J Am Med Inform Assoc doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2012-001053
  • Perspective

AMIA Board white paper: definition of biomedical informatics and specification of core competencies for graduate education in the discipline

  1. Jeffrey J Williamson12
  1. 1Department of Computer Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2Department of Biomedical Informatics, Columbia University, and New York Academy of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, USA
  4. 4Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  5. 5Center for Computational Pharmacology, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA
  6. 6Division of Biomedical Informatics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  7. 7Departments of Pediatrics and of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  8. 8Departments of Medicine and of Biomedical Informatics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  9. 9Department of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  10. 10School of Nursing, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  11. 11School of Biomedical Informatics, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  12. 12Division of Education and Academic Affairs, American Medical Informatics Association, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jeffrey J Williamson, AMIA, 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 500, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA; jeff{at}
  1. Contributors The authors of this report are members of an Academic Forum committee charged with addressing the definition and core competencies for graduate education in biomedical informatics. JS chaired the committee. CK took the lead in writing the paper with ES contributing extensively as well. All authors reviewed, commented, and approved the content.

  • Received 20 April 2012
  • Accepted 3 May 2012
  • Published Online First 8 June 2012


The AMIA biomedical informatics (BMI) core competencies have been designed to support and guide graduate education in BMI, the core scientific discipline underlying the breadth of the field's research, practice, and education. The core definition of BMI adopted by AMIA specifies that BMI is ‘the interdisciplinary field that studies and pursues the effective uses of biomedical data, information, and knowledge for scientific inquiry, problem solving and decision making, motivated by efforts to improve human health.’ Application areas range from bioinformatics to clinical and public health informatics and span the spectrum from the molecular to population levels of health and biomedicine. The shared core informatics competencies of BMI draw on the practical experience of many specific informatics sub-disciplines. The AMIA BMI analysis highlights the central shared set of competencies that should guide curriculum design and that graduate students should be expected to master.


  • This paper was formally approved by the AMIA Board on April 17, 2012.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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