Seeking - Digital Health Data Scientist

A joint position between Centre for Digital Transformation of Health and Melbourne Centre for Data Science

Update: 20 April - this position is now closed for EoI's.

Centre for Digital Transformation of Health and Melbourne Centre for Data Science, at the University of Melbourne, seek expressions of interest from talented early or mid-career academics who wish to contribute to data analytics on two grant funded projects.

The role will be available as either as a casual appointment or, for applicants already at the University of Melbourne, a collaborative/partial secondment role. The role will commence in May 2023 in the first instance, with potential to extend if successful and subject to ongoing funding. This is an exceptional opportunity to provide your data science expertise to two translational digital health projects with real-world outcomes.

The ideal candidate will be a Level A or B academic. You will have a strong desire to grow your career as a digital health data scientist. Experience of working with real-world health data will be preferable. It is critically important that you have the skills to communicate with non-technical audiences, and share your knowledge with other disciplinary experts and consumers in layperson-friendly language.

How to apply?
Your application should consist of a Curriculum Vitae and a covering letter of no more than two (2) pages outlining the reasons for your interest in the role and specifically addressing your qualifications and experiences as they relate to the roles and responsibilities outlined in this document. Please email your application to with [Application for the position of Digital Health Data Scientist] as the subject line.

Roles and Responsibilities

Overall purpose: To develop and implement data analysis plans for two grant-funded projects


  • Establish and maintain a staging pipeline for usage/analytics data extracted from each web-based platform.
  • Design and implement data verification and cleaning procedures for usage/analytics data.
  • Support data-focussed User Acceptance Testing/ other testing activities.
  • Prepare/support preparation of datasets for analysis including linkage with Patient-reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and other questionnaire data.
  • Support team awareness/understanding of the nature and limitations of collected data through e.g. descriptive analyses, reports and presentations.
  • Apply appropriate statistical methods (e.g. unsupervised learning) to identify conceptual and behavioural categories in collected data, such as distinctive usage or engagement types.
  • Generate research outputs relating to these analytical/exploratory methods, including drafting of relevant manuscript sections and slides.
  • Support the analysis of primary outcome data (and, specifically, the appropriate application of behavioural labels to subgroup analyses.)
  • Contribute to the write up of methods and results in study publications and other outputs.
  • Attend meetings with stakeholders, understand and ensure stakeholder are implemented in the data analysis plan
  • Other ad-hoc duties as assigned to assist with implementation of the online platform.
  • Ensure all work is documented to a level that another researcher or educator could reproduce or easily update the work.
  • Ensure learnings from doing the work are documented so that they can be applied to future similar projects.
  • Understand and comply with university policy, research and clinical data governance rules and the law around data handling and storage.
Project Overviews:

The two main projects on which the successful candidate will be working are summarised below.

1. Responding to need: technology-enhanced brain cancer survivorship
Funded though MRFF 2020 Brain Cancer Survivorship Grant Round Two

Background and problem

Brain cancer accounts for only 1.3% of newly diagnosed cancers in Australia, but cost in quality adjusted life years is greater than any other cancer. People affected by brain cancer experience persistent, distressing and disabling physical, psychosocial, cognitive and financial unmet needs. This is compounded by difficulty in accessing personalised supportive care, connecting and communicating with their treating team and establishing peer support networks, as a result of disability, distance from specialist centres, the low numbers of people affected across the country, and limited supportive care infrastructure for brain cancer survivors.

The intervention: BT Online
The BT Online platform comprises three consumer-informed components:

  • Streamlined access to trusted information - the platform will enable patients and carers to access trusted, disease specific information and supportive care resources to optimise self-care.
  • Safe and secure connection to peer support - the platform will enable patients and carers to connect with others to share experiences and stories from home. Reducing carer isolation and burden through communication, connection and information via this online network will be a major outcome of this project. Unlike in-person support groups which often fail due to low patient numbers or involvement of participants with competing and diverse needs, the platform will provide opportunity for tailored peer support communities (for example, by tumour type, age, carers, parents). These communities will only be accessible for participants, delivering a safe and closed community for sharing personal or sensitive data.
  • Delivery of technology-enabled supportive care and symptom management interventions - a brain cancer diagnosis and its treatment brings significant life-altering morbidity, with sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety and loss of ability to undertake daily activities or fulfill previous social and family roles, as key determinants of impaired QoL. In this project, the feasibility of integrating an online intervention for sleep disturbance (a 6-week cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia delivered online (SHUTi)), as a component of the platform will be established. Demonstration of feasibility will open the potential to add other interventions for symptom management

Clinical: Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (lead sites), St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, University Hospital Geelong (recruitment sites).

Research: Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (clinical, supportive care), DT4H (socio-technical design and evaluation), Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE, UTS) (health economics)

Consumers: 4 consumer AIs representing patients and carers as well as organisations including COGNO, Brain Tumour Ahoy, Grey Matters and Cancer Council

Developers: Two Bulls

Role in the project:

  • Co-design of a technology-enhanced brain cancer survivorship platform – participating and facilitating co-production of the platform with patients, carers, clinicians, developers in cycles of co-designing, testing and evaluating workflows, platform functions and user interfaces for utility, acceptability, implementation barriers and enablers, and remaining gaps.
  • Evaluation – of the impact of BT Online on survivorship quality of life and experience. Outcomes listed in the grant application as important to measure included usage of the platform, patient and carer burden, distress, survivorship experience, care needs (physical, psychosocial and financial), access to peer support, participation in normal activities, health service utilisation, quality of life, cost-effectiveness of the intervention, ability of the platform to scale across multiple health services and to be sustained beyond grant funding.

2. Building Australia’s First Young Stroke Service
Funded though MRFF 2020 Rapid Applied Research Translation Grant

Background and problem

A staggering 1 in 10 young Australians (age 15-55) have a disability, and stroke is a leading cause of disability. By 2050, over 800,000 Australians (142,000 of working age) will be living with a stroke and 88% of young stroke survivors report unmet needs. Young people make up 24% of all strokes in Australia (> 6,500 per year, or 18 every day) and the incidence of stroke in young people is increasing. Productivity losses alone from reduced employment in this younger group cost AUD$1.8 billion in 2020. Those aged 18-45 years (~3,700 each year) represent a distinct group, who are frequently underdiagnosed and are currently underserved within the Australian healthcare system. Young people live with the sequelae of stroke for longer than their older counterparts, during earlier life-stages, exacerbating their lifetime burden of stroke. Services for young stroke survivors are limited, disjointed, or completely absent.
The intervention: digitally-enabled service and follow up system to meet the unique needs of young Australians with stroke

Project objectives are to:

  • Identify the most efficient system to allow rapid identification of young people with stroke, enable their virtual clinic entry and determine the optimal components to create a user-centric landing pad for efficient screening, triage and onward referral of young stroke patients.
  • Implement an evidence-based, personalised virtual ‘clinic’ or multi-disciplinary service model that creates a coherent, connected experience for the user, with integrated in person diagnostic and treatment services where needed, to replace disorganised, inaccessible or absent services, and proof of principle that the young stroke service can operate effectively under different health jurisdictions and bring in effective local services where they exist. The digitally-enabled service should fill critical gaps/ unmet needs in patient care including improved diagnosis and secondary prevention, return to work, psychological support, cognitive recovery, sexuality and intimacy, and personal control of survivorship. The digital platform should support the service model and could include a smart phone app, a website, a data repository, and/or telehealth.
  • Build and evaluate the feasibility of creating a digital platform that delivers both long term engagement (follow up) of young survivors of stroke so they feel less ‘abandoned’ by the healthcare system upon discharge from hospital, and collects data about the causes, recovery trajectories or long-term outcomes of young people with stroke to supplement Australia wide datasets such as the Australian Stroke clinical registry (AuSCR) with deep data on the biology, time course or extent of recovery in order to improve diagnosis, clinical care and support for young survivors of stroke.

Clinical: The Florey including the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry and the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine Service (lead site), Austin Health, Flinders Medical Centre (recruitment sites).

Research: The Florey, Flinders University, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Monash University, La Trobe University, University of Technology Sydney (clinical, allied health, supportive care), DT4H (socio-technical design and evaluation), Australian Stroke Registry (clinical quality improvement)

Consumers: National Stroke Foundation

Developers: Curve Tomorrow

Role in the project:

Evaluation of the virtual clinic/ service model to refine and validate new pathways for acute, rehabilitation and long-term survivorship services, as well as identify service gaps for development. The evaluation will complement process, health service and health economic evaluations and will include evaluation of sociotechnical contributing factors to the health outcomes that the project achieves, namely (a) the quality of user groups’ experience of the technology (e.g. usability, audio-visual design, engagement with content, persuasiveness, social presence, therapeutic acceptability) and (b) the context of technical standards for managing and governing health data and information (platforming rationale, implementability into workflows and lifestyles, privacy and security, and ability to integrate with other patient information systems.

  • Job