What Fellows Do

Public health informatics is the systematic application of knowledge about systems that capture, manage, analyze and use information to improve population-level health outcomes.

PHIFP is a 2-year, competency-based training program in public health informatics. Fellows are placed in assignments at centers, institutes, and offices (CIO’s) across CDC as well as at other federal, state, and local public health departments where they engage in experiential training to enhance the agency’s informatics workforce.

The following list includes routine tasks for PHIFP fellows:

  • Working with teams involved in research and development of public health information systems.
  • Conducting informatics evaluations on complex public health information systems.
  • Contributing to CDC’s emergency response activities.
  • Providing technical assistance to state and local health departments and international public health agencies through short-term assignments, or Info-Aids.

PHIFP aims to provide robust informatics capacity primarily to CDC, but also to other public health organizations. This fellowship:

  • Provides extensive training and experience preparing professionals to solve cutting-edge public health issue using computer science, data science, and information technology.
  • Ensures that fellows experience a training curriculum that consists of 90% on-the job training and 10% coursework in informatics, data science, and public health.
  • Allows fellows to improve the implementation of information systems and conduct informatics evaluation.

Learn how informaticians are like translators in this video by the Public Health Informatics Institute.

Fellows will work, collaboratively, in a team environment in which they will be mentored by public health, informatics, and data science subject matter experts (SMEs).


In preparation for the real-world assignments and activities, fellows will be required to attend an orientation that provides background information about CDC, public health, and the role of informatics within the public health system.

Required Activities

PHIFP Fellows learn through a combination of on-the-job training and coursework. As part of their requirements, PHIFP Fellows:

  • Work on Public Health Informatics Projects within the assigned Host Sites (Center Projects).
  • Provides short-term technical assistance to federal, international, and non-profit agencies as well as state, local, and territorial health departments through special requests (Info-Aids).
  • Develop, manage, and evaluate complete information system (Capstone Projects).

First year PHIFP fellows are automatically enrolled in the Data Science Upskilling (DSU) program and will have access to:

  • Massive open online course (MOOC) licenses
  • Three intensive week-long bootcamps
    • Bootcamps are 1 week-long and cover a variety of topics such as computational literacy, analytics and statistical literacy, machine learning, data visualization, and systems interoperability.
  • DSU Fridays (Bi-weekly skill building sessions)
    • DSU Fridays are 2 hour long sessions designed to build skills in areas such as data visualization frameworks, Git and Github, building an interactive Python dashboard and app, Jupyter Notebooks, as well as R and Rshiny.

Data Science Literacy Domains:

  • Computational
  • Statistical
  • Machine Learning
  • Visualization
  • Ethical Use of Data

Reach out to dsu@cdc.gov for more information.