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CSE and UConn Health Faculty Awarded Grant for Treating Depression through Mobile Technology

Professor Bing Wang is the lead principal investigator on a new $1 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and Department of Health and Human Services to develop a system that can help provide personalized treatment data for people suffering from depression and that is informed by innovative technology. The co-PI’s on the project are Jinbo Bi, professor and associate head, Alexander Russell, professor of computer science and mathematics, and Jayesh Kamath, associate professor of psychiatry at UConn Health.

According to the article in UConn Today, the system the researchers will develop, DepWatch, will use mobile health technologies and machine learning to provide clinicians with objective, timely, and accurate assessments of depression symptoms. These assessments will help inform clinicians’ decisions by providing them with more data about how patients are reacting to their current treatment regimes.

DepWatch collects data from smartphones and wristbands without any user interaction. The system will also allow users to input ecological momentary assessments (EMAs). EMAs involve users entering data about their symptoms and experiences as they happen. This eliminates possible problems with clinicians having to rely on patients’ ability to remember how they were feeling at a particular moment weeks later at a checkup appointment. DepWatch can also track medication adherence and safety information.

All this information will be fed into machine learning models that will develop a weekly assessment of patient symptoms and predict their responses to treatment over time. Clinicians can then use this data to make better-informed decisions about what kind of treatment will work best for their patients.

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