Student Spotlight: Quynh Pham

December 15, 2015

We attract the brightest minds fulfilling their academic pursuits in an environment that fosters growth and innovation.

Quynh Pham is one of our most recent additions to the team. As a PhD candidate from the University of Toronto’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, she collaborates closely with the PHIT team under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Cafazzo. Her research examines novel, leaner, and more agile evaluation methodologies that can keep up with the rapid pace of mHealth innovation.

She recently received the Mental Health Foundation’s Janice Sinson Award for her work with Flowy, a mobile game that helps alleviate anxiety



1. What is your research focus?

I basically want to figure out how to evaluate eHealth interventions, specifically mHealth apps, at a scale and pace that is appropriate for this emerging technology. We’ve been borrowing dated evaluation methodologies for too long – it can take up to 17 years from initial research to full implementation of a behavioural intervention, and honestly we just don’t have that kind of time. I believe we owe it to the transformative technologies we’re creating to make sure that the research support can keep up.


2. How did you hear about the Centre, and what prompted you to reach out?

I found out about the Centre through serendipitously stumbling onto a Youtube video of the TEDxToronto Talk that Dr. Joe Cafazzo (now my supervisor!) did in 2013. In his talk, Dr. Cafazzo spoke about how the Centre was making mHealth apps for chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma, and stated that in creating these apps, he wanted all of us to have great stories – not just stories of us living, but stories of us living very well. How can you hear something like that and not deeply believe in it, or want to dedicate a solid 4+ years of your life towards making these stories happen for everyone?


3. What are some challenges you foresee as you embark on your PhD journey?

It’s hard to introduce a new way of doing something in a field with deep roots. Research is basically synonymous with randomized controlled trials, and trying to come up with something that can compete with such a behemoth of a methodology is daunting.


4. Would collaboration with the team here help you tackle some of these challenges?

Absolutely! I can’t wait to learn from and one day work alongside the developers, designers, human factors analysts and so many other exciting disciplines that make up the Centre’s interdisciplinary culture.


5. What has been your favourite moment since you joined the Centre?

I used to sit at my desk in my old office in London and daydream about what it would feel like to start a PhD and be part of the Centre. Then the day came when I was sitting near the front windows of the Centre and taking a call with my bosses in London – it felt quite dramatic for a fairly insignificant moment, but boy was it great.