Methods Inf Med 2006; 45(06): 671-680
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1634133
Original Article
Schattauer GmbH

The Young Person’s Guide to Biomedical Informatics [*] [+]

J. H. van Bemmel
1   Institute of Medical Informatics, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
08 February 2018 (online)


Objective: To draw a parallel between the challenges by which a research department in biomedical informatics is confronted and those of a symphony orchestra; in both areas different disciplines and various groups of instruments can be discerned.

Method: Retrospective, personal review of how to conduct biomedical research.

Results: The importance of mastering one’s instrument and the harmony between the team members is stressed. The conductor has to motivate all players so that they can have a successful career. Competition between orchestras and performance assessments determine survival and success. A record of refereed publications is crucial for continued existence.

Conclusions: Biomedical informatics is typically multidisciplinary. Hypotheses underlying research should be carefully formulated. The time from research to application may easily take 20 years or more. Mutual trust and knowing each other’s competences is essential for success. A good leader gives enough room to all team members to develop their careers. The outcomes of assessment studies are directly related to the quality of publications.

* The title of this paper is inspired by Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell.

+ Written version of a keynote lecture, the author gave on August 28, 2006 at the 20th International Congress of the European Federation of Medical Informatics (MIE 2006) in Maastricht, the Netherlands. In a slightly different version, this paper was also published in the Conference Proceedings of MIE 2006.

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