MD2K Researchers contribute to mHealth Training Institute

Several researchers from the MD2K Center participated recently in the 2015 mHealth Training Institute (mHTI), a week-long boot camp held in late August at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The institute, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIDA.OBSSR), brought together established mHealth researchers and an invited group of 35 mHealth scholars chosen from more than 170 applicants. The institute’s students included 30 Ph.D.-level participants and 5 Ph.D. students or postdocs affiliated with the MD2K Center.

The multi-disciplinary group of scholars represented 10 different disciplines and 27 institutions from across the country.

The 35 scholars were divided into five groups, each with two faculty mentors. A total of 23 faculty, 12 core and 11 visiting, were on hand for the week-long program.

In addition to Dr. Vivek Shetty, the UCLA-based PI of the mHTI grant and Training Director for the MD2K, the mHTI involved other MD2K faculty including the MD2K Director Dr. Santosh Kumar (University of Memphis), Dr. Susan Murphy (University of Michigan) of the MD2K Sensor Information-to-Knowledge team; Dr. James M. Rehg (Georgia Tech), the MD2K deputy director; Dr. Mani Srivastava ( UCLA), lead of the MD2K Computation team, and Dr. Ida Sim (UCSF) who leads MD2K’s Consortium team. Additioinally, the Institute benefited from the expertise of MD2K Program Officers Drs. Wendy Nielsen and Richard Conroy.

Students heard a total of 22 presentations, all of which were videotaped and will eventually be made available online. Presentations focused on teaching participants how to work collaboratively on mHealth projects, which often blend the talents of researchers from both the health sciences and data sciences.

Each of the 5 multidisciplinary teams  presented a capstone project at the end of the week and continued to collaborate online after the mHTI ended.

The institute’s effectiveness was evaluated by UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).

Initial findings from CRESST indicated the mHTI was viewed as “highly worthwhile,” and almost all participants thought it was a good opportunity to establish connections that could lead to future collaborations, as well as be exposed to new ideas and perspectives.

More than half of the participants reported they had made 6-10 new peer connections during the week and at least 3-5 faculty or mentor connections.

Some of the feedback comments:

  • “Although I have engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations before, it was extremely helpful to be placed in a setting where my own area of specialty is just one of many. I felt that my own prior training in interdisciplinary teams was validated and extended by this institute, and I gained new confidence and interest in building such a team for my projects in the near future.”
  • “Getting to know the other scholars and working on teams from such a wide variety of disciplines was invaluable. Also, the discussion around how to work across behavioral sciences and engineering was very helpful.”
  • “I find it difficult to forge meaningful connections with others during typical conferences. MHTI provided the opposite--I got a chance to engage meaningfully with others and work on a tangible project over the course of several days. This was the most gratifying part of the experience.”

In addition to NIH, the mHTI was co-sponsored by MD2K, with industry sponsorship from Procter & Gamble and UCLA Health.

Next year’s mHTI has tentatively been scheduled for early August at UCLA. The application process is expected to begin in February 2016 and will be announced at MD2K.org.

You can learn more about the mHTI here.

Copyright © 2017 MD2K. MD2K is supported by the National Institutes of Health Big Data to Knowledge Initiative (Grant #1U54EB020404)

Team: Cornell Tech, GA Tech, Harvard, U. Memphis, Northwestern, Ohio State, Open mHealth, UCLA, UCSD, UCSF, UMass, U. Michigan, Utah, WVU