UCI News

UCI Institute for Future Health to harness technology to build personalized health model

Interdisciplinary group to combine research, clinical care to empower people

February 4, 2021
UCI Institute for Future Health to harness technology to build personalized health model
“Our approach is to understand lifestyle and environmental factors as they affect an individual and use them to build a personal model that will steer one’s health state to meet an individual’s goals,” says UCI’s Ramesh Jain. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 4, 2021 — A newly established Institute for Future Health at the University of California, Irvine will combine research and clinical work to address the movement toward a more personalized healthcare model.

The institute aims to integrate lifestyle, community, environment and socioeconomic factors in conjunction with biomedical and clinical knowledge to radically transform health systems away from hospitals and clinics and into the hands of each individual.

“The mission of the Institute for Future Health is to empower people to better manage their health and quality of life with technology-enabled, personalized and timely advice,” said Pramod Khargonekar, vice chancellor for research.

“Our approach is to understand lifestyle and environmental factors as they affect an individual and use them to build a personal model that will steer one’s health state to meet an individual’s goals.” said Ramesh Jain, institute director and the Donald Bren Professor of computer science at UCI. “This requires collecting real-time lifestyle and environment data in real-life situations. This approach requires that we build an infrastructure to simultaneously do research and translation rather than first doing research and then translation.”

To do this, institute members are developing technology to use a person’s lifestyle and health data from sources which include mobile phones, wearable and personal sensors, environmental data, data related to various personal activities, data from diagnostic medical tests, other medical records, and even genomics and proteomics. This data will be combined with both well-established and the latest knowledge from relevant research areas to develop personalized lifestyle guidance approaches. These, in turn, will guide a person perpetually as needed using lifestyle adjustments and medical care to achieve their health goals.

Institute members aim to harness the power of mobile phones to create a novel approach to health, using an application called a personal health navigator. Similar to a commonly used navigation system, the personal health navigator is for guiding lifestyle and medication, when required, to achieve health goals for a person’s desired quality of life.  This application provides personalized quality healthcare access using their most commonly used device, their mobile phone. The main goal of the institute is to develop technology by combining the latest health-science knowledge from computing and society to build a simple navigational approach for people to attain the quality of life they want.

Already there are more than 40 projects underway in the new institute, including:

  • Building a personal model using personal data from mobile phones, wearable devices and other sources for guiding lifestyle decisions to take care of diseases like diabetes.
  • Recommending food choices to a person that are both tasty and healthy for them based on their personal history.
  • Redesigning patient portals provided by healthcare providers to make the medical record more useful to the patient.
  • A longitudinal study of environmental threats to public-health tracking of real-time physical and mental health using wearable technology.
  • Supporting adolescents struggling with emotional health issues through the use of wearable technology.

“This is the first advance to use each person’s unique model and closed-loop cybernetic approach to perpetually help in achieving personal health goals,” Jain said.

The Institute for Future Health is a provisional Organized Research Unit. More information about the researchers, projects and activities of the Institute for Future Health can be found at https://futurehealth.ics.uci.edu 

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu

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