CHIP Students Win Penn Healthcare Case Competition

December 4, 2023

CHIP Master’s degree students Sanju Rajan and Shilpa Sundar, along with 4 other students from universities across the US, were part of a team that won the 2023 Penn Healthcare Consulting Case Competition. The

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="156"] Sanju Rajan[/caption]

Penn Healthcare Case Competition is a virtual event organized by Penn Biotech Group (PBG) and PennHealthX, two cross-disciplinary graduate and professional degree student organizations at the University of Pennsylvania for those interested in management/strategy consulting, venture capital in life sciences, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries. According to their website, their mission is to "highlight the talents and problem-solving strengths of students from top-tier graduate and professional degree programs, along with postdoctoral fellows, while also providing a platform for them to connect with other outstanding participants and highly accomplished judges from top-tier firms".  The winning CHIP team, dubbed the “Flu Fighters”, worked to solve a real world healthcare problem centered around Leveraging AI and ML for a small biotech company call Amicus Therapeutics.  The company wanted to understand how to best leverage AI and ML to support its growth and value. Some key business questions that the team had to answer included:

  • Who are their immediate competitors?
  • What are their immediate needs?
  • What are the strategic recommendations and next steps going forward?
  • What should the budget look like?

    [caption id="" align="alignright" width="166"] Shilpa Sundar[/caption]

  • What are the risks and challenges that they would face?
  • What are the internal capabilities that are required to support this change?

Shilpa SundarIn order to address these questions, the team created a benchmarking report outlining how pharma companies are deploying and partnering with AI/ML companies to support late-stage development and commercial growth including details on investments, partnerships, and structure of deals.  They developed a short- and long-term strategy for Amicus with recommendations for implementation of initiatives tailored around the budget.  They also outlined potential risks and barriers that should be considered and compiled a comprehensive internal capabilities report required to support the initiatives. Their strategic planning and solutions led to their first prize award.  The team members commented that "This achievement has not only added a significant milestone to our academic and professional journeys but also reinforced our passion for leveraging technology to make a positive impact in healthcare."

HISA and CHIP Collaborate to Offer Mentorship Program

December 1, 2023

[caption id="attachment_10897" align="alignright" width="237"] Ashley Victor, HISA President[/caption]

The Health Informatics Student Association (HISA) led by president and CHIP master's degree student, Ashley Victor, has collaborated with CHIP staff to offer mentoring and connections for incoming CHIP master’s students. Student mentors are current CHIP students paired with an incoming student to answer questions and offer advice prior to starting the program.  Victor and master's student Adishri Ashok Sapute worked collaboratively to pair interested incoming CHIP students with current students.  Erika Takeda, program coordinator for residential students, had the idea for such a program, but needed the HISA student organization to help make those connections.  Ashley indicated that she is "excited about the interest in the program" and hopes it will help students with their transition to UNC and the CHIP program.  Current CHIP mentors include Vidheesha Anandkumar Patel, Pamela Roxana Chacon Uscamaita, Adishri Ashok Sapute, and Tejaswini Velpuri.

HISA is a student led organization for health informatics students.  In addition to the mentorship program, the organization plans social events and other get togethers for the CHIP cohort. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or being part of the organization, please reach out to Ashley Victor at

Meet CHIP Alum Muhammad Osama Ali

December 1, 2023

Meet CHIP Alum Muhammad Osama Ali.  Muhammad graduated with his Master in Professional Science in Biomedical and Health Informatics in 2020. He is currently a Clinical Development Analyst at Applied Medical in California.  Learn more about Muhammad below.

Tell me a bit about your career/education story and what led you to pursue the MPS BMHI program with CHIP?

[caption id="attachment_10888" align="alignright" width="253"] Muhammad Osama Ali[/caption]

My bachelors degree in chemistry stemmed from my passion for science. It felt like the perfect combination that blended in elements of physics and biology. Learning about atoms and the human body naturally led me to develop an interest in healthcare. Initially starting off a path that would have led me to doing medicine, I wanted something different.   I have also been an avid fan of technology and wondered if there was a way to marry it with my growing interest in healthcare.

I started looking for opportunities that met this criteria and came across Health Informatics which explores the area of technology and healthcare. During my research for such programs, I came across the UNC MPS in BMHI as part of their CHIP department. Reading through the different course offerings, I realized I’d be able to gain the opportunity to dive into various subjects from business to coding to healthcare. Part of my decision process to attend UNC also was due to the fact that their program and internship opportunities looked well established and various schools at UNC ranked very highly. My time at the program was a great learning experience and I have been able to carry over many of the skills/qualities I gained.


What have you been up to since you graduated?

I have been working at Applied Medical, a medical device company as a Clinical Development Analyst. My job is essentially to act as a product manager where I help overlook the software we use to help Surgical residents train in laparoscopic surgery. Our goal is to develop effective surgical simulation and in doing so, improve patient outcomes.


What do you find most rewarding about your work?

Going back to my interest in healthcare and my motive to help others, my work provides me the same opportunity. I get to indirectly help patients that will be treated by better skilled surgeons. I am also always learning which has been a part of my educational career since the beginning.


What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Since my move to California I have been spending a fair time exploring the state. I’ve grown an interest in hiking and snowboarding. When I’m not out and about, I continue to catch up on all sorts of TV shows, movies as well as the occasional video gaming sessions.


Who inspires you?

My dad has always been an inspiration for me. Most of my organizational and management qualities come from what I learned from him. Seeing his dedication and hard work to bring our family to where it is now gives that motivational push to do things that I not only like but also will be for the better of others.


What advice would you give current CHIP students? 

I would say to not be afraid to try new things. You never know what could catch your interest. But most importantly do what you have a passion for.  I worked in a chemistry lab for 3 years and realized, while I loved learning new things, it wasn’t something I saw myself doing for a longer time. The CHIP department has many great contacts that can and will help you with all your needs from job insights to finding internships. Speaking from personal experience, I can vouch for the business courses that I had to take during the program. They have vastly helped me jumpstart my career in a professional industry and without knowing I sometimes use skills that I learned from those courses.  All in all, this program is a great way to get you into a growing industry that has a variety of opportunities and the skills learned can be applied to many instances.

Schopps Driven to Impact Clinician Burnout

November 2, 2023

Meet CHIP master's degree student Ashley Schopps!  In addition to focusing on obtaining her master's degree in Biomedical and Health Informatics through the online program, Ashley is leading a busy family life.  Her passion for learning more about healthcare systems and identifying areas for process improvement have spurred her commitment to her current internship project.  She is working as a student assistant with UNC School of Medicine, Radiation Oncology with Dr. Lukasz Mazur.  Her project is specifically focused on a systems analysis approach to identify causes influencing burnout among clinicians.  Read on to learn more about Ashley!

Why did you pursue an MPS BMHI program with CHIP?

I initially wanted to pursue this program to learn more about the intersection of technology and healthcare.  At the time, I was an analyst at a contract research organization, where I realized I was using a lot of technology, but I did not know how it worked, how it was produced, etc.  I wanted to dive deeper into the informatics side of things, and truly learn the "why" and "how" of systems we use in healthcare and research.

What are your research interests?

I am interested in the systems analysis side of user interface design. I truly enjoy the systems analysis process of learning about a system, where it is broken, and how to fix it.  I enjoy the challenge and problem solving involved in investigating user systems, particularly EHRs.

What are you doing for your internship? 

The purpose of my internship is to take a systems analysis approach to investigate factors influencing burnout among physicians and nurses. I have conducted contextual inquires, and we will conduct focus groups, compile summary statistics from data collected during the focus groups, create data models, and compose suggestions for those in leadership for the department based on the data to avoid healthcare worker burnout.

What do you find most rewarding about your internship?

I truly feel like this kind of research will make a positive difference for not only healthcare workers, but their patients and families.  I feel like I am contributing to solving a major problem that plagues the US healthcare system. We are bringing attention to a major problem that has been going unchecked for far too long.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to do work similar to my internship, to work in a setting where I can continue to research healthcare worker burnout and find ways to mitigate this issue.  It is an epidemic in the healthcare workforce and needs to be addressed.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

When I am not at work, I love playing outside with my family, swimming, and trying new restaurants with my husband.

Who inspires you?

The first thing that comes to mind is my children.  They truly inspire me to keep pushing to find ways to make a difference, to make their lives, and the lives of others, better.  I am also so inspired by the healthcare workers we have been working with on this project.  Seeing their dedication even after all the difficulties they face is truly inspiring.

What advice would you give incoming CHIP students?

Know your "why"! When things get hard, know why you started and who you are doing this for.  Chances are, you will face challenges during your time as a student, but don't let that deter you from achieving your goals and finishing strong.

2023 CHIP Faculty Retreat

November 2, 2023

[caption id="attachment_10855" align="alignright" width="257"] Dr. Saif Khairat, Associate Professor for UNC School of Nursing and Core CHIP faculty member, facilitates part of the 2023 CHIP retreat.[/caption]

On Tuesday, October 24, 2023 CHIP hosted a faculty retreat for core CHIP faculty, associated faculty, and staff. Several CHIP students also presented and engaged with the group, including the PhD student committee co-chairs Abhi Bhatia and Liz Kwong, as well as CHIP master's degree student Ashley Victor.  There was faculty representation from the School of Medicine, School of Public Health, Computer Science, Health Sciences Library, School of Dentistry, School of Nursing, and School of Information and Library Science.  Core topics of discussion included curriculum/education, research, funding, and student/faculty community.  A central theme of the retreat was the future identity of CHIP, it's mission, vision and renewed efforts to capitalize on collaborations and proximity of program partners.  It was a productive event that generated many ideas to continue to improve and grow the CHIP program.  Stay tuned for future efforts to further develop and implement suggestions and action items resulting from this meeting.