Master's | In-person

Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics

Capstone Project

Experiential learning with a Capstone Project

Develop and lead an actionable Biomedical Informatics plan

Professional experience is an essential part of the Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics (MScBMI) at the University of Chicago. As the culminating experience of the program, you will work with an organization to solve a biomedical informatics problem. You will work on real projects solving real problems for businesses in research, technology, healthcare, or education.

This challenging and rewarding project will give you experience in the field, help you build connections, and increase your career potential.

Build a network while solving real-world problems

Make a difference while you are still a student

The Capstone process provides a path to build expertise in your focus area, connect with your cohort, and meet potential employers or references.

It is designed to offer students an opportunity to gain experience working on real-life biomedical informatics-related problems. You will network with key industry leaders and will have individualized instruction from your academic advisor. This experience will push you into discovery, pave the way for published research, help you explore potential employment opportunities, and challenge you with problem-based work – all having an immediate and positive impact on your career.

Capstone teams engage with problems that may have wide-ranging effects in a variety of settings including clinical, research, and industry. Students identify the knowledge and framework required to address the problem and use the methodologies learned in the Biomedical Informatics program coursework to develop strategies which may involve creating new information management resources, optimizing current data systems, conducting data analysis, and scoping new solutions.

Capstone Project details

  • Capstone Overview: The capstone project is a degree requirement for students and is completed during the last three quarters of their program. Students work in small teams with a business partner to address key problems the company needs to solve. The program aids students in identifying viable projects and establishing a scientific advisory panel for oversight and mentorship. At our Capstone Showcase events, all projects are presented to faculty and sponsors for review and evaluation. (link to more details?)
  • Capstone Course Sequence: The Capstone course sequence consists of three consecutive classes. You will work directly with a Capstone sponsor according to your preferences, professional experience, and skills. After completing your research, you will produce a final report with all essential components of an academic paper.
  • Capstone Sponsor: Your Capstone sponsor is a representative from the organization sponsoring your project who will directly oversee your work. You will connect with your sponsor weekly or bi-weekly to discuss your project’s deliverables, goals, and scope. 
  • Scientific Advisors: Scientific advisors are MScBMI program instructors with subject-matter expertise on your project. You will meet with them regularly to talk about your proposal, research methods, and presentation.
  • Choosing a Capstone Partner: UChicago provide a portfolio of projects students may be matched to, based on their skills and interest. This provides them a vetted project, sponsor or researcher with real-world problem. Partnerships test program knowledge, but also skills like leadership, time management, project management, and teamwork. Some students get hired into the partner organization after graduation, while others find it easier to obtain a new role based on this experience and references from the project work. Students may also propose their own project. It may be related to work or research they are interested in but must be something outside of their normal daily job responsibilities.

Capstone Projects tailored to your area of specialization and interest

Some of our recent topics:

Students evaluated the frequency and causes of duplicate computed tomography (CT) scanning in receiving pediatric and adult trauma centers and considered use of electronic methods for image exchange.

Impact: Utilized scholarly research database to conduct literature review and concluded an industry-wide standards-based framework to facilitate the seamless electronic exchange of images is necessary to reduce duplication.

Students developed analytic template leveraging grouper methodology to examine health expenditures of a large corporation’s population.

Impact: Identified major drivers of population costs utilizing data analytics and visualization tools.

A cancer center at a large university has developed a research data warehouse for translational research. Data is generated across multiple domains and stored in a centralized repository. Robust Extract-Transform-Load capabilities have been missing. Students evaluated and made recommendations for ETL workflow.

Impact: Identified ETL workflow, informatics pipeline, and data quality-control strategies. Reviewed data collection process and documented risks to data quality. Proposed learning system approach for continuous data collection.

The need exists to characterize disease occurring in population with moderate-to-severe psoriasis (PsO) that may not be applicable to mild PsO or the general population. Students evaluated and identified cohorts based on EMR information.

Impact: Utilized EMR data to identify and stratify cohort of patients with PsO by severity based on their medication. Conducted descriptive and regression-based tree analyses to characterize each cohort. Concluded characteristics of those within the moderate-to-severe PsO cohort included advanced age, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes consistent with literature describing patients with more severe forms of PsO.

Gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma has a poor prognosis, high molecular heterogeneity and few targeted therapeutic options. Guardant360 is a clinical 73-gene next generation sequencing (NGS) panel for plasma circulating tumor (ct)DNA. Students evaluated a global cohort of 1314 Guardant360 tests to determine correlations between allele frequency of ctDNA, median overall survival and immunotherapy-treated survival.

Impact: Concluded ctDNA analysis merits further evaluation as a prognostic and predictive biomarker and in evaluating molecular heterogeneity.

Students evaluated correlation between pre-operative lab data and post-discharge adverse outcomes in elective hip and knee joint replacement.

Impact: Identified significant laboratory tests, risk adjusted data, and used logistic regression to predict an adverse event. Concluded abnormal values of Albumin and Hemoglobin were significant predictors of prolonged length of stay in both hip and knee patients.

Students developed a tool to assist clinical genomics group in handling the increasing volume of patient genetic data for a large healthcare system.

Impact: Utilized programming scripts to extract, transform and load data from dbSNP, ClinVar and COSMIC into postgreSQL database. Genetic information is now available through a single resource which helps with repeatability, documentation, and incidental reporting.

Students developed web-based database management system for acute care surgical residents.

Impact: Improved data collection and analysis for tracking patient status and estimate operative complication risks. Improved resident workflow and quality measures, provided residents with individual complication rates.

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Shape the Future of Health Informatics: Become a Capstone Advisor or Sponsor

Are you passionate about driving innovation in healthcare technology? We invite industry leaders and experts to join us as a Capstone sponsors for our prestigious Biomedical Informatics program at UChicago.

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