About the Fellowship

The Laboratory of Computer Science (LCS) directs a post-doctoral training program (fellowship) in medical informatics as part of the Harvard Informatics Research Training Program. The fellowship was formally established in the Boston area in 1986 with funding from the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Although there are several shared activities and seminars among the NLM fellowships in Boston, the individual fellow is directly associated with only one of the several laboratories, and spends almost all of his or her time in the individual institutional training program. The directors of the LCS fellowship program are Drs. Henry Chueh, and William Lester.

The fellowship lasts for a minimum of two years, and most fellows choose to remain for a third year, on mutual agreement between each individual fellow and the LCS. The training is a combination of required, degree-granting course work and an intensive apprenticeship experience in specifying and developing research projects.

Many alumni of the LCS fellowship now hold academic posts in hospitals and universities, while others have become Chief Information Officers (CIOs) or consultants.

Formal Course Work


Informatics has become a major theme and methodology for biomedical science, health care delivery, and public health. Biomedical informatics involves modeling and understanding the cognitive, information processing and communication tasks of biomedical science, medical practice, education and research. The field is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on traditional biomedical disciplines, the science and technology of computing, biostatistics, epidemiology, decision sciences, and health care policy and management. There is a common core of knowledge, skills, and experiences that all trainees need to have to equip them to engage meaningfully in the field.

Program Description

The Master in Medical Science in Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School is a two-year post-doctoral degree program. The MMSc in Biomedical Informatics consists of didactic course work, a seminar series, and a mentored research project. Our program is open to federally funded post-doctoral fellows at Harvard and its affiliated hospitals.

Each student chooses from one of four possible tracks:

A written thesis and an oral presentation and defense of the thesis is required.
For course requirements please see: http://informaticstraining.hms.harvard.edu/programs/mmsc-bioinformatics

Research Training

Each fellow works closely with the program directors in specifying a problem and designing a project.This usually occurs during the first two to four months of the training program.The only requirement is that the trainee's project be closely related to a project which is of interest to the laboratory, in an area where the laboratory has independent financial support.The fellow usually works with a team of computer scientists and other physicians in the LCS in undertaking the development of his or her research project. However, the fellow is expected to become proficient enough in computer programming to be able to carry out relatively independent project development.

The research training is similar to a graduate thesis in that the trainee is expected to have primary responsibility for the specification and execution of a project, to write up the research, to present it at national meetings, and to prepare manuscripts for publication.The expectation for individuals who go through this training program is that they will continue in academic medicine (with a strong focus on medical informatics) and will spend a significant portion of their professional careers in the development and support of computer-based applications in medical care, education, and research.

Clinical Work

Fellows who have completed residency may take advantage of the opportunity to moonlight in the Massachusetts General Hospital Medical Walk-In Unit (MWIU). In the MWIU, adults requiring urgent care are seen on a first-come, first-served basis without needing an appointment.


Stipends are available for United States citizens and permanent residents through support by the National Library of Medicine. Tuition and fees, health insurance, and travel expenses are provided for supported fellows. Other individuals who are not US citizens or permanent residents may be considered for fellowship status under special circumstances, but must have their own external sources of financial support.