Newswise — In order to develop a talent pipeline with individuals from diverse backgrounds in public health and data science to address future public health response, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) has been awarded a nearly $10 million cooperative agreement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

The grant is part of the Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program (PHIT) Workforce Program.

UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics and UTHealth School of Public Health will work together to provide training in public health informatics. The schools aim to provide approximately 1,900 students and professionals with educational services and career development resources over a four-year period.

Educators from multiple institutions will collaborate to collectively train students as well as public health, clinical, and health academic professionals using an interdisciplinary approach in public health informatics and technology. In addition to learning important public health informatics skills, students will participate in sponsored internships with public health and clinical organizations.

 “We are very excited to have this opportunity,” said Susan Fenton, PhD, associate professor and associate dean of academic and curricular affairs with the School of Biomedical Informatics. “SPH and SBMI are the only two schools in the state to offer public health informatics training. This consortium will expand the training with our partner institutions, increasing the diversity of the workforce fully knowledgeable in public health informatics.”

UTHealth will partner with Texas Tech University Health Science Center, and the minority-serving institutions of Huston-Tillotson University, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M International University, The University of Texas Arlington, The University of Texas El Paso, The University of Texas Permian Basin, and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. In partnering with these Texas universities, UTHealth can share best practices adopted and lessons learned while also helping the underrepresented public health informatics and technology workforce flourish.

“This program is a critical step in ensuring future public health response is led by a talented and diverse pool of individuals,” said Eric Boerwinkle, PhD, dean of UTHealth School of Public Health. “As both the largest and oldest school of public health in Texas with six campuses across the state, UTHealth School of Public Health is well equipped to help train the next generation of our public health workforce.”

The nearly $10 million grant is part of a $73 million award from the ONC to Bowie State University; California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation; Dominican College of Blauvelt, Inc.; Jackson State University; Norfolk State University; Regents of the University of Minnesota; University of Massachusetts at Lowell; University of California, Irvine; and University of the District of Columbia.