CTBH had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Elad Yom-Tov, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, for the first CTBH Seminar of 2020 entitled “Novel collection of internet data to study issues of mental health”.
In his talk, Dr. Yom-Tov described how the majority of internet users turn to the web for information related to a medical concern, and how the data generated in the process can help uncover conditions that are difficult to monitor using traditional medical data sources. Accessing this data in order to learn about the conditions of interest and conducting interventions in an online environment, however, is often challenging. Dr. Yom-Tov presented his work which aims to learn about issues of mental health using novel collection of online data and innovative intervention methods. First, he discussed studies where crowdsourced users contributed their browsing histories, which his team used to identify eating disorders, depression, and barriers to treatment, and how the models constructed using these data may be applied to the browsing data of users across the web to predict the prevalence of mental conditions at a population level. In the second part of his talk, Dr. Yom-Tov showed how advertising in search engines can be used to intervene in online behavior. He presented work demonstrating the use of online ads to estimate the effect of a specific pro-anorexia website on future behaviors of users and to nudge users to less harmful behaviors and to earlier diagnosis.
Dr. Yom-Tov’s primary research interests are in applying large-scale machine learning and information retrieval methods to medicine. Before joining Microsoft, he was with Yahoo Research, IBM Research, and Rafael. Dr. Yom-Tov studied at Tel-Aviv University and the Technion, Israel. He has published four books, over 100 papers (of which 3 were awarded prizes), and was awarded more than 20 patents. His latest book is “Crowdsourced Health: How What You Do on the Internet Will Improve Medicine” (MIT Press, 2016).