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MHTech Center News and Meeting Information

MHTech collaborator, Dr. Edward Wang, is awarded an NIA R21 grant

"The NIA has selected Design Lab’s Edward Wang, who directs the Ubiquitous Data and Computing Lab, to receive NIH R21 funding for his work with Co-investigator Eric Granholm, Director of UCSD’s Center for Mental Health Technology (MHTech), to develop a smartphone app that can screen for early signs of cognitive decline indicative of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). An NIH R21, also known as the Exploratory/Development Grant, provides support in the early and conceptual stages of a project’s development. As part of a national push towards combating the debilitating effects of AD, the National Institute of Aging looked towards funding novel ways to screen for AD through the use of digital technologies."

The full article can be found HERE.

Dr. Garudadri featured in thisweek@ucsandiego

Katie Ismael wrote an article that featured MHTech Board of Director Member, Dr. Hari Garudadri,  for thisweek@ucsandiego. Katie wrote:

"Gift to Support Research into Links between Hearing Loss, Isolation and Dementia

Harinath Garudadri and team.

Funds provided by Wrethinking, the Foundation—established by wireless technology pioneers—will continue a mission at Qualcomm Institute to use technology to help improve live

From developing the first portable cell phone technology to establishing the first cell phone service to meet the needs of seniors, wireless technology pioneers Arlene Harris and Martin Cooper have always innovated technology and technology-enabled solutions to connect and serve people around the globe.

The pair continues their mission to use technology to help improve quality of life with a generous gift to UC San Diego through their foundation, Wrethinking, the Foundation, to study the links between the social and physical isolation associated with hearing loss and dementia.

Technology to improve hearing aids and strengthen social interactions

With a price tag in the thousands of dollars and limited to no coverage by insurance providers, effective hearing aids are out of reach for many people. As a result, they may avoid social situations with family and friends. An increasing body of research points to possible links between the loneliness that stems from hearing loss-related isolation and cognitive decline.

multi-sensor hearing aid
OSP's multi-sensor hearing aids, peripheral

The gift supports the expansion of The Open Speech Platform (OSP), a project led by Qualcomm Institute research scientist Harinath Garudadri that offers a suite of open-source technologies to hearing health researchers, giving them the ability to share findings and spur innovation through collaboration. The OSP is supported by the Qualcomm Institute, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

With Harris and Cooper's support, Garudadri and his team are extending OSP hardware tools including the processors, microphones and motion sensors as well as a full stack software including innovative signal processing algorithms to help doctors and scientists quantify a patient's verbal interactions and physical activities during daily living. The result is the recently launched Project Psi-Fi that builds upon OSP for an integrated physiological and psychological health benefit to patients. Psi-Fi is now also funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

"There isn't a platform that currently enables researchers from different disciplines to study what we call multifactor ailments—ailments that often have more than one cause," Garudadri said. "Project Psi-Fi will build on our work with OSP to look at physical activity, as well as sensory, motor (physical) and cognitive impairments, independently and in combination with one another. That by itself is an engineering accomplishment."

A multi-disciplinary research approach

Project Psi-Fi is a collaboration between researchers across UC San Diego, including doctors and specialists at the School of Medicine, as well as data scientists and engineers with the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute and the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Significant among these collaborations is joint work with Rajesh Gupta, a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and director of UC San Diego's Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute (HDSI).

hearing aid component with chipset
OSP's hearing aids research platform built with smartphone chipsets

"The OSP opened up a new programming platform for the researchers to devise new algorithms and embedded software such as unikernels to experiment with ways to adapt hearing aid to individual needs. Psi-Fi vastly improves the platform to enable dynamic feedback and adaptation to physiological and cognitive needs in changing environments," Gupta said.

"What's really wonderful about this project is it is an outstanding example of finding ways to take breakthroughs in one field, say the processors that run our smartphones, and use them to advance another field and help many people in the process." said Ramesh Rao, director of the Qualcomm Institute. "It's also important to note the cross-disciplinary nature of this project, which is why it is very much at home within the research and engineering communities at UC San Diego."

Dr. Eric Granholm, a professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine, said, "There is emerging evidence that hearing loss may contribute to limited social interactions, reduced physical activity and ensuing perception of loneliness—a risk factor for Alzheimer's and other cognitive disorders. Yet, assessment of social activity and perceived loneliness is challenging, as retrospective self-reports are not accurate. OSP would provide new objective metrics to monitor the amount and quality of social interactions and perceived loneliness using ecological momentary assessments."

"This collaboration between Qualcomm Institute, the School of Medicine and HDSI will build a talent pool of students and researchers for a new generation of devices, software, machine learning algorithms and clinical protocols that vastly improve quality of life," said Gupta."

MHTech Center Seminar Series

The next MHTech Center Seminar is currently on hold. Please check back for the next seminar date.

2019-2020 Interdisciplinary Mental Health Technology Seed Grant Awards

We are very excited to announce that two UCSD investigators have been awarded seed grant funding from the MHTech Center and the University of California, San Diego Office of Research Affairs for the support of innovative interdisciplinary research projects! The awardees are Dr. Jyoti Mishra and Hari Garudadri. Please see the Seed Funding page for descriptions of their projects.

Congratulations and we look forward to seeing the results of your exciting projects!

Past Events

The MHTech Center sponsored the UCSD Electrical and Computer Engineering'sDesign Competition this year. Students focused on meeting the needs of patients struggling with Parkinson's disease by developing innovative ideas to make the daily needs of these patients more manageable. Some of the ideas that were explored, included: creating a "smart" pill container that sends daily reminders to patients on their mobile devices to take their pill, creating an application on a phone alerting patients when obstacles are near, have multiple sensors controlled via website to alert patients to environmental cues, and more. Our students showcased their designs on June 1st, 2019. 

The EPRP was included in the 2018-2019 Electrical and Computer Engineering brochure. The brochure can be found on the EPRP Internship page.

Dr. Elizabeth Murnane, a Postdoctoral Scholar in Computer Science in Stanford University, presented a talk on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Her talk focused on her work on building self-assessment tools, passive sensing techniques and personalized informatics and intervention systems for measuring pain, alertness, and behavior change. Dr. Murnane is being recruited by the UCSD Design Lab in partnership with the Department of Psychiatry. 

Edward Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Ubiquitous Computing Lab at the University of Washington seeks to address real-world medical needs. On April 22, 2019, he presented a talk discussing how he has enabled smartphones to perform physiological measurements comparable to their medical device counterparts. Edward has taken the extra mile to test out these devices to actual users and patients in the villages of South America. 

Dr. Chun-Nan Hsu, an associate adjunct professor from the Department of Biomedical Informatics from the University of California, San Diego, presented a talk titled "What Natural Language Processing (NLP) can do for Mental Health" on March 6, 2019 from 12-1 pm at the Stein Clinical Building, Conference room #148. The talk reviewed the state-of-the-art capabilities of NLP and discuss how it may help in research and applications for mental health. 

Dr. Min-Sup Shin, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Department of Psychiatry from Seoul National University, and Visiting Scholar to the MHTech Center presented a talk titled "Mental Health Enhancement Programs Using the Internet & Smart-tablet" on February 4, 2019 at the Department of Psychiatry in UC San Diego. Dr. Shin is the first clinical psychologist to develop computerized neuropsychological tests including developing an internet based version of the CBT for those with OCD and ADHD in Korea.