Toussaint named Director of Center for Digital Health

Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives in the School of Engineering Kimani Toussaint, Jr., has become the new director for the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health (CDH), effective June 1, 2023. Toussaint succeeds Dr. Megan Ranney, the founding director of the CDH, who is leaving Brown to become the new dean of the Yale School of Public Health.

CDH LogoThe CDH began three years ago as a collaboration between the Brown Division of Biology and Medicine, Brown School of Public Health, and Lifespan. Its primary mission has been to create digital health innovations that improve lives, and to achieve this, the CDH’s goals have included facilitating partnerships between stakeholders in the digital health ecosystem, namely, researchers, clinicians, and industry, and carrying out research on innovative digital health solutions for the acute care setting. In addition, the CDH has brought together a diverse set of expertise areas such as adolescent health, artificial intelligence, behavioral health, depression, social media, and substance use. 

In assuming the directorship of the CDH, Toussaint says that he aims to add an engineering lens to digital health. 

“At its core, digital health is at the intersection of technology, health, and policy. We have an opportunity to bring more technological innovations from engineering such as novel optical sensors, machine vision, and computational techniques to real-world problems in digital health.” 

“The CDH is already uniquely set up mostly as a partnership between researchers and practitioners in both medicine and public health,” he said. “Adding Brown’s School of  Engineering, which also incorporates design and entrepreneurship, really strengthens the potential impact that CDH could have on our society and beyond.”

Prior to Toussaint’s new role as director, he served on the leadership committee of the CDH. Last year in this capacity, Toussaint collaborated with Megan Ranney and Tyler Wray from the School of Public Health, to launch Brown’s first professional certificate on Digital Health Innovation. Administered through Brown’s School of Professional Studies, the program is now working with its second cohort. 

In the same year, the School of Engineering also collaborated with the CDH to host two workshops on home-health technologies. The workshops were primarily sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and brought together a broad array of participants that included those in engineering, computer science, medicine, and public health.

Toussaint joined Brown’s School of Engineering in 2019 and directs the laboratory for Photonics Research of Bio/nano Environments (PROBE lab). His research interests include innovations around health diagnostic technologies that can be brought to every home, and the development of novel optical physiological sensors that work equitably for all populations. His work on equitable pulse oximetry has been featured in several popular press and media outlets including CNN, NPR, STAT+, NBC News Now, and Forbes.