MEBI 531: Frequently asked questions

What is it?

Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics 531 is about the design of biomedical software, with particular attention to the requirements of life critical applications, and the complexity of biomedical problems.

Who should take it?

This course is intended primarily for graduate students in biomedical and health informatics, but is open to graduate students in computer science, and the biomedical basic sciences.

It is also suitable for medical students or advanced undergraduates interested in a career in biomedical informatics, graduate students in public health, other health fields, bioengineering, library science, or anyone who may be working on research and development projects involving computing in medicine or health sciences more broadly. Postdoctoral fellows in areas related to biomedical informatics would also find it useful. Faculty and staff in the health sciences who wish to attend for professional interest and development are welcome.

Why Lisp instead of C++ or java?

Lisp provides an easy way to teach and implement abstract ideas. It also provides an interactive environment in which it is easy to experiment with your ideas and code. The course is not a programming course, but focuses on the solution of biomedical computing problems, using a programming language to provide a precise expression of the problem and its solution.

Lisp is easy to learn. It has been around a long time and is used in introductory courses in programming at other places, e.g., MIT, Carnegie-Mellon University, University of California, Berkeley, and a number of small college computer science programs.

Will I learn how to use bioinformatics software and web tools?

No. This is covered in MEBI 536, Bioinformatics and Gene Sequence Analysis.

Why is this a MEBI course?

It was developed for the Biomedical and Health Informatics graduate program, housed in the Department of Medical Education and Biomedical Informatics, but is open to students outside the program as well.

Examples and homework assignments are chosen from biomedical applications as much as possible. These include medical image processing, biomedical data, anatomy, and bioinformatics, to name a few.