General 1 March 2019
Amir Marashi is currently an industry PhD candidate at Western Sydney University. We
caught up with him to find out his reasons for choosing an industry PhD instead of a more
traditional path for his Doctoral studies.
Why did you decide to do an industry PhD rather than a standard PhD?
I believe the choice between these two types of PhDs depends on the goal of starting a PhD
in the first place. As an engineer, I was fascinated with all possible practical applications of
machine learning and AI and decided to start a PhD to learn the required skills for the jobs in
this field. But I had no intention of getting involved with pure research or preparing for a
career as a university professor. I wanted to do something which had application in the
commercial world. The generous scholarship was also a strong incentive.
What problem are you working on?
I use linked data from different sources to generate a predictive model that can predict future
healthcare costs and health conditions. The application of such a model could be in data
driven decision making. Policy makers, for example, can estimate the effect of interventions
on increasing the level of physical activity on healthcare costs and select the proper target
population for the intervention based on the simulation results predicted by the model.
What next for you once your PhD has been completed?
Application of AI for healthcare is booming. Algorithms for better diagnostics, tools designed
for hospitals and doctors that can facilitate different tasks and precision medicines are some
broad examples of different areas that use AI to improve healthcare. Considering the
experience I gained working on health data and the healthcare system, I hope to continue
my career as a data scientist in healthcare.
What advice would you give someone contemplating an industry PhD in digital health?
An iPhD can bring structure to the whole path of the journey and provides more
interdisciplinary skills. It is very outcome focussed and working in industry at the same time
enables a student to see the practical application of their research. On the other hand, a
conventional PhD gives the candidate more flexibility and more experience on the academic
side of the research. The choice between these two depends on the goal of doing a PhD.
DHCRC will be offering a large number of industry-based PhD scholarships through its
partner universities over the coming months as new projects commence.
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