Alberta Innovates Postdoctoral Fellowships Program

The Alberta Innovates Postdoctoral Fellowships (AI PDF) Program is to position postdoctoral fellows for high-impact careers in Alberta’s health research and innovation (R&I) ecosystem. Alberta Innovates’ Postdoctoral Fellowship program represents a collaborative effort to:

  • Cultivate a world-class research and innovation system;
  • Drive the discovery, development, and use of innovations that have high potential to improve the health of citizens while creating opportunity for economic diversification in Alberta; and
  • Increase the competitiveness of Alberta as a destination for training in digital and data-enabled health innovation.

AI’s investment in the AI PDF Program enhances Alberta’s knowledge workforce in areas with high potential to diversify the economy and improve the health and well-being of citizens. To ensure the Program builds capacity in areas of strategic importance to the province, the following areas are prioritized:

Priority 1 - Digital & Data-Enabled (D&DE) Health Research
Leveraging advances in connected devices, computational intensity, and data generation to enhance health research. The following types of projects are of strong relevance:

• Combining large-scale and heterogeneous sources of data (e.g., clinical, biological, or omic data) to deeply characterize individuals and diseases, or enable analyses of complex biological, social, and environmental factors,
• Deploying machine learning to predict health outcomes (e.g., hospital readmission, future deterioration) or enhance diagnostic and intervention research,
• Exploring ways to enhance health and wellness monitoring and decision-making through connected devices
• Leading-edge projects involving virtual and augmented reality, mobile-health applications, big data analytics, connected devices, sensors, wearables, 3D printing, and advanced computer simulation and modelling, or
• Using digital tools and connectivity to optimize and expand the effectiveness and reach of clinical research.

Note: the following do not represent advanced engagements with D&DE technologies: conducting interviews via video conferencing software, running online surveys, or using applications like Stata, SPSS, or MATLAB to run common statistical tests on sparse, static, or poorly relational data sets.
Priority 2 - Advancing D&DE Tools and Methods

Developing advanced approaches to unlock greater value from health information. The following types of projects are relevant:

• Developing highly automated processes to collect and transform health-related data from connected devices, sensors, wearables, smart phone apps, diagnostic tools, or relevant databases,
• Advancing health-related data linkage or simulation tools and approaches,
• Training software algorithms to learn from and act on health-related data,
• Enhancing the retrieval and annotation of clinically relevant information from connected devices or health records,
• Enhancing use case development for employing computation and automation (e.g., Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning) to improve health care or promote health and wellbeing, or
• Addressing practical, regulatory, or ethical issues related to the collection and use of personal health information for research and innovation.

Priority 3 - Health Technology Acceleration

Activities to increase the rate at which discoveries and promising academic outputs (e.g., IP, data assets, processes) are transformed into commercially viable health products or services. The range of relevant activity includes:

• Advancing early-stage health research that demonstrates high commercial potential,
• Accelerating the commercialization of health technologies through the early validation phase (e.g., proof of concept testing, prototype development),
• Carrying out feasibility studies, implementation projects, or clinical trials of innovative health technologies, or
• Exploring ways to enhance health technology development in Alberta (e.g., developing and testing tools
and supports for innovators, addressing regulatory challenges, and improving understandings of talent gaps and opportunities).

Note: due to the need to build capacity in Health Technology Acceleration overall, this priority area is not restricted to Digital & Data-Enabled (D&DE) technologies.

Priority 4 - Technology & Data-Enabled Health System Transformation

Advancing the use of health technologies to enhance health and wellness outcomes, health system sustainability, or health care. This is restricted to:

• Exploring the use of D&DE technologies for prevention, to collect and distribute health information more effectively and efficiently, or to support the delivery of innovative models of care,
• Conducting a systematic evaluation (e.g., Health Technology Assessment or Health Economic Evaluation) to address health system evidence needs regarding use of a health technology (excluding pharmaceuticals, but not limited to D&DE technologies),
• Advancing the use of computation and automation (e.g., Natural Language Processing) in Health Technology Assessments and/or evidence synthesis,
• Building capacity within the health system to identify and adopt D&DE technologies with the greatest potential to improve health and wellbeing,
• Assessments of governance structures and approaches for more integrated and successful deployment of D&DE technologies in the health system, or
• Implementing or scaling up use of a promising D&DE technology with demonstrated potential to improve health and wellbeing.

Note: developing clinical guidelines is not a strong fit for this priority area, unless it involves the use of D&DE technologies (either as part of a clinical intervention or in enhancing the generation of evidence for systematic evaluations).