The University of Memphis is poised to take a leap into a new frontier. The National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded the University with a 5.9 million-dollar grant to establish the mHealth Center for Discovery, Optimization & Translation of Temporarily Precise Interventions (mDOT). The center will use biomedical technology to monitor or detect biological changes in the human body. These changes will be evaluated to assist people in living a healthy lifestyle and prevent diseases. 

NIH is providing this grant so that the University is able to build a new research center that focuses on chronic disease management. The mDOT team will include leading researchers in artificial intelligence, mobile computing, wearable sensors, privacy and precision medicine from the University of Memphis, along with Harvard University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). 

“The mDOT Center at the University of Memphis will be the first BTRC (biomedical technology research center) focused on developing innovative mHealth technologies,” said Tiffani Lash, PhD, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) program in Connected Health and mDOT’s program officer, in a press release. “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.” 

The mDOT team will utilize telehealth research, which is the use of remote healthcare by means of telecommunications technology, to assist individuals in managing chronic health conditions. Using mHealth and telehealth programs will allow researchers to use various technology, such as apps and cloud-based connected health platforms for sharing data and findings with other researchers as a preventative measure. 

The chronic diseases that the collaborating schools will focus on include addictive behavior, sedentary behavior, cardiovascular diseases, oral health and mental health. In addition to this collaboration, researchers with mDOT will be taking part in six service projects aimed at testing and developing new health technologies. 

“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, PhD, mDOT’s lead investigator and the director of MD2K Center of Excellence and Lillian & Morrie Moss Chair of Excellence Professor in Computer Science at the University of Memphis, in the release. 

Previous successes for programs such as these include, “The Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K), headquartered in the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, was established in 2014 by a grant from NIH under its Big-Data-To-Knowledge (BD2K) initiative. It has developed mobile sensor big data technologies to improve health and wellness. MD2K’s open-source software platforms for smartphones and the cloud are used across the nation to conduct scientific studies.” 

Previous success, as well as grants for future research, demonstrate that the University of Memphis is thought of as a leading research institution. Medicine and research are adapting and utilizing technological innovations. With this latest grant, the University will help lead the way in providing cutting edge research data to improve the lives of many people who are suffering. 

This grant is the first step, and Dr. Rudd, president at the UofM, has shown his full support of programs such as these. 

“This latest award not only appropriately recognizes the expertise and impact of Dr. Kumar and his team, the importance of their life-changing work, but also the remarkable progress of the University of Memphis as a national research university,” he said.

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