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University of Michigan School of Information


Faces of UMSI: Ambar Amoros-Gomez

A photo of Ambar Amoros-Gomez standing on the Diag wearing a U-M sweatshirt, with a hammock visible in the background

Ambar Amoros-Gomez first learned about the field of health informatics when she received an email from the University of Michigan School of Information in the winter of 2022, announcing the creation of the UMSI Graduate Guarantee. As a biomedical engineering major at U-M, she was already passionate about health care and technology. 

“Health informatics is something that very much interested me, because it allowed me to incorporate my undergraduate degree,” she recalls. “But it also allowed me to do what I wanted to do, which was analyze data.” 

Amoros-Gomez had planned to get a job directly after graduation. Instead, after learning about the UMSI Graduate Guarantee, she applied to the MHI program and was accepted.

Ambar standing on a sidewalk on the diag
Ambar Amoros-Gomez believes the health care system should be patient centered.

In her first semester, she took SI 542: Introduction to Health Informatics with clinical assistant professor of information Allen Flynn. “I got introduced to all these different things that I'm also passionate about, from electronic health records to consumer health informatics, that I didn't think could actually be a career field,” she says. 

For their final project in Flynn’s class, her group drew upon existing research in pharmacogenomics to develop a code that can use a patient’s genomic sequence to determine which antidepressant would be most effective for them. 

“So it's tailored to the person,” she says. “And this is something that could be implemented in an actual hospital. I really liked that class because it had an emphasis on what happens if the health care system is patient centered.”

Her cohort, which she describes as “very close,” is preparing to enter a field that has the power to reduce disparities in health care and improve patient outcomes. In their courses, they explore complex and weighty issues. She says they also have a lot of fun together. 

Amoros-Gomez isn’t yet sure which area of health informatics she wants to specialize in, but the notion of centering patients is the audible heartbeat of her studies. Recently, she has been exploring her concern for medical racism and medical research gaps related to race, ethnicity and gender. 

She gives the example of a study she has talked about with Flynn, which found that when Black and Hispanic patients with COVID-19 went to the hospital, they received inaccurately high readings of their blood oxygen levels on pulse oximeters. Patients who would have been eligible for treatment with remdesivir and dexamethasone were told they didn’t meet the criteria.

“Pulse oximeters sometimes struggle to accurately read darker skin tones due to differences in light absorption and reflection,” Amoros-Gomez explains. “If these medical devices were inclusive, would there have been fewer deaths from COVID-19 in the Black and Latinx communities?”

The impact she hopes to have over the course of her career is “making sure that people of color are getting the treatment that they deserve.” With Flynn’s encouragement, she is thinking about pursuing a PhD and further exploring overlooked issues in the health care system. 

“I feel like, in undergrad, the biggest goal for everyone is just to graduate and get a job. But in graduate school, you’re like, ‘OK, so what do I truly want? And how do I want to live my life?’” she says. “I’m now able to start thinking about those questions, knowing that with the Grad Guarantee I have the time, the support and the resources allowing me to do that.”

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