Category Archives: News

NSF postdoc position

***Call for a postdoctoral position in behavior and technology

We are hiring a postdoctoral fellow for a project funded by the National Science Foundation Smart and Connected Health, “SCH: INT: Collaborative Research: Unobtrusive Sensing and Motivational Feedback for Family Wellness” ( The candidate will work full time for one year with a possibility of renewing for two more years. The candidate will be housed within the Division of Biomedical Informatics at the University of California San Diego Department of Medicine. The earliest starting date is between November, 2017 and January, 2018. The deadline for the application is on a rolling basis. The search will continue until the ideal candidate has been selected.

The candidate will be expected to carry out the design, development, and evaluation of the SHINE system, a system that senses and visualizes to families their behavioral routines that impact child obesity. The following are expected roles:
* Project management: Organize milestones of the project, coordinate communication among collaborators, manage student research volunteers, purchase project materials and participate in budget management, work with the IRB
* Research activities: Contribute to refining and optimizing proposed research design, conduct qualitative and quantitative research, conduct literature reviews, generate publications, write grants
* Work with the Latino community in San Diego: Work closely with our Latino community partners to build rapport with the community, recruit participants for the study, and engage our Latino community advisory board as a major stakeholder throughout the project

The candidate is expected to:
* Be a fluent bilingual speaker and writer of English and Spanish
* Have strong social science research training: Basic theoretical understanding of various research methods including qualitative research, community-based participatory research, field observations, randomized controlled trials, and meta-reviews
* Have strong expertise in at least one behavioral health area with interest in technology: public health, behavior change, health informatics, health communication, epidemiology, family medicine, psychology, sociology, or others related to technology and health
* Maintain strong work ethic, professionalism, and motivation and be able to work independently
* Have great communication and organizational skills: Prompt communication, effective goal setting, and execution of tasks
* Enjoy working with people: Know how to utilize the various skillsets of volunteer students to accomplish goals
* Have strong writing skills (from emails to journal articles) and solid history of publications in her/his field

Degrees required:
PhD or equivalent in the areas of behavioral health and technology (e.g., public health, behavior change, health informatics, health communication, epidemiology, family medicine, psychology, sociology)

The salary will be in accordance with UC San Diego’s salary scale relevant to the candidate’s qualifications:

Interested candidates should email a cover letter and a CV. In the email title, add “[SHINE]” to make sure the email is forwarded to this position call. Feel free to email Jina Huh ( for any questions regarding specific questions about the project.

Towards Supporting Patient Decision-making In Online Diabetes Communities

Towards Supporting Patient Decision-making In Online Diabetes Communities

Authors: Jing Zhang, Rebecca Marmor, Jina Huh

Accepted at AMIA 2017, Washington DC


As of 2014, 29.1 million people in the US have diabetes. Patients with diabetes have evolving information needs around complex lifestyle and medical decisions. As their conditions progress, patients need to sporadically make decisions by understanding alternatives and comparing options. These moments along the decision-making process present a valuable opportunity to support their information needs. An increasing number of patients visit online diabetes communities to fulfill their information needs. To understand how patients attempt to fulfill the information needs around decision-making in online communities, we reviewed 801 posts from an online diabetes community and included 79 posts for in-depth content analysis. The findings revealed motivations for posters’ inquiries related to decision-making including the changes in disease state, increased self-awareness, and conflict of information received. Medication and food were the among the most popular topics discussed as part of their decision-making inquiries. Additionally, We present insights for automatically identifying those decision-making inquiries to efficiently support information needs presented in online health communities.

New seed grant received on expressive art therapy in inpatient services

We received $10,000 to develop the project, ‘Assessing efficacy of passive and active forms of expressive art therapy in inpatient services’, through the UCSD Health Sciences Academic Senate Research Grant Program.

Research questions and hypotheses
Study 1. Investigate efficacy and feasibility of passive expressive art therapy (PEAT)
Research Question. How is PEAT used at the JMC hospital?

Hypotheses: We hypothesize that patients who use the PEAT application will demonstrate reduced pain (Primary). We hypothesize that prediction models among patients will be able to identify patient cohorts that are more likely to use the PEAT application (Secondary).

Study 2. Evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of passive and active expressive art therapy
Research Question. What is the feasibility of recruitment, assessment, retention, compliance, and patient satisfaction?

Hypotheses: Expressive art therapy (both, active and passive) will improve reported pain among inpatients compared to usual care (Primary). Expressive art therapy will improve anxiety among inpatients compared to usual care (Secondary).

With Jejo Koola, MD, at Biomedical Informatics, Jina Huh will collaborate with the following people for this project: Chief Information Officer of UC San Diego Health (UCSDH) Chris Longhurst’s office, Steven Hickman’s group at the Mindfulness Institute at UCSDH, the Expressive Arts Institute of San Diego, CEO of UCSDH Thomas Savides, CMIO of Inpatient and Hopsital Affiliations at UCSDH, Paul Mills at CTRI UCSD, Rebecca Marmor, Kevin Ramotar at UCSD CAPS, and palliative care clinician Jeremy Hirst and alternative medicine researcher Erik Groessl.


Hiring 2 postdocs at UCSD DBMI: NOW CLOSED

Update 12/1/2016: POSITION CLOSED

The Division of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Diego is looking for 2 postdoctoral candidates with a background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and usability. The position will start immediately, and the duration of the postdoc is one year with a possibility of extending for another year.

DBMI leads multiple federally and non-profit funded biomedical research projects, which are focused on the integration, analysis, and sharing of biomedical and health care data for the scientific community, as well as patient-centered research. In addition, the department runs a complex computational infrastructure that allows privacy preserved access and analysis of these data.

The candidates will work as part of an NIH BD2K project ( and conduct contextual inquiry and usability testing for improving and expanding DataMed (, which is a data access tool for biomedical researchers.

* Salary and stipends

The salaries follow standard University of California rate:

As of December, 2016, postdocs salaries will be at a minimum at level 2. Depending on the total number of years worked as a postdoc, candidates will receive higher-level salaries according to the salary table.

The application review will begin immediately. To apply, please email your CV, 2 references, a one-page research statement describing your responses to this call with the title starting, “[DataMed postdoc].” Please feel free to email any questions before you apply.

Welcoming students looking for research opportunities

We are welcoming students (undergrad, grad, postdoc) looking for research opportunities. The student will assist the project under the mentorship of a postdoc and faculty with diverse expertise in human-computer interaction, computer science, statistics, biomedical informatics, and pediatrics. Please email Jina Huh (jinahuh at ucsd dot edu) for all inquiries.

  1. Overall project description

    In this 4-year project, we are developing an unobtrusive sensing and awareness system to help Latino families improve family routines. Family routines improvement can lead to various wellness improvements, including child obesity prevention. The system will use mobile phones to detect family routines (screen viewing activities, sleep, family dinner frequency), and children participants will wear wearable devices to sense physical activity level. These sensor data will be visualized as a virtual garden / farm that gives awareness to children about their daily routines. The system collects all family users’ data and strategically shares them among families to increase motivation for family routine improvement.

2. The sub-tasks involved in this project include:


  • Interviews with families
  • Observe families’ home settings
  • Brainstorm design
  • Prototype (low-fi, high-fi)
  • Generate animation of the objects

*Development & implementation

  • Develop middleware between the interface and the backend
  • Data management (sensor data collected)


  • Deploy prototypes to families to get their feedback
  • Data collection

3. Skills good to have (one of below):

  • User-centered design (interviews, observation, sketching)
  • Advanced prototyping (Adobe Flash or Unity)
  • Programming (Language: TBD, to build middleware that communicates between the interface and the backend database)
  • Spanish speaking (to communicate with the Latinos families)
  • And any other you suggest you can bring to this project

4. Incentive

  • Earn independent study credits
  • Build research experience, including co-authoring in papers (For those applying to graduate programs)
  • Build project portfolio (For those going to industries as a designer/engineer)
  • Internship closely working with faculty in medicine, with potential opportunities to shadow (for those in Pre-med programs)
  • Paid hours depending on skill level

People involved in this project:

Jina Huh, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Informatics
Lizbeth Escobedo, PhD, Postdoctoral fellow
Robert El-Kareh, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Biomedical Informatics, UCSD Hospital
Kyung (Kay) E. Rhee, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Jihoon Kim, MS, Principal Statistician, Biomedical Informatics

Michigan State University
Guoliang Xing, PhD, Associate Professor, Computer Science
Wei Peng, PhD, Associate Professor, Media and Information
Barbara Smith, PhD, RN, Professor, Nursing
Olga Napolova, MD, MSU Pediatrics

Heather Cruz, Director of Health and Wellness, Chula Vista Elementary School District