BLOG – Leveraging OHDSI Tools and Data

OHDSI presents a transformative opportunity for how we teach informatics.  I serve as the director of education for the Biomedical Informatics graduate training programmes at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and have incorporated OHDSI into our graduate training for the past three years.  Biomedical Informatics is an applied multidisciplinary field on the use of data and information technologies to improve healthcare.  OHDSI has the tools, data, and clinical scenarios to create the coursework for students.

The three types of courses you could create that fit in well within an informatics curriculum are 1) Working with ontologies through clinical terminologies 2) Understanding EHR data structures and data modeling with Structured Querying Language (SQL) and 3) Data Analysis of EHR data for data characterisation, patient level prediction, and population level estimation.

Hosting the applications of OHDSI provides a web-based data science platform in Atlas and HADES along with an integration environment with WebAPI.  Students can install the environment on their desktops with the docker container broadsea which includes the major components at  Synthetic OMOP datasets derived from NHANES health survey can be constructed and used for creating exercises at

As an open science community, OHDSI creates hundreds of resources in the public domain each year.  The community dashboard indexes publications from Pubmed, OHDSI videos uploaded to YouTube, and free online courses in the EHDEN Academy.  The EHDEN Academy, a Moodle-based learning management system with currently nineteen courses, is an excellent resource for formal training programmes with self-paced training assignments.

In addition to didactics, OHDSI has a vibrant community and structured activities that make for valuable professional network development and practicums.  Over ten Working groups meet each week online across time zones.  Working groups are not closed invitation only meetings, they are open and inclusive to new attendees.  There is an open weekly community call that reviews activities for the week.  Students can interact with these teams to identify current research and write reports on current topics.  There are annual in person conferences in North America, Asia, and in Europe where students can present posters and participate in tutorials and working groups.

There are formal mentoring opportunities in OHDSI for informatics’ students to understand how to work as part of a distributed team in software development.  The Kheiron open source engineering programme trains students in how to participate in the Git code versioning system and the Github issue and project management system.

There is a working group in OHDSI for educators to share notes and collaborate on developing training material.  The education working group is a good location to go if you are planning on creating coursework.  This group can help an educator find speakers to engage their students and help navigate the OHDSI community to identify effective mentors.  OHDSI is a collegial and welcoming community and an ideal location for our students to start building their careers.  Please reach out to me on the OHDSI Teams tenant if you would like to talk about incorporating OHDSI into your programme.

Paul Nagy, PhD, FSIIM

Deputy Director, JHM Technology Innovation Center

Director of Education, Biomedical Informatics and Data Science

Associate Professor of Radiology, Medicine, Health Policy, and Biomedical Engineering

Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Engineering