Univ. of Memphis to lead Mobile Sensor Data research

The University of Memphis is joining forces with 10 other universities to form a National Center of Excellence to conduct a Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K) project that will examine physical, biological, behavioral, social and environmental factors that contribute to health and disease risk and uncover ways to more easily gather, analyze and interpret health data generated by mobile and wearable sensors.
 
“The main goal of this center is not to develop the sensors but to use the data collected by various sensors, including some very novel sensors that our team has already developed, to find innovative ways or methods that can be used to process the data,” says U. of M. professor of computer science Dr. Santosh Kumar, who will oversee the project. “Ultimately the goal is to produce reliable, usable, trustable, explainable health care decisions.”
 
The four-year study is funded by a $10.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, and the research team consists of computer science, engineering, statistical and biomedical researchers from Cornell Tech, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Ohio State, Rice, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Memphis, the University of Michigan, and Open mHealth (a non-profit organization).
 
The project will focus on two health conditions with high mortality risk: congestive heart failure (CHF) and smoking, with the hopes of reducing CHF patient hospital readmissions and preventing relapse in abstinent smokers. Wearable sensors will track movement, heart rate and respiratory patterns in heart failure patients, and researchers will use smart glasses to record visual stimulation like advertising or seeing others smoke along with movement sensors to study habitual smokers.
 
“We picked congestive heart failure because it is responsible for the highest cause of readmissions to hospitals, and it a very urgent condition. If we succeed this will be the first device that is fully non-invasive and which will be able to predict congestive heart failure hopefully a week in advance, so there’s a chance of a very high impact,” says Kumar. “The second example we picked also a tremendous impact because smoking it the highest cause of mortality, one in five deaths in the U.S. and around the world occur due to smoking.”
 
The MD2K method is also expected to eventually be used to study other complex diseases like asthma, substance abuse and obesity.
 
Dr. J. Gayle Beck, U. of M. Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence in Clinical Psychology, will direct the Center’s training core. 
 
By Michael Waddell

 
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