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Ohio State to play key role in NIH collaborative to advance mobile health technologies

The rapidly growing field of mobile health, or mHealth, involves the use of portable devices to generate, share and store information to monitor and improve patient care.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a new biomedical technology resource center (BTRC), called the mHealth Center for Discovery, Optimization & Translation of Temporally-Precise Interventions (mDOT). The center will be headquartered at the MD2K Center of Excellence at The University of Memphis. The multidisciplinary team also includes leading researchers in artificial intelligence, mobile computing, wearable sensors, privacy, and precision medicine from The Ohio State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and The University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

One of the biggest drivers of the nation’s rising healthcare spending is providing care for patients with chronic diseases, many of which are linked to daily behaviors and exposures such as dietary choices, sedentary behavior, stress, and addiction. The mDOT Center will be a new national technology resource for improving people’s health and wellness. It will conduct cutting-edge AI research to produce easily deployable wearables, apps for wearables and smartphones, and a companion cloud system. mDOT’s innovative technology will enable patients to initiate and sustain the healthy lifestyle choices necessary to prevent and/or successfully manage the growing burden of multiple chronic conditions.

Emre ErtinErtin

“Researchers and industry innovators can leverage mDOT’s technological resources to create the next generation of mHealth technology that is highly personalized to each user, transforming people’s health and wellness,” said Santosh Kumar, Ph.D., mDOT lead investigator, director of MD2K Center of Excellence, and Lillian & Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence Professor in Computer Science at the University of Memphis.

The research activities are organized around three technology research and development projects: Discovery, Optimization and Translation. Ohio State Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Emre Ertin is leading mDOT’s Translation initiatives.

“In this research thrust, we will develop hardware, software, and computational techniques to bring privacy-aware, resource-efficient embedded intelligence support to wearables,” explained Ertin. These innovations will enable continuous, high-throughput, low-latency biomarker captures across wearable, mobile, and cloud platforms to support large scale and long-term research studies, and eventual real-life rollout.  

“Our technology will enable computation of novel biomarkers from next-generation sensors, making remote care more possible for patients who have traditionally required close involvement of clinicians,” he added.

mobile health sensors developed by Emre Ertin's teamMotionSense HRV sensors developed at Ohio State's SENSE Lab (left) track behavioral gestures and stress response. SenSE patch (right) uses multimodal measurements and embedded algorithms to inform on heart and lung function.

To ensure mDOT’s innovative technology can be used by scientists to solve real-world problems, the center will be working closely with more than a dozen other federally-funded projects to engage in joint technology development, testing, and large-scale real-life deployment. To fuel mHealth technology innovation in the market, mDOT will establish a new industry consortium to provide access to mDOT’s latest research and seek feedback to inform its ongoing projects.

The mDOT Center will be administered by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).

“The mDOT Center will be the first BTRC focused on developing innovative mHealth technologies,” said mDOT’s program officer, Tiffani Lash, PhD, director of the NIBIB program in Connected Health. “It is positioned to empower scientists to discover, personalize and deliver temporally-precise mHealth interventions and treatments, ensuring that health and wellness tools are delivered at the right moment, via the right personal device and is optimized to have the most influence.”

This is the third University of Memphis-led wearable sensor research project in which Ertin has been a key investigator. Previously he contributed expertise to the NIH-supported National Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K) and a collaborative project to develop and test a system of mobile sensors and software to objectively assess everyday job performance.