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Congratulations to the Finalists!

We are thrilled to announce the finalists in the Mood Challenge for ResearchKit. Following Semi-Finalist Presentations last month, our judges have selected Aware Study and BiAffect as the two teams to receive $100,000 each and advance to the Finalist Incubation and Testing phase of the Challenge!

The Challenge, a New Venture Fund program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and powered by Luminary Labs, launched in April seeking proposals for ResearchKit studies that will further our understanding of mood and how it relates to our daily lives, health, and well-being.

In July, five semi-finalists received $20,000 and entered the Virtual Accelerator, which kicked off with a two-day in-person Boot Camp featuring experts in ResearchKit, iOS UX/UI, medical research, and psychology. Proposals aimed to bring fresh insights and capabilities around mood, biology, and social context to both researchers and users with new methods for mental health diagnostics, clinical care delivery, daily wellness tracking, and behavioral interventions.

The two finalists will spend the coming months developing their designs into prototypes to pilot with iPhone users. Next April, the finalists will submit their Round 3 Submissions, including a final report of preliminary learnings from user testing, data analysis, and plans for full development. One winner will be chosen to receive the $200,000 award and finalize their ResearchKit study for launch in the App Store.

“Aware Study and BiAffect are using unique mobile sensing capabilities to capture unprecedented and socially contextualized data while working toward predictive models of mood,” said Paul Tarini, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “These ResearchKit studies have the potential to transform our understanding of these conditions and improve millions of patients’ lives.”

Want to help? Learn more about Aware Study and BiAffect and sign up to try out the apps at moodchallenge.com.

Congratulations to the finalists:

Aware Study 
Aware aims to be the largest applied research study to assess mood and its relationship to PTSD and will seek to tailor insights to an individual’s context. The study lasts 28 days and asks participants to respond to surveys every week and perform two daily tasks, all while collecting data passively.

BiAffect
BiAffect is a system for understanding mood and neurocognitive functioning in bipolar disorder using keystroke dynamics, such as typing speed and errors, to track and predict mood episodes. Alteration in communication is one of the main, problematic symptoms of bipolar disorder. This study will unobtrusively monitor non-verbal speech/behaviors to improve our understanding of mood disorders and provide a means of predicting future mood fluctuations.

Semi-Finalist Presentations are Today!

Today, the five semi-finalists will convene at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey to present their Round 2 Submissions of designs for ResearchKit studies. The Mood Challenge judges will score each team based on the Challenge criteria and two finalists will be selected to receive $100,000 to develop their designs into prototypes to pilot with iPhone users.

Over the past six weeks, the semi-finalists participated in the Virtual Accelerator, which kicked off with a two-day in-person Boot Camp featuring experts in ResearchKit, iOS UX/UI, medical research, and psychology. Teams have been hard at work since Boot Camp, engaging our mentors as they’ve progressed their initial proposals into designs for ResearchKit studies.

Today’s opening remarks will be made by Steve Downs, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Sara Holoubek, CEO and Founder of Luminary Labs, among others.

Follow along on Twitter and stay tuned for the finalist announcement next month!

 

Meet the Semi-Finalists: Q&A with Mood Toolkit

This post is part of a special “Meet the Semi-Finalists” series, featuring Q&As with the five semi-finalists of the Mood Challenge for ResearchKit.

Our final “Meet the Semi-Finalists” post features Mood Toolkit, a ResearchKit study that will provide mental health researchers with a configurable toolkit to study daily emotional health and wellbeing through the ResearchKit framework. The study will combine biometric data from external sensors such as heart rate monitors, with user surveys and machine learning to generate and validate personalized insights and interventions to improve emotional health.

Mood Toolkit is one of five semi-finalists competing to become a finalist and receive $100,000 to develop their designs into prototypes to be piloted with iPhone users. Stay tuned for the finalist announcement in October!

Tell us about your team’s background.
The team leaders of Mood Toolkit are Tim Trull (Professor of Psychological Sciences, MU; studies mood, mood dysregulation, ambulatory assessment, addictions) and Yi Shang (Professor of Computer Science, MU; mobile computing, machine learning). Additional team members include Will Morrison (MU Computer Science), Sean Lane (Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences, Purdue), Nick Wergeles (MU Computer Science), Peng Sun (MU Computer Science), Zeshan Peng (MU Computer Science), and Luke Guerdan (MU Computer Science).

Why is this Challenge important to you? What inspired your proposal for a ResearchKit study?
We have worked as a team for four years on several projects targeting emotion dysregulation and addictions, building our own apps (Android), integrating sensor data, and conducting analyses. The Mood Challenge inspired us to build an app using ResearchKit, which we had not done previously. Many aspects of the ResearchKit platform allow us to address important questions and issues in the emotion and mood research field. We also used the opportunity to build an app that can be used by many other mood, emotion, and psychological researchers in their own studies.

What have been the biggest challenges and successes in developing your study thus far?
The biggest challenge has been to explore and determine the feasibility of some of our ideas. The ResearchKit platform allows for the collection of massive amounts of data from different channels, but one must keep in mind participant burden and acceptability. Our biggest success is developing some working prototypes and adding some design features that we were introduced to during Boot Camp and in consultation with experts.

You’ve entered the Virtual Accelerator phase, which includes expert mentorship and participation in a live Boot Camp. What’s the biggest insight you’ve uncovered through this process so far?
The importance of good design, participant engagement, and the power of ResearchKit.

Meet the Semi-Finalists: Q&A with MoodSync

This post is part of a special “Meet the Semi-Finalists” series, featuring Q&As with the five semi-finalists of the Mood Challenge for ResearchKit.

Our fourth “Meet the Semi-Finalists” post features MoodSync, a ResearchKit study that will identify how daily mood and social environments are associated with biological aging among family caregivers. This population is at high risk for mental and physical health problems caused by chronic emotional distress. By triangulating assessments of social interactions, mood and affect, and cell aging via saliva collections, MoodSync will improve our understanding of how caregivers can thrive under chronic stress.

MoodSync is one of five semi-finalists competing to become a finalist and receive $100,000 to develop their designs into prototypes to be piloted with iPhone users. Stay tuned for the finalist announcement in October!

Tell us about your team’s background.
Our team includes Elissa Epel, PhD, Wendy Mendes, PhD, Ashley Mason, PhD, Rashida Brown, MS, Eve Ekman, PhD, and Alexandra Crosswell, PhD. We are researchers at the University of California – San Francisco and the University of California – Berkeley. We hold appointments across several departments and centers, including the UCSF Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine, the UCSF Center for Health and Community and the UCSF Osher Center, and the UCB Department of Epidemiology.  We study how emotions affect daily behavior, relationships, and biological aging.

Why is this Challenge important to you? What inspired your proposal for a ResearchKit study?
We are inspired and excited about the opportunity to build a ResearchKit study in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and New Venture Fund because it has the potential for discoveries about how to utilize the power of our emotions to enhance well being and longevity. Our previous work suggests that caregivers, an underserved population with an invaluable societal role, are at much greater risk for psychological and physiological problems and accelerated biological aging, relative to non-caregivers. The ResearchKit platform will help us to untangle dimensions of emotional complexity, relationships, and biology, so as to identify the ideal targets for future interventions aimed at promoting well being.

What have been the biggest challenges and successes in developing your study thus far?
Our largest challenge to date is that we are eager to develop the best research platform possible to answer our research questions, yet we can see the sky is the limit. The ResearchKit platform is incredibly flexible and has so much to offer, and this highlights one of the most difficult aspects of the project: staying focused on our research question. We are working hard to ensure that we select the best fitting measurement tools, while not being distracted by the myriad possibilities that the ResearchKit platform has to offer.

You’ve entered the Virtual Accelerator phase, which includes expert mentorship and participation in a live Boot Camp. What’s the biggest insight you’ve uncovered through this process so far?
In learning how ResearchKit studies have been done so far, we have realized that formulating a study that places participant engagement and retention as the centerpiece is crucial. Ensuring a “sticky” and magnetic interface that compels the participant-user to interact with the app, and selecting a discrete data collection time period that is feasible, are top priorities for our team.