Antwi Akom, Ph.D.

Professor & Founding Director The Social Innovation and Universal Opportunity Lab UCSF & SFSU

Dr. Antwi Akom is Professor and Founding Director of the Social Innovation and Universal Opportunity Lab ( the first trans-institutional, trans-disciplinary, translational digital health research lab between the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco State University (SFSU).  The SOUL Lab focuses on technology-driven research in social and spatial epidemiology, Big Data, GIS, data visualization, health-informatics, neighborhood social determinants of health, community-generated data, and outcomes research. Using real world population health & real-time community-generated data, our team of medical doctors, data scientists, biostatisticians, sociologists, health economists, race-ethnicity-gender CPBR experts, and software engineers use innovative and more traditional methods to produce robust results for all of our robust research projects.  In addition to being the Founding Director of a digital health research lab, Dr. Akom is also a Faculty affiliate with UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations. Dr. Akom has a comprehensive background and formal training in geographic information systems (GIS) spatial analysis techniques and other visual methods to display and better understand health patterns, inequities, and implications for intervention at the neighborhood level. Dr. Akom’s particular expertise is in understanding neighborhood-level determinants of health using participatory technologies, health-informatics, social and spatial epidemiology, Big Data, and community generated data. As a national expert in these fields, he has deep public health experience with vulnerable populations and have developed and launched a mobile, mapping, and SMS health platform called Streetwyze which has been recognized by the Obama administration and named by PolicyLink as one of the 10 top new health equity technology tools that can advance researchers and policymakers understanding of the social, behavioral, and biological determinants of health with members of vulnerable populations.  In addition to being named as an Innovation Fellow for the White House opportunity project, Dr. Akom is currently a Multiple PI on a NIMHD R25 focused on providing research experiences for UCSF and SFSU faculty participants in Big Data, participatory technologies, and health disparity research (MPI Dr. Leticia Marquez-Magana); a Co-investigator on a NIH U54 Grant aimed at enhancing the diversity of the Biomedical research workforce by transforming teaching and research environments at UCSF and SFSU (PI’s Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo UCSF; and a Co-Investigator on an NIH R01 aimed at creating a new personal health library platform that enables patients with diabetes or pre-diabetes to import their personal health data to a mapping platform that will provide private, personalized views of health-promoting and health-inhibiting community factors in their neighborhoods that can be overlaid with EHR records (PI’s Lyles and Sakar).  Dr. Akom has over a decade of experience as a mentor for 40 postdoctoral fellows, 300 predoctoral students, and 10 junior faculty, in a wide variety of disciplines including health equity, Big Data, participatory technology, and making Biomedical research relevant to local communities, and he has repeatedly been nominated for teaching and mentoring awards.