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Center for Empathy and Technology


Mission Statement

Our mission is to advance research and education at the intersection of technological innovation, empathy and compassion, and professional practice.


About Us

Organizationally situated under the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion (TDSI), the Center for Empathy and Technology (Tech Center) advances programs to enhance empathy and compassion in physicians-in-training who are at the vanguard of an era of patient empowerment and rapidly emerging health innovations.  The Center is specifically dedicated to understanding how emerging technologies promote or undermine empathy, compassion, and wellbeing. 

 The Tech Center also seeks to develop a social science in medicine collaborative that will accelerate research at the intersection of empathy and technological innovation at UC San Diego. Through the work of this Center, the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion endeavors to serve as a national and international source of leadership on the empathic design and use of new health innovations.


Research Focus & Current Projects

The Tech Center conducts and supports projects that use advanced technology to design interventions for empathy and compassion, as well as projects that investigate the impact of technology on individuals and/or social interactions, with an emphasis on physicians and patient-physician interactions.  The initial focus of the TECH Center will be on medical students, physicians, and the healthcare setting.  Currently active projects are listed below:

Teaching at the Intersection of Empathy and Technology. This study aims to understand how the training of medical students could be enhanced to better prepare the next generation to respond effectively and compassionately when faced with rapid advances in technology, especially when such advances alter relationships with patients. While the primary focus is in the context of medical education, we will also be seeking insights from other professional fields.

 Machine Learning to Identify Social Signals of Compassion. In collaboration with the unBIASED Project, we hope to identify social signals of compassion in the context of the patient-physician interaction that are detectable by machine learning. In addition to being a valuable research tool, future applications may include the development of real-time interventions to enhance compassionate care.


Opportunities for Collaboration

Seed Grant Program

Under the Seed Grant Program, the Tech Center seeks to support projects that identify sources of empathy and compassion fatigue related to the rapid pace of scientific and technological innovation in professional environments. Funded projects will inform the development, evaluation, and iteration of evidenced-based approaches for addressing obstacles to compassion in these environments. Areas of focus related to empathy and compassion include, but are not limited to, patient-physician communication, physician well-being, professional burnout, depersonalization, and emotional fatigue. The application window for the Fall 2022 funding cycle is now open.



Simple Acts of Compassion for Teachers

This resource offers two simple actions faculty can adopt to better support their students in class.


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