22 March 2017 11:37

Lancaster University is strengthening its digital health research capability with the appointment of a global expert to a newly created role.

Professor Sumi Helal joins Lancaster, from the University of Florida, as ‘Chair in Digital Health’ and will lead research, teaching and scholarship in the field as well as build on relationships within the NHS, the social care sector and industry.

Professor Helal will work across Lancaster’s School of Computing and Communications, within the university’s Faculty of Science and Technology, as well as Lancaster’s Faculty of Health and Medicine.

The Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Professor Peter Atkinson, and the Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medicine, Professor Neil Johnson, said: “We are delighted to announce the appointment to the University of Professor Sumi Helal as Chair in Digital Health, an appointment which is held jointly with both faculties and is part of an ongoing strategic investment in Digital Health by the University.

“Professor Helal is joining us from the University of Florida and is a world-renowned expert in mobile and pervasive computing with special focus on smart health and well-being, smart homes, and assistive technology in support of personal health, ageing, disabilities and independence.”

Professor Helal is well known for his research on smart homes. He is co-founder of a pioneering experimental facility to test new research developments in these fields called the ‘Gator Tech Smart House’.

In addition, Professor Helal is Editor in Chief of IEEE Computer, the flagship magazine of the IEEE Computer Society. He is also one of the co-founders and editorial board members of the IEEE Pervasive Computing Magazine. Professor Helal is a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors.

He has organised 26 conferences and is one of very few to have chaired both the prestigious ACM Ubicomp and ACM MobiCom academic computing conferences.

His digital health work has attracted media attention in the United States, including the New York Times, MIT Technology Review, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today and the Discovery Channel.

Professor Helal said: “I am thrilled to have been selected as Chair in Digital Health in one of the most forward-thinking top-ten universities in the UK. What is unique about this opportunity is an unwavering commitment by the university to the digital health vision, the top-notch academic staff working in related areas, and the numerous exciting health projects that are ongoing or planned for the near future. The position is truly energising.

“I look forward to working with colleagues and students in both faculties as well as with the faculties’ leaderships to strengthen Lancaster University’s position and impact in digital health research, education, and innovation.”

The appointment of a Chair in Digital Health is the latest strategic investment by the university in this area, in addition to the creation of the £41 million Health Innovation Campus as well as ongoing work by researchers in faculties, the Digital Health Forum and the Data Science Institute.