The Population Informatics Research Group applies informatics, data science, and computational methods to the increasingly large digital traces available to advance public health, social science, and population research. This research group is a joint effort between UNC-CH and Texas A&M (TAMU). We currently collaborate with the Renaissance Computing Institute, Carolina Population Center, The Odum Institute, the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the School of Social Work at UNC and the School of Public Health and the Department of Computer Science at Texas A&M. We specialize in data science, KDD (Knowledge Discovery and Datamining), data integration, visualization, decision support systems, health informatics, computational social science, and privacy. UNC-CH Population Informatics Research Group Website
Population Informatics News !
- Recent Publications
- Leroux, T.*, Kum, H.-C., Dabney, A., Wells R. Military Deployments and Mental Health Utilization among Spouses of Active Duty Service members. Military Medicine (2016). In Print.
- Kum, H.-C., Stewart, C.J.*, Rose, R.A. & Duncan, D.F., Using big data for evidence based governance in child welfare, Children and Youth Services Review (2015), Volume 58, November 2015, Pages 127-136, ISSN 0190-7409, doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.09.014.
- Cilenti, D., Kum, H.-C., Wells, R., Whitmire, T., Goyal, R., and Hillemeier, M. (2015). Changes in North Carolina Maternal Health Service Use and Outcomes among Medicaid-enrolled Pregnant Women during State Budget Cuts. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. Mar-Apr 2015 21(1):pp 208-213.
- Hillemeier, M., Domino, M., Wells, R., Goyal, R., Kum, H.-C., Cilenti, D., Whitmire, T., Basu, A. (2015). Effects of Maternity Care Coordination on Pregnancy Outcomes: Propensity-Weighted Analyses. Maternal and Child Health Journal. Jan 2015 19(1) pp121-127.
- Recent Presentations
- Invited Presentation at the Data Linkage: Techniques, Challenges and Applications
- 2016 International population data linkage conference: Linking Data – Improving Lives
- Poster presented at NIMH conference 23rd NIMH Conference on Mental Health Services Research
- Seminar ISEN681: Social Genome: Putting Big Data to Work for Population Informatics
- Invited Keynote at the First International Workshop on Population Informatics for Big Data Co-located with the 21st ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
- Foundational Publications
- Kum, H.C., Krishnamurthy A., Machanavajjhala A., and Ahalt S. Social Genome: Putting Big Data to Work for Population Informatics. IEEE Computer Special Outlook Issue. Jan 2014
- Kum, H.C., Krishnamurthy A., Machanavajjhala A., Reiter M., and Ahalt S. Privacy Preserving Interactive Record Linkage (PPIRL). J Am Med Inform. Assoc. doi:10.1136/amiajno-2013-002165
- Kum, H.C., and Ahalt, S. (2013). Privacy by Design: Understanding Data Access Models for Secondary Data, American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) joint summits on translation science: clinical research informatics
- Proposal submitted to PCORI Methods : Privacy Preserving Interactive Record Linkage (PPIRL) via Information Suppression
Computational Social Science is an emerging research area at the intersection of health science, social sciences, computer science, and statistics in which quantitative methods and computational tools are applied to big data about people to answer social science questions. Broadly speaking there are two approaches as follows:
- Population Informatics : The systematic study of populations via secondary analysis of massive data collections (termed “big data”) about people. In particular, we focus most on improving health outcomes for a population and the data science approach which is about generating actionable information from raw data. Another important aspect of population informatics is Public health informatics which is more about how to best utilize the information generated using data science to improve public health.
- Simulations (i.e., Agent Based Modeling (ABM) ) : Discover useful information and knowledge about our society through simulating the actions and interactions of autonomous agents (individuals and groups/organizations). Many of the parameters to model autonomous agents come from Population Informatics research.
Our Social Genome : A Federated Data System of Digital Data about People
New scientific opportunities are emerging as a result of increasingly effective data organization, access, and usage. Many fields of study have been transformed to a new level by new tools and data infrastructure. For example, the analysis of DNA sequence data has transformed medical research. We need to push the frontier of social sciences by doing the same with digital data available about our society; this will enable us to gain fundamental insights into the many facets of our society. A key source of information about all aspects of our society resides in government administrative data and various private operational data. From the day we are born until our death, most all of our activities leave footprints in various digital data systems. Birth, marriage, and death certificates are filed with the government, education records remain with departments of public instruction, and traces of employment can be found in the ESC UI (Employment Security Commission Unemployment Insurance) wage data. Without a doubt, a well-integrated data system that can encompass much of the data systems will hold the footprints of our society, our social genome. The two main hurdles to building such a system to transform the social sciences are (1) privacy concerns and the laws in place to protect individual confidentiality, and (2) the physiology of administrative data, which is fragmented, short-lived, and sometimes has questionable reliability. Our group’s research focuses on resolving these two barriers to building a federated data system of digital data about people for research. Once resolved, we can build the social genome data infrastructure that could finally allow us to move toward understanding how current policies play out in our society and how to make informed policies using information and knowledge gathered from these digital traces. Together, our digital traces collectively capture the footprints of our society. Like the human genome, the social genome data has much buried in the massive almost chaotic data. If properly analyzed and interpreted, this social genome could offer crucial insights into many of the most challenging problems facing our society (i.e. affordable and accessible quality healthcare, economics, education, employment, and welfare) For more details …