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New Faculty Q & A with Dr. Yunyu Xiao

Dr. Yunyu Xiao is an assistant professor of population health sciences in the Division of Health Informatics. She received her MPhil in social work and social administration from the University of Hong Kong and her PhD in social work from New York University. Previously, Dr. Xiao was an adjunct professor at the NYU Silver School of Social Work and an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Social Work.

What got you involved in health informatics? 

Dr. Yunyu Xiao

I have always been obsessed with the power of data and technology in medical care, especially in mental health and suicide prevention, where multidisciplinary research is urgently needed. My journey began when I was working at the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention as a master’s student at the University of Hong Kong. There was an emphasis on evidence-based research and intervention. During my doctoral training at New York University, I had the opportunity to lead data-driven studies using large, representative, longitudinal data, and advanced statistical methods. These experiences have led to my research trajectories of using health data science methods to address health disparities in suicide. I am looking forward to pushing the boundaries of applying health informatics research to improve mental health service and suicide prevention.

Tell us about your research.

My interdisciplinary research examines the social determinants of health that lead to health disparities in suicidal behaviors and mental health, particularly for minority populations. I have extensive experience leveraging large, longitudinal, nationally representative, complex datasets. My existing funded projects integrate health informatics, social work, psychiatry, public health, and community-based mental health interventions, especially among racial/ethnic minority populations. Special merit has been granted to my innovative work applying data science methodologies to address suicide via a public health approach. My goal is to build novel mental health interventions and suicide prevention technologies by applying the Predictive, Personalized, Preventive, and Participatory (4P) principle. As such, we can more effectively reduce the burden of mental illness and suicidal behaviors and advance health equity.  

What expertise do you bring to this role?

I am uniquely positioned to conduct multidisciplinary studies with my past and current experiences in health informatics, social work, psychology, public health, and economics. Through my collaborative research agenda, I have developed a skill set to design and conduct rigorous mental health-related studies and innovative methods that address the social determinants of health. My multi-country training background also facilitates my ability to work with world-renowned research teams in suicide prevention and intervention internationally.

What brings you to Weill Cornell Medicine?

I am very excited to join Weill Cornell Medicine, specifically the Division of Health Informatics, because it fits my research interests and goals. The institution has a rich network of cross-discipline collaborations with investigators in health data science, psychiatry, and clinical settings. I will work with Dr. Jyotishman Pathak on NIH/NIMH-funded projects and will develop my independent program of research, particularly in mental health services, by integrating cutting edge information science and technology in healthcare and community settings. Weill Cornell Medicine also serves a uniquely diverse population. I am interested in designing culturally tailored mental health and suicide prevention programs that serve the unique needs of vulnerable populations 

What are your other interests?

I am a big fan of creative work. Some activities I enjoy include playing the violin, photography, food dish design, jogging, swimming, painting, calligraphy, and writing scripts for sci-fi films. I am looking forward to enhancing the boundaries of aesthetics into health informatics and technology in mental health!

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