Meet the Mood Challenge Mentors

Having recently returned from the Innovators’ Boot Camp, the semi-finalists in the Mood Challenge are now busy preparing for Semi-Finalist Presentations at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on September 7. During this Virtual Accelerator phase, a panel of industry-leading mentors will provide individualized advice and guidance to the semi-finalists as they refine and iterate their research proposals into designs for ResearchKit apps. The mentors represent a broad spectrum of expertise, spanning mental health, statistical research methods, app design, ResearchKit development, and data science.

We are thrilled to welcome our mentors among the many talented individuals taking part in the Mood Challenge. Let’s meet them!

Edward Cessna
Edward Cessna is a veteran software engineer and co-author of the Getting Started with ResearchKit book. He has managed the development effort for multiple ResearchKit-based applications for leading research institutions. In addition to ResearchKt, his background includes large systems and embedded cryptographic software.

Edward’s areas of expertise include ResearchKit; Software Engineering; iOS Development; and Software Security.

Dr. Matthew Goodwin
Dr. Matthew S. Goodwin is an interdisciplinary assistant professor at Northeastern University with joint appointments in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and College of Computer & Information Science, where he is a founding and key faculty member of a new doctoral program in Personal Health Informatics and Director of the Computational Behavioral Science Laboratory. He is also a visiting assistant professor and the former director of Clinical Research at the MIT Media Lab. Goodwin serves on the Executive Board of the International Society for Autism Research, is on the Scientific Advisory Board for Autism Speaks, and has adjunct associate research scientist appointments at Brown University.

Matthew’s areas of expertise include Personal Health Informatics; Ambulatory Psychophysiology; Digital Signal Processing; Machine Learning; and Modeling Interpersonal Time Series Data.

Patrick Grennan
Patrick is a Data Scientist at One Medical Group, where he leads their data science R&D. His work covers all points of the business, from clinical data to operations data, to marketing data. His current interests include time series forecasting, epidemiology, and clinical search & discovery.

Patrick’s areas of expertise include Machine Learning (Recommendation Engines; Time Series Forecasting); Clinical NLP; and High throughput data pipelines.

Dr. Eli Leibowitz
At Yale, Eli’s lab studies behavioral and neurobiological systems relevant to the etiology, course, and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders. They employ a range of methodologies to identify and research key biomarkers in clinical populations. They focus on markers of childhood disorders and on biomarkers of relevant parental and maternal behaviors.

Eli’s areas of expertise include Treatment of Child and Adolescent Anxiety; Clinical Trials; Neurobiology of Anxiety and Related Disorders; Technological Innovation for Study and Treatment of Mental Health Problems; and Parenting and Caregiving.

Matt Luedke
Originally from the Chicago area, Matt Luedke develops on iOS and Android at Exygy, a B-corp agency in San Francisco designing and building apps and websites for purpose-driven clients in civic, educational, and health technology. He is a writer and editor at and is always writing something new on his personal blog at

Matt’s areas of expertise include Native iOS in Swift and Objective-C; Native Android; Location-aware apps; Mobile software design patterns; and Tutorial writing.

Tamar Nachmany
Tamar Nachmany is a software engineer and iOS app builder. She is thrilled to bring her experience in iOS engineering, her background in bioethics, and her passion for socially impactful mobile apps to the 2016 Mood Challenge. As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, Tamar studied the potential for technology to support self-care and health education and published a paper on the way Tumblr is used as a women’s health education tool in the Johns Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal in 2013. She later participated in the 2013 Blueprint Health Accelerator as an intern for a genomics startup. She currently works on starting conversations between friends and strangers on the Messaging team at Tumblr where she works as an iOS engineer. She lives in New York City.

Tamar’s areas of expertise include iOS engineering; iOS user experience design; Bioethics; Community building; and Social media.

Dr. Mashfiqui Rabbi
Mashfiqui Rabbi is a postdoctoral fellow at University of Michigan, working with Professor Susan Murphy, Ambuj Tewari and Predrag Klasnja. He is developing mobile health interventions that are just in time, adaptive and actionable. He recently received a PhD from the Information Science department at Cornell University. His PhD advisor was Professor Tanzeem Choudhury. In his PhD, Mashfiqui developed MyBehavior, which is the first mobile application to provide personalized health recommendations by understanding user behavior from sensor data collected in a mobile phone.

Mash’s areas of expertise include Mobile sensing; Behavior change; and Machine learning.

Dr. Michele Tugade
Michele M. Tugade, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Vassar College, where she directs the Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory. Her research focuses on the function of positive emotions in the coping process; the mechanisms that promote resilience in the face of stress and adversity; and emotion-related processes associated with health and well-being. She has served on research grant panels for NASA, NSF, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Dr. Tugade received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health and is an elected member of the International Society for Research on Emotions.  Her research has been funded by NIMH and NSF.  She has recently published the Handbook of Positive Emotions (Guilford Publications).

Michele’s areas of expertise include Ecological Momentary Assessments; Behavioral analyses; and Psychophysiological measurement procedures.

A Peek Inside Innovators’ Boot Camp

Last week, the Mood Challenge semi-finalists convened for the Innovators’ Boot Camp, a hands-on two-day session designed to help them turn their proposals into Round 2 submissions of designs for ResearchKit studies.

An incredible group of experts in ResearchKit, iOS UX/UI, medical research, and psychology led the semi-finalists through a series of sessions on topics including best practices for the use of ecological momentary assessments, a crash course in ResearchKit capabilities, the importance of security and privacy in research data, and a discussion on big picture thinking called Delighting in the Possible. Throughout the Boot Camp, the semi-finalists were guided through several rapid prototyping exercises to quickly test new ideas with mentors and other teams.

“It’s been this iterative agile process. Every time we come up with something, being able to share with all the mentors and then quickly change has accelerated our designs and sparked new questions,” said David Haddad of Aware Study.

Boot Camp kicks off the Virtual Accelerator period, during which semi-finalists will also have access to expert mentorship as they continue to refine their studies. We would like to thank our Virtual Accelerator mentors, who have graciously donated their expertise to the Challenge.

In September, the five semi-finalists will present their designs to the judges at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey to decide two finalists. Stay tuned for the finalist announcement in October! Sign up to receive Challenge updates here.

Announcing the Mood Challenge Semi-Finalists

We are thrilled to announce the five semi-finalists in the Mood Challenge for ResearchKit, an open source software framework designed by Apple. Each semi-finalist has proposed innovative new ways to use sensors in iPhone to help researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. Proposals aim 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.

Following review by an expert Review Panel, the Mood Challenge semi-finalists were selected by an esteemed panel of judges with expertise across psychology, health, and technology. Each semi-finalist will receive $20,000 and enter the Virtual Accelerator, which includes an in-person Boot Camp to develop their proposals into designs with support from experts in research, app design, and ResearchKit. In October, two finalists will be selected to receive $100,000 and develop their designs into prototypes that will be piloted with iPhone users.

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.

“Despite decades of study, the relationship between mood and the many social and economic factors that affect it remains unclear,” said Paul Tarini, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The semi-finalists’ proposals leverage the revolutionary potential of ResearchKit to help advance research in this field and, ultimately, build a Culture of Health in America.”

Congratulations to the semi-finalists:

Aware Study
The Aware Study will measure mood and posttraumatic stress symptoms among the millions of adults living with PTSD. The study will develop and validate mobile methods, including passive data collection, active tasks, and linguistic analysis, while exploring how social and contextual factors such as connectedness and activity levels can be used to rapidly detect changes in posttraumatic stress symptoms.

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.

Mood Circle
Mood Circle will improve on mood detection and modeling using passive data tracking and self-reports on mood by incorporating social networking. Users of Mood Circle will enlist their closest companions to track their mood and contribute data to this shared platform, improving the experience and data models for each user while investigating social influences on mood and behavior.

MoodSync 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.

Mood Toolkit
Mood Toolkit 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.

We look forward to seeing how the semi-finalists evolve their studies in this next phase of the Challenge. Stay tuned for the finalist announcement in October!

Meet the Judges

With judging now underway, we are thrilled to highlight our esteemed panel of judges, who draw from diverse backgrounds in psychology, health, and technology.

We received 75 thoughtful and impressive proposals and selecting only 5 semi-finalists is no easy task. On behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and New Venture Fund, we extend a huge thank you to the judges for their time, effort, and contribution to the Mood Challenge and for helping transform mood research.

Read on to learn more about the judges and stay tuned for the semi-finalist announcement in July! Sign up to receive Challenge updates here.


University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory, Northeastern University

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, is University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory (IASLab) at Northeastern University, with research appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Barrett’s research focuses on the nature of emotion from both psychological and neuroscience perspectives, and more recently has developed a broad, integrative approach to the functional architecture of the brain. Earlier in her career, she was an early adopter and innovator of experience-sampling methods. Dr. Barrett is the recipient of numerous research awards and in 2007 she received the prestigious NIH Director’s Pioneer Award for transformative research on emotion. Her research has been continuously funded by NIH and NSF for almost 20 years, and is currently supported by the Mind and Life Institute, the Army Research Institute, and the Templeton Foundation. Dr. Barrett is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science, as well as several other scientific societies. In addition to publishing over 180 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, Dr. Barrett has authored a White Paper on the science of emotion for the National Research Council, she has testified before Congress in support of basic behavioral research funding and she has edited five volumes, including the Handbook of Emotion. Her first authored book, How emotions are made: The new science of mind and brain, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017.


CEO & Founder, THREAD Research 

Jeff Frazier is the CEO and founder of THREAD Research, a pioneering mHealth medical research company that has launched 3 of the first 8 apps that leveraged Apple’s ResearchKit. Most recently, THREAD Research partnered with Apple and Johns Hopkins University to launch EpiWatch®, the first mobile seizure tracker for patients with epilepsy with a synced Apple Watch® app.

Jeff’s aspirations in mobile research are lofty; he has challenged his team to collaborate with the world to answer every human biological question by 2030. Jeff and his team are hard at work developing the fastest technologies and methods possible in order to surface those human biological truths. Often, Jeff can be found ranting about the need for more collaboration in research, claiming, “This work is too important to humanity for us to not share what’s working with one another!”


Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Johnson is an internationally-respected developer and evaluator of clinical information technology. His research interests have focused on bridging the chasm between our current healthcare system and the optimal use of health information technology to support care and improve patient safety. His specific areas of expertise are in medication management technologies and implementation, computer-based documentation strategies, and clinical decision support. Recent projects include leading evaluation of the AHRQ and Tennessee-funded State and Regional Demonstration Project for Health Information Exchange in West Tennessee, AHRQ funding to evaluate the impact of e-prescribing decision support on pharmacy callbacks, and a RWJF-funded effort to develop state-of-the-art applications utilizing personal health records, under their Project HealthDesign Initiative. Dr. Johnson also developed RxStar, Vanderbilt’s e-prescribing system.

Kevin Patrick

Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the UCSD and Director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at the Qualcomm Institute/Calit2

Kevin Patrick, MD, MS is Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and Director of the Center for Wireless and Population Health Systems at the Qualcomm Institute/Calit2. He is Director of the Health Data Exploration project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine for 20 years (1994-2013), and has served on the Secretary’s Council for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Armed Forces Epidemiology Board. His research, supported by the NIH, NSF, CDC, RWJF, explores how to use mobile, home and social technologies to measure and improve the health of individuals and populations.


CEO and Co-Chairman, Health 2.0

Indu Subaiya is the CEO and Co-Chairman of Health 2.0, the leading conference and media platform company that promotes, showcases and catalyzes new technologies in healthcare through a worldwide series of conferences, code-a-thons, prize challenges, and more. Her guests have included Chelsea Clinton, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Tim O’Reilly, Aneesh Chopra and hundreds of other health, tech, and media luminaries. Indu has moderated panels and hosted conferences around the world as Health 2.0’s innovator community has grown to over 110 cities globally.

Regarded as an engaging interviewer and thought leader on health technology issues, she has moderated panels at SXSW Interactive, The Clinton Health Matters Activation Summit, and USC/Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Indu also serves on advisory committees with the Office of the National Coordinator, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Health Data Consortium.

Prior to Co-Founding Health 2.0, she was Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Physic Ventures, Vice President of Healthcare and Biomedical Research at Gerson Lehrman Group, and Director of Outcomes Research at Quorum Consulting, Inc. Indu holds an MD from Stony Brook University School of Medicine at the State University of New York, an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University.