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Participatory Mobile Health (mHealth): Innovative Approaches to Data Collection, Analysis, and Use

June 20, 2012

Deborah Estrin, PhD
Professor, UCLA Computer Science Department
Director, Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS)
Co-Founder, Open mHealth

About the Presentation: The most significant health and wellness challenges increasingly involve chronic conditions, from diabetes, hypertension, and asthma to depression, chronic-pain, sleep and neurological disorders. And three lifestyle behaviors – poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking – contribute to many of these conditions. Participatory mHealth leverages the power and ubiquity of mobile technologies to assist individuals, clinicians, and researchers in monitoring, managing, and understanding symptoms, side effects and treatment outside the clinical setting; and to address the lifestyle factors that can bring on or exacerbate these conditions. By empowering individuals to track and manage their key health-related behaviors and outcomes, this approach has the potential to greatly improve people’s health and quality of life, while simultaneously reducing societies’ overall healthcare costs.

Participatory mHealth incorporates a variety of techniques, including automated activity traces, reminders and prompted inputs. This talk will present our experience to date with mHealth pilots and prototypes and will discuss areas in need of significant R&D: open modular tools for innovative data collection, analysis and visualization across diverse data types, engagement such as adaptive goal setting and game mechanics, and privacy mechanisms.

About the Presenter: Deborah Estrin is Professor of Computer Science at UCLA, the Jon Postel Chair in Computer Networks, Director of the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS), and co-founder of the non-profit open mHealth ( She received her Ph.D. (1985) in Computer Science from M.I.T., and her B.S. (1980) from UC Berkeley. Estrin’s early research focused on the design of network protocols, including multicast and inter-domain routing. In 2002 Estrin founded the NSF-funded Science and Technology Center, CENS (, to develop and explore environmental monitoring technologies and applications. Currently Estrin and collaborators are developing participatory sensing systems, leveraging the programmability, proximity, and pervasiveness of mobile devices; the current deployment contexts are mobile health (, community data gathering, and STEM education ( Professor Estrin is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007) and the National Academy of Engineering (2009). She is a fellow of the IEEE, ACM, and AAAS. She was selected as the first ACM-W Athena Lecturer (2006), awarded the Anita Borg Institute’s Women of Vision Award for Innovation (2007), inducted into the WITI hall of fame (2008) and awarded Doctor Honoris Causa from EPFL (2008) and Uppsala University (2011).