Biomedical Informatics

The Biomedical Informatics Research Center (BIRC) develops cutting-edge ways to acquire, represent and process information about human health. Students interested in informatics will find a summer with BIRC to be a rewarding and exciting experience. 

For summer 2017, bioinformatics internship positions may be available in the following area:

  • Big data drug indications analysis. The intern will combine different natural language processing (NLP) and big data machine learning strategies to assess the feasibility of using large-scale biomedical literature to extract potential drug indications. This research project lays the computational foundations for advanced drug treatments using scientific articles.  Potential research tasks include:
    - Designing and developing intelligent methods/frameworks to extract potential drug indications using abstracts and full-text scientific articles published in PubMed.
    - Developing machine learning and NLP strategies to classify extracted information into different categories including the drug indication category.
    - Adapting the developed framework on big data infrastructures (e.g., Elasticsearch, Apache Spark, Apache Spark MLlib) 

This position is suited for graduate students with a background in computer science, biomedical informatics and/or data science.

    • Machine learning and data visualization within The intern will develop computational applications for implementing machine learning algorithms to help cluster, classify, prioritize and visualize agricultural injury and fatality incidents. Ultimately, the application will be deployed to screen news feeds daily, improving data quality, efficiency, and lowering costs. Potential research tasks include:
      - Preparing data sets for our prediction algorithms
      - Building, validating, and refining prediction model(s) to identify articles with the most relevant agriculture related injuries
      - Developing a data visualization application to provide easy and direct ways to visualize and summarize the large amount of data for investigators to understand incidents

    Graduate students with a background in computer science, biomedical informatics and/or data science are preferred, but undergraduate students with coursework in programming and basic statistics and mathematics are welcome to apply.

    Clinical/Laboratory Research

    Students interested in Clinical/Laboratory Research typically work on projects that explore relationships or association between the cause of disease and current medical practice with the goal to enhance a better understanding of a disease or disorder. Students that apply to this program should have at least two years of undergraduate training in biology or microbiology, interest in infectious diseases/tick-borne diseases, ability to conduct chart review, and some laboratory experience.

    Cultural/Medical Anthropology

    Cultural anthropology is a core unit of study in the National Farm Medicine Center. Rural, agricultural communities pose a variety of health risks and benefits. The primary focus of the anthropological projects is to explore methods to sculpt rural health and injury prevention messages into culturally resonant concepts and to enlist trusted allies to assist in message development and delivery. Applicants should be particularly interested in conducting fieldwork, recruiting study subjects, conducting literature reviews, culminating in learning to apply ethnographic methods and social theory to issues facing rural, agricultural communities. Social theories of risk, labor, and medicine are particularly relevant to the cultural anthropology core unit. Students interested in applied, cultural, and medical anthropology are welcome to apply. Preference will be given to graduate students in anthropology or students with rural psychology or social epidemiology training.

    For summer 2017, anthropology internship positions may be available in the following area:

    • Building the base of a 5 year social network analysis project meant to deliver farm safety knowledge to farmers through rural firefighters, utilizing fire and EMS training at community colleges, fire institutes, and fire association training conferences.
    • Inquiring into the unique experience of subjects and research team members in the Wisconsin Infant Study Cohort, a microbiome and immunology study exploring the benefits for children as they are in utero, born and then raised on farms.
    • Investigating the young and new farmer movement across the nation, specifically focusing on their attitudes towards children on the farm as they are at high risk for injury.
    • Exploring the veteran-to-farmer movement to explore veteran’s motivations and expectations as they turn to agriculture as their post-military career.

    Students that apply to the anthropology program should be currently enrolled in a master’s program that includes cultural and/or medical foci, have taken at least one course in ethnography, field methods, qualitative methods, or social network analysis. Applicants must also have excellent written and verbal communication skills.


    The epidemiology program targets students currently enrolled in a master’s program in a health-related field. Students in the epidemiology program will work with a research scientist on an epidemiology project that may involve conducting scientific literature reviews, assisting with study design, analyzing data, and preparing a manuscript. In addition to the independent project, students will have the opportunity to be involved with other epidemiology projects including studies in the US Flu Network, Vaccine Safety Datalink, Marshfield Epidemiologic Study Area, and the Health Care Systems Research Network. In many cases, the summer research project can serve as the capstone project or thesis if required for their master's degree program. For more information on researchers and current studies, please visit the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health website.

    For summer 2017, epidemiology internship positions may be available in the following area:

    • Identifying predictors of successful weight loss among adult patients exposed to clinic-based intensive behavior therapy.

    Students that apply to the epidemiology program should be currently enrolled in a master's program in a health related field (e.g. MPH), have taken at least one course in epidemiology and one course in biostatistics, have prior experience with statistical software, and have excellent written and verbal communication skills. Students will use SAS statistical software for data analysis.


    Research Interns The Center for Human Genetics (CHG) conducts research on the structure and function of the human genome. CHG is home to cutting edge molecular technologies and Marshfield Clinic’s Personalized Medicine Research Project (PMRP), which is a biobank of plasma, serum, and DNA specimens from 20,000 Marshfield Clinic patients. Unique to PMRP is all patient samples are linked to Marshfield Clinic’s extensive electronic medical record system, providing CHG scientists an invaluable resource to study thousands of diseases.  For more information on researchers and current studies, please visit the CHG website.

    For summer 2017, genetics internship positions may be available in the following area:

    • Conducting phenome-wide association studies (PheWAS) directed towards breast cancer susceptibility genes and those genes that are targeted by current breast cancer therapeutics. This project is a multi-disciplinary study that combines genetics, medical informatics, statistical genetics, and medicine with the goal of advancing patient care. The summer intern on this project will have the opportunity to gain experience in human genetics, have an opportunity to learn state-of-the-art laboratory techniques, and be exposed to high throughput data analyses. Although prior knowledge in genetics and standard laboratory techniques would be helpful, this is not required. The student should be highly motivated with an ability to pay close attention to detail.

    • Conducting translational research studies to identify associations between genetic variants within the gene SLC5A2 and glycosuria. The intern will DNA sequence SLC5A2 on all Personalized Medicine Research Project (PMRP) participants that have positive glucose urine tests to identify additional variants that may be contributing to glycosuria, and conduct functional studies on any previous or newly identified variants. Techniques that will be employed include, but are not limited to the following: site-directed mutagenesis, transfections, cell culture, glucose transporter assays, real-time PCR, and western blotting. This position is suited for undergraduate or graduate level students who are interested in gaining mentored research experience in a genetics laboratory. Familiarity with genetics or biochemistry research may be helpful, but is not necessary.

    • Investigating the role of host susceptibility genes associated with diseases caused by several bacterial pathogens. Potentially both genome wide association study and target gene (exome sequencing) could be implemented. This project will be multidisciplinary in nature and interns will have the opportunity to gain experience in genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and laboratory techniques. Interested applicants should have laboratory experience dealing with molecular biology experiments, and be a hard-working, motivated individual.

    • Investigating the role of gut microbes in chronic fatigue syndrome and/or the role of the oral microbiome in periodontal disease in an effort to understand the role of microbes in chronic diseases. Both graduate and undergraduate students with backgrounds in bioinformatics and microbiology will be considered. Student should have some laboratory experience. Students with programming skills will be preferred as a significant portion of the project involves data analysis.

    Interactive Clinical Design Institute

    The Interactive Clinical Design Institute (ICDI) focuses on developing healthcare technology that is truly intuitive to use, minimizes medical errors and improves care. Studies conducted within ICDI identify user research insights to create user experiences that are efficient, satisfying and safe. ICDI also contains the Interaction Lab, a state-of-the-art usability laboratory, where researchers observe, record, and analyze people interacting with healthcare computer hardware, software and Internet resources. Interns interested in ICDI may work on research projects in the areas of cognitive and behavioral analysis, interface design, usability testing, evaluation and baseline measures. Undergraduate students with a background or interest in the following areas are encouraged to apply: user experience human computer interaction, information architecture, computer science, health informatics, cognitive science, human factors and psychology.

    Oral and Systemic Health

    The mission of the Institute for Oral and Systemic Health (IOSH) is to lead and pave the future of integrating medical-dental care delivery, oral-systemic research, inter-professional education and practice management through the application of health informatics and information technology and applied, preventive and basic sciences to ultimately improve the patient healthcare experience, quality of patient care and lower per capita healthcare cost.

    Within IOSH, there are 4 research cores where internships may be available:

    • Oral Health Informatics:  Dental Informatics is a specialized area of Clinical Informatics that studies and pursues the effective uses of biomedical data, information and knowledge for scientific inquiry, problem solving and decision making, by applying multiple disciplines like information science, information technology, computer science, telecommunication, biomedical engineering and cognitive science to support and improve dental and craniofacial care, research, education and management.  For current projects, click here.
    • Dental Public Health:  Dental public health is focused on evaluating oral health and healthcare needs of populations.  It provides leadership and expertise in population-based dentistry, oral health surveillance, policy development, and community-level disease prevention and treatment.  For current projects, click here.
    • Oral Biology:  Oral biology is focused on oral biology domain which encompasses research related to structure, development, and function of oral cavity constituents, and their local and systemic interactions in the context of health and disease.  Oral biology research broadly intersects other research domains including molecular biology genetics, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, biophysics, craniofacial biology, and developmental research.  Oral biology research approaches intersect both the basic and clinical research arenas.  For current projects, click here.
    • Dental Clinical:  Clinical research broadly encompasses:  definition of factors contributing to human disease; definition of therapeutic approaches; conduct of clinical trials of interventions involving agents, devices, practices or healthcare delivery models; development of new, clinically-applicable technologies; epidemiological definition of disease distribution; definition of factors impacting health, analysis of health decision-making in a societal context including an emphasis on patient-centered research; and comparative effectiveness research centered around definition of best practices, interventions and healthcare service delivery models.  For current projects, click here.

    Interns within IOSH will also have opportunities to shadow dental and medical providers at health care facilities affiliated with Marshfield Clinic as well as lead an Oral and Systemic Health Journal Club discussion and Health Innovation Chat. Undergraduate and graduate students who are engaged in the following areas are strongly encouraged to apply for this program:  dentistry/pre-dental, dental education, medicine/pre-medical, computer science, information technology, biomedical informatics, public health/epidemiology, oral biology/microbiology, and similar fields.