PhD Position: Open-Access Data Platform for Behavioural Monitoring and Visual Analytics for Mental Health

DTU Compute
Wednesday 28 Feb 18

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A fully-funded PhD position is available in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Compute) as part of the Horizon 2020 TEAM (Technology EnAbled Mental health for young people) European Training Network (ETN).

About the project
Initial evidence suggests that fully and semi-automatically collection of behavioural data from patients suffering from mental disorders can help in treatment, care, and in predicting the onset of mental episodes. However, data, analysis, and predictive power from current studies are very limited due to a small number of subjects (typically 5-20), a narrow disease focus, lack of standardized data formats, and no generalizable analysis methodology. Scientific reproducibility is also inhibited by lack of access to data from such studies. This project will provide a platform for open-access data collection, sharing, and visual analytics of behavioural data collected from wearable and mobile sensors with a special focus on mental health. Ultimately, it will allow researchers to share clinically collected behavioural data and run standardized analytics on it, thus enabling researchers to find patterns in mental disorders across a large number of patients, and also supporting rigorous replication.

The position is hosted at DTU Compute, which performs world-class research in software architecture, distributed systems, social network data collection & analysis, deep learning, and behavioural data collection and analysis for mental health. The candidate will also be affiliated with the Copenhagen Center for Health Technology (CACHET), working in an inspiring team of other PhD students and postdocs. There will be close collaborations with the other TEAM project partners including the clinical organisations. There are nine project partners, one from industry, two not-for-profit healthcare providers and six academic institutions (including two university hospitals), across five countries.

Applicants should have excellent experience, enthusiasm and skills in the areas of software architecture and engineering, ubiquitous computing, and computer science. Applicants must hold a Master’s degree in computer science or software engineering.

About the role
Applications are sought from candidates who have a strong background within one or more of the following research areas: 

  • software engineering and software architecture
  • software frameworks and design patterns
  • distributed and cloud computing
  • ubiquitous computing with a focus on collection and management of mobile and wearable sensor data
  • experimental computer science with a focus on user-centred design of technology
  • environments and platforms for data processing and data analytics
  • mobile phone platforms (Android / iOS)
  • reactive micro-service architectures and scalable deployment (e.g. Docker)

We are looking for a candidate with the following profile:

  • strong programming and practical research skills with a demonstrated portfolio of solid software development experience
  • strong oral and written communication skills in English with a demonstrated portfolio of presentations, reports, and/or popular dissemination
  • strong conceptual and theoretical skills as demonstrated in a strong MSc. Thesis or published scientific papers

A European Training Network (ETN) is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) that focuses on training a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers. ETNs respond to well-identified needs in defined research areas, with appropriate references to interdisciplinary fields. They focus on scientific and technological knowledge through research on individual, personalised projects. There is a core focus on new skills acquisition and the career development of researchers.

ETNs aim to provide enhanced career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors through international, interdisciplinary and intersectoral mobility combined with an innovation-oriented mindset. They support research excellence and structured doctoral training, extending the traditional academic research training setting, and equipping researchers with the right combination of research-related and transferable skills.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) conceptualises health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease. Central to this is the principle that there is no health without mental health. The importance of mental health has been emphasised by the European Ministerial Conference on Mental Health, stating “mental health and well-being are fundamental to quality of life, enabling people to experience life as meaningful and to be creative and active citizens. Mental health is an essential component of social cohesion, productivity and peace and stability in the living environment, contributing to social capital and economic development in society.” Recent research has highlighted the significant challenges facing both national and international mental health services. This has led to urgent calls for innovative new approaches to improve mental health care services, and the implementation of new strategies for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems has become a central objective in international health policies. Young people have been identified as particularly vulnerable and requiring specific attention.

The overall objective of the TEAM ITN is to create a network of expertise and train a new generation of researchers who will help to deliver more effective, more affordable and more feasible mental health services for young people. To achieve this objective, we have brought together a network that is interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral. Our focus is on the design, development and evaluation of new technology-enabled mental health services.

The TEAM research program is built around four key research objectives, focused around key challenges in improving youth mental health services. We will deliver new technologies that support rapid, large-scale, and early assessment, prevention and treatment of mental health difficulties in young people. In order to fully harness the potential of technology in this area, TEAM will also deliver innovative new policy directions and guidelines for technology-enabled mental health. The overall research program is being achieved through 15 interconnected PhD studentships.

TEAM PhD students will receive integrated training across three key areas necessary to fully realise the potential of technology-enabled mental health: Mental Healthcare Delivery - the theories and practice of youth mental health; Computer Science - core principles in software engineering and technology infrastructures; Interaction Design - theories and methods including co-designing with young people and active engagement with clinicians, social workers, caregivers (e.g., parents) and teachers.

TEAM is a collaboration across academic, non-academic and healthcare sectors. Students will benefit from intersectoral secondments, interdisciplinary communication skills, public engagement and outreach while working on a programme of interrelated core research projects addressing gaps in the knowledge and evidence base for technology-enabled mental health services. Each PhD student will obtain an invaluable network across leading research institutions in Europe, which will form a strong basis for further career development.

The TEAM network consists of 15 PhD students who are based in the following partner organisations across Europe: 

  • TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY of DENMARK, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • REACHOUT IRELAND LTD, Dublin, Ireland

About DTU Compute
DTU Compute conducts research and provides teaching in the fields of mathematics, modelling and computer science. The expanding mass of information and the increasingly complex use of advanced technology in society demand development of advanced computer based mathematical models and calculations. The unique skills of the department are in high demand in IT innovation and production.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 5,800 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society; and our 11,000 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government, and public agencies.

Eligibility Criteria for TEAM
Candidates must have a master's degree in computer science, software engineering, informatics, machine learning, or equivalent academic qualifications. Preference will be given to candidates who can document experience in human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and pervasive healthcare. Strong software building skills are required.

Applicants must provide evidence of equivalent competence in the English language by achieving the minimum standard in a recognised English language test, as outlined at the following link:

At the time of recruitment, the researcher may NOT have resided or carried out activity in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the submission deadline date (short stays such as vacation are not taken into account).

Researchers participating in an ETN have to be ‘Early Stage Researchers’ at the time of recruitment. This means that they are in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes of DTU. For information about the general requirements for enrolment and the general planning of the scholarship studies, please see the DTU PhD Guide.  

Salary and appointment terms
The salary and appointment terms are consistent with the TEAM ETN PhD program. This funding is – compared to many other national funding models – very generous and includes funds for equipment and travel. The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The period of employment and funding is 3 years.

Informal Enquiries
Informal enquiries about this position may be made to Professor Jakob E. Bardram,

Further information concerning the application is available at the DTU Compute PhD homepage.

Application Process
Please submit your online application no later than 1 April 2018 (local time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • application describing your background and relevant skills for the position (max. 5 pages)
  • complete CV incl. publication list and personal references
  • documentation of a relevant completed M.Sc. or M.Eng. degree
  • course and grade list of bachelor and master degrees
  • calculation of the weighted grade average, see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Important Notes
Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria as outlined above and are selected for interview will be notified by email. Please provide the email address you wish to be contacted on, when you submit.

Initial interviews will be held online (Skype or similar) and you will be notified of the date. The final interview will be held at DTU, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The PhD position will have at least 1-3 pre-arranged secondments to another European country. These secondments are mandatory and the candidate will have to commit to the planned second-ment when taking up the PhD position.