The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in travel restrictions that have directly impacted the School of Informatics and Computing’s Department of BioHealth Informatics and its ability to educate its students in the Fall semester. This has resulted in many international students deferring their admission until the Spring. The BHIRC was approached to develop an engagement program to reach out to the students from India and get them involved with the school through a competition designed to develop solutions for dealing with the pandemic. This four-month serial competition will introduce them to informatics in a practical way while helping them to prepare for attending in the Spring. It will pair future and existing students to build relationships with peers, faculty, and the school to help make their educational experience a success.
The BHIRC was approached by the Indiana Fire Chief’s Association (IFCA) to participate in a FEMA grant designed to ensure that Indiana has enough personnel in fire protection to serve the needs of the state. The IFCA is looking for a university partner who can provide advanced analytics expertise in developing program to recruit and retain volunteer fire fighters in areas of the state that are experiencing shortfalls. The BHIRC will help design the study and conduct the analysis of the resulting data. Dr. Schwebach and the BHIRC was recommended by the company that will prepare the communication campaign for the IFCA based on the results.
The BHIRC is participating with the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office (ICO) and the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) in the SBA FAST program, which is responsible for helping faculty and students apply for and win more SBIR/STTR grants to start new businesses. The NIIC is coordinating this effort by providing the training while the BHIRC and ICO will work to identify potential candidates and set up the training for candidates associated with IU. This will be the first collaboration between these three organizations to help develop the business infrastructure growing academic intellectual property developed at IU.
The BHIRC and DR Schwebach collaborated with DR. Cathy Fulton and the Indiana Primary Care Association to submit a grant application for the CTSI Trailblazer program. This program is designed to provide startup money to begin a new stream of research. The research involves an assessment of prenatal care provided to underserved populations in Indiana through Federally Qualified Health Centers. This is framed by the recent COVID-19 pandemic as the study will look at care both before and during the pandemic. There are three goals for the research:
- Understand the ways in which prenatal care was provided to these mothers and which practices are most successful in providing better outcomes
- Evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the prenatal care provided and the subsequent outcomes
- Develop suggestions for the optimal ways to provide care during health emergencies and in subsequent non-emergency times.
The BHIRC was invited to collaborate with a multidisciplinary committee across the IUPUI campus, including public health, social work, law, business, medicine, and the Herron School, to develop a proposal to seek external donor funding for addressing health issues in Indiana. As result of their efforts, the committee wrote and submitted a proposal to jointly develop the Interprofessional Center for Lifetime Health in response to the IUPUI Research, Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Initiative, in which the BHIRC will provide informatics support.
In February, Dr. Gary Schwebach represented the BHIRC at the recent Indiana Management Performance Hub Data Day event to introduce the Indiana State legislature and community to the power of data to inform good decision making. This started an initiative to bring the BHIRC into a closer working relationship with our state efforts to improve the health of Indiana. Looking back this now seems like a bit of foreshadowing.
Also in February BHIRC represented SOIC and BHI at the Biocrossroads Symposium on Artificial Intelligence in Indiana on February 18 to introduce the Indiana biotech industry to what the academic community is doing in research and preparing the workforce for the future. This resulted in many discussions about potential collaborations for future efforts and Dr. Schwebach has been busy following up on those discussions, which will provide many valuable real-world experiences for students.
February continued to be an eventful and productive month as Dr. Schwebach joined a team from BHI to explore a working collaboration with the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation in Fort Wayne. These discussions resulted in a preliminary agreement to provide interns and research services from the BHIRC and BHI.
Dr. Schwebach has been in the spotlight quite a bit lately. In early March he accepted an invitation to join the organizing committee for the 5th Annual Innovation and Commercialization Conference, which is scheduled to be held at IU Bloomington on September 17, 2020. This important event brings industry and academia together to jointly explore the latest developments in information technology across multiple disciplines and sectors. His expertise will be a tremendous asset to the conference committee, and the conference will likely generate many collaboration opportunities.
On May 11, Dr. Schwebach was interviewed by the 16Tech Maker’s Space for a webcast discussion on innovation and entrepreneurship in Central Indiana. Alex Bandar, who leads the Maker Space, and Dr. Schwebach discussed the value of prototyping in starting a new business based on new products. The discussion had a particular focus on the role of informatics in helping with both the design and the eventual commercialization of a new invention. Dr. Schwebach has been invited back to discuss the role of advanced data analytics in new product development. This discussion can be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO7vtgr8u9U&fbclid=IwAR3NFdfdPVsZeCzrovD1NUxQCj_8-zw3_j7txV9Bg1RXn6D-2BHz-IrmHwY
Early this year BHIRC was pleased to have coordinated with Dr. Huanmei Wu and Dr. Cathy Fulton to develop a HRSA grant application in collaboration with the IU School of Medicine and the Indiana Primary Health Care Association. The goal is to develop a program to predict which expectant mothers would experience health problems during their pregnancy to allow earlier identification and intervention, as part of the continued effort to decrease Indiana infant mortality rates. The application was submitted earlier this year and while we are eagerly awaiting the results, we are ready to get to work.
As part of its ongoing mission to build a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and innovative informatics community, the BHIRC attended the 16th Annual Parkview Research Symposium, on March 5, to represent SOIC and meet with the healthcare industry leaders to identify potential collaboration opportunities between the school and Indiana companies. This gave attendees a front-row seat in learning about the many new innovations in the arena of health informatics. The symposium was a great experience and spawned several partnership opportunities for the BHIRC.
Greetings and salutations from BHIRC. We have postponed updates for the past few months due to recent world events, but we would like you to take some time in the coming weeks to update you on what we have been working on. Throughout the late fall and early winter, BHIRC joined in multiple SOIC advisory board meetings to obtain feedback on what employers are looking for in BHI graduates. The biggest gap that was identified was the students were not equipped with the skills to navigate working in an organizational environment. In response to this feedback from industry advisory board members, the BHIRC began to develop a training program for MS students on the soft skills of working in an internship or employment, including organizational, social, communication, and writing skills.