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Postdoctoral Researcher in Digital Biomarkers for Healthy Longevity at HSG School of Medicine (100%)

The ongoing digitisation of our everyday life offers unique opportunities for innovation in healthcare. The Chair of Digital Health Interventions is an integral part of the Centre for Digital Health Interventions, a joint initiative of the Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich (UZH), both the School of Medicine and the Institute of Technology Management at the University of St.Gallen (HSG), and the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics at ETH Zurich (ETH). CDHI strives to design, implement, and evaluate consumer- and healthcare provider-centric applications for the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) using ubiquitous computing technology. To strengthen the research activities of the Chair of Digital Health Interventions, we offer the position of a Postdoctoral Researcher in Digital Biomarkers for Healthy Longevity (100%) at HSG School of Medicine, St.Gallen.

Background

Healthcare systems worldwide face challenges arising from the increase of NCDs such as cardiovascular disease or mental disorders, their related risk factors, and associated economic costs. A holistic intervention paradigm that focuses on physical, mental, and social health is needed to prevent and manage NCDs effectively. However, current interventions are limited in scalability and do not provide data-driven, precise, and actionable interventions. To this end, the Chair of Digital Health Interventions at HSG School of Medicine investigates how ubiquitous technology can be leveraged to support individuals at risk in the most scalable way. This is done by detecting vulnerable states and delivering high precision and actionable interventions, for example, with the help of digital biomarkers, smartphones, smartwatches, chatbots, or voice assistants.

Job description

You will lead the CSS Health Lab as Scientific Director and co-supervise several PhD students in close collaboration with Professors Tobias Kowatsch (UZH, HSG & ETH; Digital Health Interventions), Elgar Fleisch (ETH Zurich and HSG, Information Management), and Florian von Wangenheim (ETH; Technology Marketing). CSS is one of the largest Swiss health insurance companies, and the CSS Health Lab forms an integral part of the CDHI. Given the increasing health and economic burden of NCDs, you will work on the question of how to make preventive care models a success (e.g., in healthy, at-risk, or patient populations). You will make prevention measurable, actionable, and accountable by supervising a team that develops digital biomarkers for healthy longevity. To this end, you will conduct a series of digital biomarker studies by collecting and leveraging intensive longitudinal behavioural and physiological data (e.g. via wearables and voice interactions) and by using repeated measures of blood biomarkers, microbiome, and/or epigenetic data sets. With this data, you will develop proximal and distal digital biomarkers for biological age (e.g. a proximal digital biomarker for metabolic health). The resulting digital biomarkers will be used to trigger behavioural precision interventions that slow down biological ageing processes. MobileCoach (www.mobile-coach.eu), among other technologies, will be used to conduct your digital biomarker research.

You will work in a highly interdisciplinary team at the intersection of computer science, behavioural medicine, clinical psychology, and business innovation. You must consider key findings from implementation science so that the resulting digital biomarkers can be adopted by the Swiss healthcare system and other relevant stakeholders within and beyond the borders of Switzerland (e.g., Health Promotion Switzerland, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, patients, family doctors, hospitals, health insurers, universities, digital health start-ups).

You will also engage in promotional activities to increase community awareness of your digital biomarker research through conferences, workshops, keynotes, seminars, and social media engagement, while also working on grant proposals, study protocols and publications for high-quality, peer-reviewed journals (e.g., Lancet Digital Health, npj Digital Medicine). You will also support the teaching activities of the chair.

You will have

  • A PhD in computer science, machine learning, computational biology statistics or related fields
  • Expertise in digital biomarker research
  • Experience with lab experiments, clinical trials, good clinical practice
  • Strong interest in applied science
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills in English

The following competencies will be advantageous

  • Familiarity with ethical, legal, and health-political challenges of medical research
  • Positive experiences with interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Experience with control systems theory and just-in-time adaptive interventions
  • Understanding of the digital health start-up space and MedTech companies

Are you Interested?

We look forward to receiving your application, including the following documents:

  • Cover letter outlining your motivation and experience in the field
  • CV including certificates (e.g., PhD diploma and Master’s and/or Bachelor’s degree)
  • List of publications (including “under review” and “forthcoming” manuscripts)
  • Transcript of records

If you are fascinated by the described task and would like to be part of a highly motivated team, we would be pleased to receive your electronic application. Please send your documents to Prof. Dr Tobias Kowatsch: tobias.kowatsch@unisg.ch

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