2019-2020 MHTech Seed Funding Awardees

The Center for Mental Health Technology at UC San Diego is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019-2020 Interdisciplinary Mental Health Technology Seed Grant Proposals. The MHTech Center is a new campus hub for interdisciplinary research on the application of technological solutions to address mental health problems. Through sponsorship by the Office of Research Affairs, the Seed Funding program is designed to support early stage research related to diagnosis, treatment, and/or prevention of mental health problems. The primary goal of this program is to stimulate projects and partnerships between faculty from engineering and mental health departments. Recipients Drs. Makale and Mishra bring diverse ideas, resources, and personnel from across departments of the Schools of Medicine and Engineering to bear on pressing mental health issues in our society.

"Pilot study for a wearable rTMS system to suppress opioid cravings"

PI: Dr. Milan Makale, UCSD Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences; David Gough, Bioengineering; Peter Asbeck, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Sherry Abbassi, Electrical Engineering; Vincent Leung, UCSD Cal-IT; Mark Stambaugh, Cal-IT; Carla Marienfeld, Psychiatry; Gregory Polston, UCSD Pain Clinic, Anesthesiology 

Project: While cravings associated with opioid use disorder can be controlled with drugs, many patients are either not candidates for this therapy, have difficulties with compliance, or prefer non-drug options. A potential therapeutic alternative may be a portable repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) device. rTMS has been reported to reduce substance cravings, and in a controlled study heroin users had a significant reduction in cravings after just a single session of rTMS. Our teams' ultimate goal is to engineer and build a wearable (WrTMS) device that: (1) provides broader and convenient access to rTMS, (2) is much less intrusive than existing clinical rTMS devices, and (3) is safe for home, office, or sober living environments. As key first steps towards optimizing our WrTMS device, we will, (1) conduct a pilot study with rTMS administered for several days to determine the lowest system power needed to reduce opioid cravings, and (2) build a benchtop WrTMS prototype. Success of this pilot project may lead to a device that holds the promise of significantly impacting the current opioid crisis. 

"Personalizing Mental Health Assessments & Therapeutics for Mood Disorders"

PI: Dr. Jyoti Mishra, Psychiatry, NEATLabs; Sujit Dey, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mobile Systems Design Lab; Dhakshin Ramanathan, Psychiatry, NEATLabs

Project: College-age youth are especially vulnerable to mood disorders during this crucial time of transition to full independence, with one-in-three college students experience some form of diagnosable mental disorder. Based on emerging advances in clinical and translational neuroscience integrated with machine learning engineering, we propose a two-stage personalized mental health project in college-age youth with mood disorders. Stage 1 will utilize scalable assays of brain function and cognition along with quantified assessments of daily life behaviors of sleep, physical activity and stress to develop precision diagnosis algorithms using N-of-1 personalized modeling of mood disorders. Stage 2 will use these models to deliver multimodal interventions personalized to the neurobiology and lifestyle of the patient.