UNC-Chapel Hill and United Health Foundation Launch New $1.6 Million Partnership to Help Train and Diversify Next Generation of Health Data Experts

January 23, 2018
  • Training will take place through “Project ENABLE” – Extensible Network-Accessible Biomedical & Health Informatics Lifelong Learning Environment

  • Program expands access to training programs for minority undergraduate students from local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

  • Funding supports the launch of online and classroom interdisciplinary training through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Health Informatics Program

To help address the growing need for a larger and more diverse workforce of health care data analysts, technologists and experts, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and United Health Foundation are expanding access to health care data and informatics educational and professional development resources through the University’s Carolina Health Informatics Program.

A three-year, $1.6 million grant from United Health Foundation to UNC-Chapel Hill will create “Project ENABLE,” the Extensible Network-Accessible Biomedical & Health Informatics Lifelong Learning Environment. The initiative will deliver high-quality biomedical and health informatics training – both online and in person – to people who currently lack access to training. It will focus on minority undergraduate students considering health informatics careers, as well as working professionals needing to advance their health informatics skills.

“Our university is committed to tackling tough problems and training the next generation of diverse leaders,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We are grateful for United Health Foundation’s support and partnership to expand educational and training resources in the health care technology and analytics field. This partnership means more students, especially minority students, from across our state, will have the opportunity to tackle the tough challenges in our health care system.”

This workforce development effort will support the nation’s growing need for health informatics experts, as more health care services rely on electronic records and incorporate patient and population data into decision making. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences shows that while underrepresented minority groups comprised 28.5 percent of the national population, they represent just 9.1 percent of college-educated Americans in science and engineering occupations. This new initiative will address both of these challenges.

Funding Supports Boot Camp for Minority Students, New Online Master’s Degree Program

The grant will support three specific programmatic activities within Project ENABLE:

  • Creation of in-person summer boot camps for minority undergraduate students from local HBCUs to expose students to health informatics principles and encourage them to explore advanced training and health informatics careers. The first boot camp is scheduled to begin this summer.
  • Development of new health informatics online course content, based upon the boot camps, that introduces health informatics to a cross-section of students and working professionals.
  • Creation of a new online master’s degree to help working professionals develop expertise in health informatics, with a focus on data analytics, visualizations, statistics and database systems.

“I thank United Health Foundation for partnering with UNC-Chapel Hill and the Carolina Health Informatics Program to help expand access to the types of training and programs our states’ workers need to learn new skills and expertise in health care technology,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “This is especially important for students enrolled in historically black colleges and universities who will see expanded training and educational opportunities because of this partnership.”

“We are grateful to partner with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to help create a 21st century health workforce ready to meet the health care needs of North Carolina, and the nation,” said UnitedHealth Group CEO David S. Wichmann. “Investing in people’s skills and their education is critical in maximizing innovation in health care that will help people live healthier lives and help the health care system work better for everyone.”

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 111 master’s, 65 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 322,000 alumni live in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 165 countries. More than 175,000 live in North Carolina.

About United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health Foundation has committed nearly $315 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at or follow