MD2K Annual Meeting Showcases Research, Sensors and Training

October 31, 2017—Research in mobile health (mHealth) is a multidisciplinary effort, and that is never more evident than when (over 70) students, faculty, and postdocs from 14 institutions come together at the University of Memphis to participate in the annual meeting of the Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K). The two-day meeting for 2018 was held October 24 – 25 at FedEx Institute of Technology (FIT). The meeting included presentations of research and training and concluded with a special event to provide career advice to new graduates.

Two of the many sensors showcased during the MD2K Annual Meeting were Motionsense HRV and EasySense, both designed by MD2K. MotionSense HRV, developed by MD2K Sensor Technologist Emre Ertin (Ohio State), is a wrist sensor that, among other things, measures heart rate variability, something previously measured with a chest band.

The other sensor, EasySense, was praised by Dr. William T. Abraham (Ohio State University), one of the nation's leading cardiologists and head of the team studying congestive heart failure, as technology that has the potential to become a gold standard in management of heart failure via non-invasive devices. EasySense, also developed by Ertin, allows clinicians to see not only lung fluid, but respiration and heart motion using radio frequency (RF) technology. Over the past year, EasySense has evolved from hospital use only to home-use by patients upon discharge. It uses ultra-wideband radio frequency to allow doctors to spot heart failure symptoms and treat them before a patient requires rehospitalization. The results of a successful pilot study were demonstrated at the meeting.

The meeting also witnessed the release and demonstration of the second version of MD2K's open-source infrastructure that unifies wearable sensors with a smartphone-based data collection and analytics software (mCerebrum), and a cloud-based data curation and big-data analytics software platform (Cerebral Cortex). Version 2, developed over the past year now allows mCerebrum to be installed in participants' personal Android phones; adds collection of smartphone calls, messaging, and app usage; increases the scalability by a factor of 20; makes it easy to quickly reconfigure for new studies; and incorporates dynamic updates. Deployed in ten different studies at nine locations, more than 100 gigabytes of labeled high-frequency mobile sensor data are being collected per day by the MD2K software. MD2K software uniquely supports the development and validation of models and algorithms for inferring markers of health, wellness, and productivity and their associated risk factors.

Once collected and curated, MD2K datasets will be available upon request for third party research. MD2K software is already available for free download at https://md2k.org/software.html.

Training the next generation of mHealth investigators is another important charge taken up by the MD2K Center. The meeting wrapped up with a Career Day session that gave graduate students a look at diverse career paths of several prominent and successful individuals in academia, industry, and government.

Panelists included Memphis' own President Dr. M. David Rudd, Dr. Eric Fain (formerly an executive with Abbott and St. Jude Medical), Dr. Ed Ramos (Program Director, National Institutes of Health), Dr. Susan Murphy (Professor of Statistics at Harvard and a member of the National Academies), Dr. Ida Sim (Professor of Medicine at UC-San Francisco and co-founder of Open mHealth) and Dr. Jim Rehg (Professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech).

Each panelist shared their personal story, discussing the events and decisions that led them to be where they are today. A common theme was the importance of communication skills — being able to express ideas both verbally and in writing — to maintain transparency in one's goals and achievements. They also emphasized the value of building connections and not being afraid to go in a different direction if one presents itself. The session was recorded and will be made available online at www.md2k.org.

The MD2K Center of Excellence is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee at the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology. It is directed by Dr. Santosh Kumar, the Lillian and Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Memphis. The Center is funded under the National Institute of Health's Big Data-To-Knowledge initiative. For more information on the MD2K Center and its research, please go to www.md2k.org.