I recently had to summarize my experience in the masters program here at Stanford, so I decided to take this opportunity to describe it here on the blog as well.
Looking back on the past year and a half as a Master’s degree student in Biomedical Informatics, I can unequivocally say that this is the most fun I’ve ever had in school. It definitely speaks to the quality of the faculty that I even enjoyed classes in my weaker areas.
I don’t have first hand experience with the programs at other institutions, so I am not the best person to comment on their relative strong and weak points. However, I can talk about what I think are the advantages of Stanford.
1. The breadth and depth of expertise.
This applies to both the faculty and the students. Whatever field your passion is in, I’m sure you can find some way to satisfy it here at Stanford. You can work with the leading experts in various branches of statistics and machine learning, collaborate with world-class biologists and engineers, and work on class projects with some of the smartest people you’ve ever met. Someone I know once said that his goal was to always be the stupidest person in the room :). You may not accomplish that, but you will have a hard time being the smartest.
2. ‘Technical virtuosity’
Our program chair is very fond of this term. At Stanford, you will become proficient/ knowledgeable in all of the main areas of biomedical informatics, broadly defined to be computer science, statistics, and biomedical domain expertise. Practically this means that at some point in your education you could work as an intern programming for Facebook, you can write the code to perform GWAS and expression profile analyses or various machine learning algorithms, understand what you are doing and the pitfalls involved, and finally apply those skills to research problems in biomedicine. I don’t think this is true of all the other programs. Specifically, some seem to have a lower bar for MDs.
3. The CLIMATE.
The first several months here, I was frequently reminded of the slogan ‘Happy cows come from California’. All my life I’ve thought that climate is no big deal, etc. Well now I’m addicted to California weather.
I hope this post is helpful to anybody who is interested in pursuing this career path. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.