johnsen is an Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is the founding director of the Georgia Informatics Institutes (GII) for Research and Education.  His highly interdisciplinary research is in the design and evaluation of novel human-computer systems, particularly those that involve ubiquitous computing and virtual reality, that address societal problems. Examples of his work can be found in the NOAA-funded Marine Debris Tracker App (, NSF-funded Virtual STEM Buddies exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta, and NIH-funded

The seminar, titled “Informatics of Virtual Experiences: Applications in Health and Education,” will focus on the innovative and useful informatics systems that can be created by tying together user identity, interactions with virtual experiences, and activities in real life.  Concrete examples from past and current projects will be presented as well as opportunities for future research and collaborations.

The series will continue each month, hosting seminars in Russell Hall on the first Thursday of the month. For more information, please contact Dr. Andreas Handel at .

HII Inaugural Seminar

Current Issues in Health Informatics – Health Informatics Institute Inaugural Seminar

Time: April 13, 2017 – 11:30am – 1pm
Location: 241 Russell Hall, UGA Health Sciences Campus
Mark Braunstein, M.D., professor of the practice at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing, will speak on the emerging issues facing health informatics in a lecture sponsored by the newly formed UGA Health Informatics Institute. Join the HII and the College of Public Health Thursday, April 13 at 11:30 am on the Health Sciences Campus in Russell Hall Room 241. Refreshments will be provided.

Link for more details:


Welcome to the web presence of the Health Informatics Institute at UGA.

This is currently a very basic site, it will be filled with more content shortly.

In the meantime, take a look at what’s already there, and if you are interested in learning more, contact us.