Is biomedical informatics a science or a profession? This question has been asked of many members in the biomedical informatics community, yet we still lack a response that galvanizes our community. We debate the issues over lunch. We create long, multi-threaded e-mail discussions, we write papers on the topic, and still we aren't able to convince ourselves-let alone the rest of the scientific community. In this paper, I will describe a curriculum model for biomedical informatics and research that is developing at Columbia University, Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI). We believe that a strong educational foundation creates competent professionals who, in turn, comprise a bioinformatics culture. The outcome of DBMI's curriculum design and competency project will be a set of biomedical informatics competencies which we believe will define the core knowledge and skills of the field.