Public Health Informatics

Faculty: Sanjoy Dasgupta, James Fowler, Richard Garfein, William Griswold, Hyeoneui Kim, Gregory Norman, Lucila Ohno-Machado, Kevin Patrick, Steffanie Strathdee

Public health informatics explores the collection and dissemination of health information outside of traditional clinical settings. Representative public health informatics efforts at UCSD include:

  • Behavioral and environmental health and monitoring, which focuses on the use of information and telecommunications technology to measure and improve health-related behaviors of individuals and populations. BMI faculty collaborate with computer scientists, geneticists, preventive medicine clinicians, and environmental scientists to understand the relationships between physical activity energy expenditure, the environment, and health-related factors at the individual and population level. Innovative techniques such as social network analysis are used as early sensors for public health issues, such as obesity and contagious outbreaks.
  • Syndromic surveillance, which integrates information about individuals’ pre-diagnostic symptoms with other data sources to detect and characterize concerning patterns within a population. With the upcoming focus on meaningful use, public health will acquire more clinical data, which can be useful not only for epidemiology of infectious diseases but also of chronic diseases.
  • Global health, a strong component of our program at UCSD, which has funding for informatics training within DBMI (Biomedical Research Informatics for Global Health Training (BRIGHT) Program) and the Division of Global Public Health in the School of Medicine. Informatics research involves geographical information systems, development, implementation, and evaluation of systems in resource-poor settings, and behavior change through informatics tools and mobile devices.