The Accelerating Excellence In Translational Science (AXIS)Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Medical Geographic Information Systems

Department Summary:

The Charles Drew Medical Geographic Information Systems (CDU MedGIS) Laboratory provides a virtual center for the storage, management, analysis, modeling and mapping of spatially referenced, health related data using state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems technology. The MedGIS laboratory was established to support the integration of Geographic Information Science (GISC) theories and methods within biomedical research. The establishment of a medical GIS laboratory at Charles Drew University builds upon ongoing research activities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) -supported Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Biomedical Research Center and constitutes an integral component of a rapidly expanding university research informatics infrastructure.

1.What kind of services do you provide for researchers?
We are a full service Geospatial Analysis lab. Our mission is to conduct research, provide education and offer GIS-related services in the context of community engagement and empowerment, and to provide health professionals with spatially integrated tools in order to promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion, and transform the health of underserved communities. We provide a wide range of geographic services, including field data collection, GPS and remotely-sensed imagery acquisition and processing, geo-coding, spatial analysis, geo-database consulting, server-based GIS, web Geoportal, large format maps (wall maps) and much more. Basically if it is something geo-spatial in nature or form, we can provide the researcher with what they need.

2.Describe a typical interaction with a researcher.
A primary goal of the center is to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration by linking the computing facilities, spatial databases and the resident expertise at the CDMGIS laboratory with other research and teaching activities occurring at Charles Drew University , UCLA and other RCMI institutions. Additionally, collaborations are actively sought with community-based organizations, local health and services organizations, government agencies and academic campuses and institutes across the nation.

Typically, a researcher will approach a member GIS lab staff with a question. The researcher will have a discussion or meeting regarding a specific project or service. Depending on the level of services, we will work out an arrangement for the services to be provided. For example a researcher may have a sample of patient outcomes (e.g. diagnoses, lab values) and may have noticed some population trends in those outcomes. That researcher might also want to see how these patient outcomes are positioned on a map, by zip code of residence, for example. We would then begin working with that investigator to properly visualize the spatial characteristics of the disease in question and to help them link to external data sources (localized social and environmental information). Often casual conversations between geographers and biomedical researchers can lead to sophisticated research projects that are competitive for federal or private funding for grants, so make sure you take the opportunity to make an appointment to talk to the CDMGIS staff about your research.

3.Tell us one thing researchers might not know about your office.
Many folks might not know that the GIS lab is directly involved in clinical translational research in conjunction with the AXIS center for Biomedical Informatics. We have several ongoing projects that are funded by various NIH agencies. For example, we are currently working on projects funded by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) , including one about ‘Neighborhood Structure and Cardiovascular Disease’ and another about ‘Environmental Determinants of Metabolic Syndrome Related Behaviors and Conditions’. In these efforts, we are researching the relationships between where a person lives and works, and their behaviors and health outcomes for chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and related disorders.

Additionally we provide support for a network of NIH researchers via the AXIS Translational Center for Biomedical Informatics. In this capacity we are actively working to translate our finding into interventions that benefit our target populations.

4.What are your plans to improve research services in the future?
We are strengthening the GIS lab’s research infrastructure by starting a new GIS and Public Health certificate in the College of Science and Health (COSH) Masters of Urban Public Health (MUPH) program. This program will not only provide additional funding for research support, but will also bring new graduate level GIS students into the equation. Good students and more dollars for research will translate into better services for our collaborators and research clientele.

5.What’s the best way for researchers to reach you?
Email or phone.

The Research Resource Spotlight series focuses on the offices and departments at CDU that are available to help researchers enhance their productivity and excel at translational research. It is produced by AXIS (Accelerating Excellence in Translational Science) which is funded by NIH-NIMHD grant #U54MD007598 (formerly #U54RR026138).

Medical GIS Laboratory

2594 Industry Way Lynwood, CA 90262





Sunday, July 01, 2012

      Paul Robinson, Ph.D.
(323) 568-3363

      Cambria Broadway
Research Analyst

      Daniel Ryan
GIS Analyst

      Senait Teklehaimanot
(310)- 761-4702

      Ramarao Ilapakurthi
Senior Network Analyst

[The] interaction between geographers and biomedical researchers often leads to more sophisticated research projects that are competitive for federal or private funding for grants that initially started out as a casual conversation.

GIS Director Dr. Paul Robinson and Senior Network Analyst Ramarao Ilapakurthi work on a GIS project.