New Ph.D. Program in Personal Health Informatics

Northeastern University has funded Ph.D. openings for September, 2012 in its new transdisciplinary doctoral program in Personal Health Informatics. For a full program description, see Applications for priority admission and funding are due by February 15.

More information:

Northeastern’s Ph.D. in Personal Health Informatics is a new transdisciplinary doctoral program focused on educating top researchers in the theoretical underpinnings, design, evaluation, and dissemination of consumer- and patient-focused health systems. Personal health technologies are those that non-health professionals interact with directly, both in and out of a clinical setting and in various life stages of illness and wellness.

Examples include:
• Assistive technologies that aid persons with disabilities;
• Consumer wellness promotion technologies;
• Patient education and counseling systems;
• Interfaces for reviewing personal health records;
• Advanced ambulatory monitoring for supporting health;
• Automated eldercare systems that monitor health and support independent living; and
• Social networking systems connecting families and their social and medical support networks

Developing personal health interface technologies requires that researchers have skills and experience designing systems for individual patients and consumers with a wide range of backgrounds in different contexts using a variety of media, while ensuring that fielded technologies are effective, reliable, and responsive to the needs of at-risk and patient populations. Critical skills and knowledge include needs assessment, theories of interface design and health behavior, rapid prototyping and implementation, experimental design with human subjects in challenging settings, and statistical data analysis and validation. Moreover, these skills must be deployed while working with, or leading, transdisciplinary teams.

The interdisciplinary nature of the program targets students who are interested in improving health and wellness using novel technologies that directly impact the lives of consumers and patients. This is a program for students who are not only technically strong but also socially conscious, design-oriented, and interested in rigorously evaluating the technologies they imagine and build. The program provides a path for technical students to acquire more experience in the deployment and evaluation of health technologies in the field, but also a path for students with health backgrounds to develop the technical skills needed to prototype and assess creative ideas they envision for improving care.

Graduates will be prepared to succeed as faculty, industry scientific advisors and entrepreneurs. This program’s transdisciplinary nature and its focus on innovative technology to improve care from the patient’s perspective distinguishes it from doctoral degree programs in computer science and medical and health informatics.

Northeastern University is located in Boston Massachusetts. Northeastern’s campus is within walking distance of some of the top hospitals and medical research organizations in the world, creating unlimited collaboration opportunities for doctoral students in one of the leading cities in medical innovation in the world.

For more information on the program, Northeastern Personal Health Informatics faculty, and Northeastern, see

I can personally vouch for Dr. Stephen Intille, one fo the lead faculty for this program. He has done some amazing work in health and self-tracking technology. In our discussions he’s been instrumental in helping me think about how to conduct real user-focused technology research. I’ve said to many people. If I was starting a PhD today, this is the program I would apply to.

We are again accepting applications again this year for a start in Sep 2013.