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Institute for Informatics

“The institute will help focus the informatics landscape at the School of Medicine as we seek ways to transform research, education and patient care, especially in support of precision medicine and efforts to improve the quality of health care and public health initiatives locally, nationally and worldwide.”


Executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

What is Biomedical Informatics?

“Biomedical Informatics is the field that is concerned with the optimal use of information, often aided by the use of technology, to improve individual health, health care, public health, and biomedical research.”

Source: Hersh W. A stimulus to define informatics and health information technology. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. 2009 May 15;9(1):1.

Translational Bioinformatics

“… the development of storage, analytic, and interpretive methods to optimize the transformation of increasingly voluminous biomedical data into proactive, predictive, preventative, and participatory health.”

Source: Butte AJ. Translational bioinformatics: coming of age. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2008 Nov 1;15(6):709-14.

About the Institute

The fields of healthcare and life sciences are experiencing a fundamental shift toward transdisciplinary, integrative, and data-intensive approaches to research. These developments, coupled with the use of information technology platforms, are helping transform healthcare, achieving greater value alongside improved outcomes and safety. The complex data, information, and knowledge needs associated with these changes requires a comprehensive approach to biomedical informatics research, education, and practice.

Washington University (WU) has created the Institute for Informatics (I2) to provide an academic and professional home for informatics science and practice. I2 spans The School of Medicine (SOM) as well as partnerships with the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Institute for Public Health, the Brown School, the Olin School of Business, the Health Systems Innovation Lab and Center for Clinical Excellence at BJC HealthCare, and the Cortex Innovation Community.

The institute engages in innovative research, workforce development, and informatics service delivery, targeting a variety of critical areas of need, including:

  • The integration and dissemination of heterogeneous data, information, and knowledge resources
  • Computational approaches to the interpretation of bio-molecular, image, and clinical phenotypes to inform precision medicine
  • The acceleration of clinical and translational research through the systematic management of study protocols, data resources, and analytical pipelines
  • The creation of learning healthcare systems in which cyclical evidence generation and application becomes integral to care delivery
  • The use of ubiquitous computing and sensing technologies capable of facilitating population health monitoring and intervention strategies
  • Methodological and technical approaches to enable and enhance research reproducibility and rigor

I2 is led by Dr. Philip Payne and draws upon a multi-disciplinary team of faculty investigators, technical staff, and trainees that are fully integrated with the departments and institutes comprising the SOM and partnering academic units from throughout WU. The institute provides for a crosscutting community of practice that enhances and extends the academic and operational strengths of WU and leverages the unique living laboratory afforded by the WU, BJC HealthCare, and the Cortex Innovation Community.

Learning Healthcare Systems

“Every day, physicians and other clinicians around the country record millions of observations and treatment decisions in electronic medical records—creating a vast repository of information that is increasingly being used by clinical researchers to answer practical questions about the safety, effectiveness, and value of health care services.  As these researchers turn data from routine clinical care into knowledge and knowledge into guidance for physicians at the point of care, they help create what the Institute of Medicine has called ‘learning health care systems.’”

Source: Institute of Medicine, Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, Sept. 2012

By The Numbers

$93 million

NIH funding involving biomedical informatics-relevant research


Number of Washington University publications involving basic and applied informatics research


Number of patient records housed in the BJC Clinical Repository

Population Health Informatics

“Population Health Informatics (PopHI) integrates aspects of public health, clinical informatics, and healthcare delivery with the target of improving healthcare system effectiveness and the well-being of communities and populations.”

Source: Kharrazi H, Lasser EC, Yasnoff WA, Loonsk J, Advani A, Lehmann HP, Chin DC, Weiner JP. A proposed national research and development agenda for population health informatics: summary recommendations from a National Expert Workshop. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 2016 Mar 25:ocv210.

About the Director

Director, Institute for Informatics
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Philip R.O. Payne, PhD, FACMI, is the founding Director of the Institute for Informatics (I2) at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also serves as a Professor in the Division of General Medical Sciences. Previously, Dr. Payne was Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Payne is an internationally recognized leader in the field of clinical research informatics (CRI) and translational bioinformatics (TBI). His research portfolio is actively supported by a combination of NCATS, NLM, and NCI grants and contracts, as well a variety of awards from both non-profit and philanthropic organizations.

Dr. Payne received his Ph.D. with distinction in Biomedical Informatics from Columbia University, where his research focused on the use of knowledge engineering and human-computer interaction design principles in order to improve the efficiency of multi-site clinical and translational research programs. Prior to pursuing his graduate training, Dr. Payne served in a number of technical and leadership roles at both the UCSD Shiley Eye Center and UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Payne’s leadership in clinical research informatics community has been recognized through his appointment to numerous national steering, scientific, editorial, and advisory committees, including efforts associated with the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), AcademyHealth, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and the CTSA consortium, as well as his engagement as a consultant to academic health centers throughout the United States and the Institute of Medicine.


  • Knowledge-based approaches to the discovery and analysis of bio-molecular and clinical phenotypes and the ensuing identification of precision diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in cancer
  • Interventional approaches to the use of electronic health records in order to address modifiable risk factors for disease and enable patient-centered decision making
  • The study of human factors and workflow issues surrounding the optimal use of healthcare information technology

Campus Box 8005    660 S. Euclid Avenue    Sixth Floor, Becker Medical Library    St. Louis, MO 63110