Posted: 9/07/22

TAMIU, UTHealth Houston Partnership Expands Public Health Study Opportunities Here



Public Health study opportunities at Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) have expanded thanks to an innovative partnership with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Biomedical Informatics (UTHealth Houston SBMI).

The partnership is focused on the delivery of the Development of Informatics Accelerated Learning in Laredo (DIALL) program and was announced in a press conference Wednesday at TAMIU’s Student Center.

DIALL provides TAMIU students the opportunity to complete a 4+1 graduate certificate and accelerated Master’s program with UTHealth Houston. At completion, students graduate with a Bachelor's degree from TAMIU and a graduate certificate from UTHealth Houston.  The program is housed in TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. 

Joining TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz in sharing news about the program were Dr. Susan  Fenton, UTHealth Houston SBMI  associate professor and associate dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs; Dr. Jeanette Broshears, program manager; Dr. Marivic Torregosa, dean, College of  Nursing and Health Sciences; TAMIU assistant professor of Public Health Dr. Cindy Lynn Salazar-Collier, and members of the first student cohort formed this Fall. 

“We’re excited to partner with UTHealth Houston to bring this program to our students, community, and region.  The past three years of the shared COVID-19 Pandemic experience have served to underscore the importance of public health.  This program, which harnesses the power of information to help find solutions, is a worthy addition to our growing Public Health opportunities here and has impressive career opportunities for graduates,” Dr. Arenaz said.

UTHealth Houston’s Dr. Susan Fenton concurred.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic emphasized the importance of data and information in public health, as well as having trained professionals from a variety of backgrounds.  The collaboration with TAMIU supports the health of the greater Laredo community and we are excited to be a part of it,” Dr. Fenton said. 

Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dr. Marivic Torregosa said she believes the DIALL program has the potential to attract TAMIU students across disciplines.

“While there is a clear affinity for STEM majors, there are adjacent fields like business, computer science, and systems engineering that will find this opportunity attractive,” Dr. Torregosa explained.

Biomedical Informatics is a dynamic field with rich employment opportunities, organizers observed.

“It’s a growing field that optimizes the use of information in healthcare with employment opportunities in pharmacies, hospitals, insurance companies, and more. The 4+1 program graduates have the opportunity to continue their coursework with UTHealth Houston SBMI and earn their master’s in Biomedical Informatics in just one year,” TAMIU’s Dr. Collier noted. 

Student members of the first Fall 2022 Cohort and their respective majors include:

Javier Dominguez, Public Health; Kristina Escamilla, Public Health; Jaden Gray, Biology;Citlali Gutierrez, Biology; Brenda Martinez, Public Health; Vanessa Plascencia, Biology;Wilbert Nicolas, Systems Engineering, and Ana Ramos, Biology. 

The School of Biomedical Informatics is one of six schools within UTHealth Houston, and the only academic Biomedical Informatics program in Texas. It’s also the only free-standing school among 70 related programs in the nation, and one of the largest globally.

This past summer, DIALL offered a STEM Immersion Experience focused on how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and adjacent fields like business can integrate into the field of Biomedical Informatics.  It was funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Accelerated Credentials of Purpose and Value Grant Program. 

For more information on the D.I.A.L.L. Program, visit https://www.tamiu.edu/4plus1/?utm_source=go.tamiu.edu&utm_medium=4plus1 

TAMIU’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences is also home to a dynamic Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health (BSPS), which has quadrupled enrollment since its launch in the Fall of 2020.  To find out more, email Dr. Collier at cindy.collier@tamiu.edu,or phone 956.326.3279. 

In addition to Public Health, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences undergraduate programs include Communication Disorders, Kinesiology, and Nursing.  Graduate programs include Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Nursing Administration.  Certificate and Enrichment Programs are also available and can be explored at https://www.tamiu.edu/conhs/index.shtml

Group Shot UTHealth Houston9.22

At center, Dr. Susan Fenton, UTHealth Houston SBMI associate professor and associate dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs, joins TAMIU President Dr. Pablo Arenaz  and TAMIU leadership, faculty and students to share news of the expanded public health opportunities available at TAMIU through partnerships with UTHealth Houston. Left to right Dr. Mahmoud T. Khasawneh, director, School of Engineering; Dr. Tom Mitchell, Provost; Dr. Geoffrey Hubona, associate professor. A. R.  Sanchez, Jr.  School of Business; Dr. Fenton and Dr. Arenaz; Dr. John Kilburn, associate vice president, Research and Sponsored Projects; Dr. Cindy Lynn Salazar-Collier, assistant professor of Public Health, and Erika M. Cavazos-Juarez, UTHealth Houston doctoral student.