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Postdoctoral Researcher in Digital Mental Health

100%, Singapore, temporary

ETH Zurich is one of the leading universities of the world with a strong focus on science and engineering. In 2010 it established the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) in collaboration with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to do interdisciplinary research on pressing problems.

In collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Duke - NUS, the National Health Group (NHG), National University Health System (NUHS), and SingHealth, SEC is undertaking a research program on "Future Health Technologies FHT". It addresses some immanent health challenges by developing a future-oriented Mobile Digital Health Concept that tackles the increase in patients suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and stroke, as a consequence of a rapidly ageing population with mobile digital technologies, covering the value chain from acute care to patient's private homes. Within this framework we are announcing the following job opening. 

Project background

The burden of mental disorders continues to grow with significant impacts on health and major social, human rights, and economic consequences in all countries of the world (WHO Fact Sheet 2019). It is thus of utmost importance to develop preventive interventions that address this significant societal problem. FHT's Mobile Health Interventions module investigates how mobile chatbot technology can be leveraged to assist individuals in preventing depression from a public health perspective. Accordingly, chatbots can act as scalable mental health coaches that guide individuals with subclinical depression, i.e. a condition in which a person has depressive symptoms but does not meet the criteria for a depressive disorder, through a personalized digital mental health intervention.

Job description

As a Postdoctoral Researcher in Digital Mental Health, you will conduct digital mental health research to help identify the best smartphone-based and chatbot-delivered intervention components to reduce subclinical depression. You will closely collaborate with our research partners from the Health Services and Outcomes Research Programme at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), while working with various individuals with subclinical depression, such as students or employees, to develop an effective mobile coaching service.

Together with a team of three doctoral students (with a background in health psychology, behavioral medicine, and technology management) and software engineers, you will design a conceptual model for a smartphone-based and chatbot-delivered intervention, and conduct a pilot study in Year 1. Moreover, you will conduct optimization trials in Year 2, and a pilot randomized controlled trial in the last 2.5 years. All trials must consider key findings from implementation science so that the resulting digital coaching service can be easily adopted by the Singaporean healthcare system (e.g., Health Promotion Board, National Parks Board, hospitals and poly clinics, health insurer) or (business) organizations (e.g., universities, digital health start-ups).

You will also undertake promotional activities to increase community awareness of the coaching service through conferences, workshops, seminars, and social media engagement, while also conducting evaluations and preparing study protocols and written publications for high quality, peer-reviewed journals. You will also present results at local and national scientific meetings and develop grant applications for research funding.

This is a unique opportunity to build your research profile, leading a high-quality, government-funded project. Amongst the many benefits associated with working at SEC, you will also receive formal and informal professional development and mentoring, and supervise Ph.D. students, while making a real-world impact on mental health services for vulnerable individuals in Singapore.

The preferred start date is July 1st, 2020. Candidates will be screened on a continuous basis until the position has been filled. The position is planned for 4.5 years if a midterm review of the research activities after 2 years results in a positive evaluation.

Please note that the employment will be at the Singapore-‚ÄčETH Centre and local working regulations will apply. Workplace is Singapore.

Your profile

Successful candidates have a strong track record in digital health interventions, preferably in the fields of subclinical depression, chronic stress, behavioral medicine, public health, and conversational agents. Candidates are also required to have a doctoral degree, as well as experience in behavioral medicine, public health, computer science, technology management, and they are familiar with the ethical, legal, and health-political challenges of medical research. Essential qualifications for this position are excellent communication skills in English, positive experiences with interdisciplinary collaborations, a sense for pursuing overreaching goals, and the capacity to establish a wide local, national, and international network with researchers, clinicians, digital health entrepreneurs, and the Singaporean healthcare system.

Singapore-ETH Centre

The Singapore-ETH Centre provides a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment to researchers working on diverse themes focussed on sustainable and liveable cities, resilient urban systems, and patient-centric healthcare. The centre is home to a community of over 100 doctoral, postdoctoral and professorial researchers working in three main programmes: Future Cities Laboratory, Future Resilient Systems, and Future Health Technologies.
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We look forward to receiving your online application including the following documents:

  • Cover letter outlining your motivation and experience in the fields of mental health, digital health interventions, and in supervising (doctoral) students
  • CV
  • List of publications (including "under review" and "work-in-progress" manuscripts)
  • Certificates (e.g. doctoral degree, Master's degree, Bachelor's degree, etc.)
  • Transcript of records

For further information about our research and projects, please visit More information about the Mobile Health Intervention Module of the FHT programme is available here: Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Tobias Kowatsch, Scientific Director of the Center for Digital Health Interventions (ETH Zurich & University of St.Gallen) and Assistant Professor for Digital Health, University of St.Gallen, by email (no applications).

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

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