Portrait of Desney Tan

Desney Tan

General Manager, Microsoft Healthcare


I am General Manager of Microsoft Healthcare, which creates technologies that empower clinicians to improve health outcomes. Specifically, I am responsible for Microsoft’s clinical productivity tools, medical devices, and genomics (or more generally -omics) agenda. I also hold an affiliate faculty appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington.

My research interests include Human-Computer Interaction, Mobile Computing, and Healthcare. I spend large chunks of my time building technologies that digitize the world and human body in interesting ways and then applying signal processing and machine learning to make sense of it all. My work has been shipped in various versions of Windows and Office, the Microsoft Handwriting Recognition Engine and Tablet Input Panel, Xbox Kinect, and most recently the Microsoft Band.

I received my Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1996, after which I spent a couple of years building bridges and blowing things up in the Singapore Armed Forces. I later returned to Carnegie Mellon University, where I worked with Randy Pausch and earned my PhD in Computer Science in 2004.

I was honored as one of MIT Technology Review’s 2007 Young Innovators Under 35 for my work on brain-computer interfaces and a 2012 Kavli Fellow by the US National Academy of Sciences. I was named one of SciFi Channel’s Young Visionaries at TED 2009, as well as  Forbes’ Revolutionaries: Radical Thinkers and their World-Changing Ideas for my work on Whole Body Computing. I have served as Technical Program Chair for CHI 2008 as well as General Chair for CHI 2011. I sit on multiple journal editorial boards and serve as Editor-in-Chief for Foundations and Trends in HCI as well as the Springer HCI Series.

I am amazingly fortunate to have a family that supports (or at least tolerates) my crazy work habits, and it is great that my wife Angela and kids Ayden and Zachary are always there when I come up for air.