Junior/Senior Scientist in Computer Science & Digital Health Trajectories in Chronic Illness

  • Listing number: UNIGE-2023-2
  • Publication date: November 15, 2023
  • Employer: University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Workplace: Uni Battelle (Carouge)
  • Start: Upon Agreement
  • Employment: 100%

At this time, only applications from EU/Swiss candidates can be considered. 

Description of the Scientific Environment

The Quality of Life Technologies (QoL) lab at the Information Systems and Services Science of the Center for Informatics (CUI) of the University of Geneva is looking for a motivated junior or senior scientist to join the lab. The lab research interests revolve around the fundamental and algorithmic problems, as well as human-centric challenges of the systems enabling an assessment and improvement of human behaviour, health, and quality of life in the long term.

Specifically, the research topic relates to research on Quality of Life assessment, modelling and its improvement for healthy and patients’ populations while leveraging current QoL lab expertise in mobile computing for data acquisition and expertise in machine learning, including deep learning for data modeling. The research will employ user-centric design methods, leveraging the mixed methods (quantitative-qualitative, in human subject studies) and rely on interdisciplinary collaboration for data collection and the derived models’ evaluation.


Research Context

Chronic illnesses as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular, diabetes, pulmonary, cancer or neurological diseases have a profound impact on global health, with millions of new cases and a significant number of fatalities reported. Chronic diseases have a multitude of complex causes, with behavioral ones, like sedentarism, malnutrition, smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, and poor stress management, contributing up to 60% of the probability of its expression. Also, chronic diseases are now being diagnosed at earlier ages, than centuries ago. There is an urgency to address the challenges posed by chronic illnesses, not only from a healthcare perspective but also in terms of their broader societal and economic implications.

The life quality outcomes are increasingly researched as very important outcomes in chronic illness, as the disease symptoms may be debilitating, and the treatments are long and burdensome for the patients, who try to reconcile their personal, professional, social, and other activities with their health state. Currently, patients’ physical and psychological status and overall life quality (QoL) are typically assessed via Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs). However, these assessments suffer from biases affecting reporting, ceiling and floor effects, and a lack of sensitivity to change at their scale’s extremes. Conversely, personal smartphones and wearables are becoming increasingly accurate in measuring short and long-term behavioral Technology-Reported Outcomes (TechROs). The extent to which TechROs provide complementary life quality information, which may be clinically useful, is being researched. To this end, this project we will focus on investigating the operational and human factors influencing the use of new technologies (wearables, apps) to collect quality of life (PRO/ HRQoL) datasets in clinical trials, research studies, and in routine clinical practice.

There are two concrete pilot projects, in which the candidate is expected to lead efforts in prospective data collection study from a small group of patients in longitudinal studies in collaboration with the clinical experts from the University of Geneva Hospitals (HUG): in the context of breast cancer, as well as migraine. The methods employed in that study are mixed, including face to face entry/intermediate/exit interviews, surveys, and focus groups, as well as passive wearable/smartphone data collection methods (via the mQoL Living Lab).

Via user-centric design methods and interactive additive data acquisition and modeling approach, aspects of data quality, methods’ feasibility, reliability, and validity shall be scrutinized. Selected retrospective datasets are available for this project, however, they do include only rudimentary behavioral and life quality outcomes.


The research conducted within this candidate will contribute to software being continually developed by the QoL Lab members and constituting the mQoL Living Lab (implying Android/iOS, Flutter, Python, Kotlin). The applicant should be comfortable using standard machine learning libraries (e.g., sk-learn, pandas, PyTorch, and TensorFlow/Keras) and data visualization software (e.g., Plotly, Seaborn, Matplotlib). Additionally, the CUI has its own FacLab, with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools, which may be freely leveraged within the project.


The principal supervisor is Professor Katarzyna Wac

Main Responsibilities Include:

  • Managing own research within the QoL Lab scope and the scope of the myMigraine and/or EORTC EMBED projects (including other students, papers, proposals, etc. depending on the level of seniority); note that own research project must contribute to at least one of these two and implies completely managing own real-life settings study with recruited patients in Geneva (N: at least 30, length: at least 6 months).
  • Contributing additional mQoL Living Lab features, including integrating new wearables’ APIs and new machine learning methods for data analysis
  • Executing full lifecycle mQoL Living Lab software development and evaluation in real-life settings with a set of patients in the scope of the myMigraine and/or EORTC EMBED projects. The latter one means completely managing own real-life settings study with recruited patients (N: at least 30, length: at least 6 months).
  • Please feel free to apply even if you think your expertise and interest only partially fulfill these responsibilities


The chosen candidate will be hired on a 1-year renewable contract. The position has a maximum duration span of 3 years. In the first year, there is a 3-month trial period during which both parties can terminate the working agreement.


Formal Requirements
Applicants should hold an M.Sc. degree (for a junior scientist) and/or Ph.D. degree (for a senior/post-doctoral position) in bioinformatics, human-computer interaction, computer science, or related fields with excellent results and excellent English and French skills. As criteria for assessing the qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on previous projects, publications, and relevant clinical, human subjects studies or industrial experience (if any).


At this time, only applications from EU/Swiss candidates can be considered. 


Application Procedure

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically as one PDF file to Prof. Katarzyna Wac (katarzyna.wac@unige.ch). Please include:

  • Motivation letter including a summary of the planned research project in the first year and its match with the required responsibilities (1 page)
  • Detailed, up-to-date CV and publication list, including Google Scholar profile link and grant acquisition and management experience (especially for senior candidates)
  • Diplomas and transcripts of records (BSc, MSc, and Ph.D.)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g., portfolio, GitHub repository links
  • Full contact details (name, full affiliation, and email) of 3 relevant referees


The University of Geneva is committed to creating an inclusive work environment with a diverse workforce. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or age.



For specific information about the position, please contact Prof. Katarzyna Wac (katarzyna.wac@unige.ch)