New Program Prepares Students for Careers in Health Data Science

November 05, 2018
students health data science

A new Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and United Health Foundation grant partnership will expand access to health informatics educational opportunities and applied health data science research experiences through the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Application (IDEA).

The Rensselaer-United Health Foundation partnership aims to address the growing need for a larger workforce of health data analysts and technologists. A three-year, $1.1 million grant from the United Health Foundation will help launch the "Rensselaer Health Informatics Challenges in Technology Education (INCITE) Pipeline" to prepare students for careers in health data science through several interrelated initiatives, including:

  • enhancing curricula to make health informatics more accessible to  students from an array of majors such as biology and mathematics;
  • creating a new "synthetic data generator" to expose students to real-world health data challenges and test solutions; and
  • promoting experiential learning through online challenges available to students at Rensselaer and around the world.

The partnership will expand opportunities for researchers and students to tackle health care system challenges through the integration of human intelligence with machine intelligence.

"The United Health Foundation is honored to partner with Rensselaer to help create a 21st century health care workforce ready to meet the health needs of the nation and the world," said Dr. Paul Bleicher, a Rensselaer alumnus and CEO of OptumLabs, a UnitedHealth Group company. "Investing in tomorrow's health care data scientists is vital to helping solve some of the health system's toughest challenges and creating the actionable insights we need for better care quality and health outcomes."

The partnership will yield a larger pipeline of students pursuing data science careers in health care, and novel teaching methods that improve undergraduate health informatics education at Rensselaer and beyond.