UNC and United Health Foundation launch partnership to train and diversify next generation of health data experts

January 23, 2018

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 Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP).

NC Governor Roy Cooper at podium.
SILS Dean Gary Marchionini and UNC Chancellor Carol Folt listen to NC
Governor Roy Cooper praise the potential of Project ENABLE.

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.”

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.”

Carol Folt shakes hands with Javed Mostafa
Chancellor Folt, Dean Marchionini, and UnitedHealth CEO Dave Wichmann
congratulate CHIP Director and UNC Professor Javed Mostafa.

“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.”

A truly interdisciplinary program, CHIP draws faculty and expertise from the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), UNC School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Pubic Health, UNC School of Nursing, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC School of Dentistry, and Computer Science Department. CHIP also benefits from close partnerships with several area health care organizations and Research Triangle Park-based companies specializing in biopharmaceuticals, heath care, IT, and analytics.

At the announcement of the grant on Jan. 23, SILS Dean Gary Marchionini thanked the United Health Foundation and CHIP Director and UNC Professor Javed Mostafa, who helped nurture the partnership from its earliest stages.