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  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on April 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , LiDAR, Technology to improve rockfall analysis on cliffs could save money lives, U Washington   

    From U Washington: “Technology to improve rockfall analysis on cliffs could save money, lives” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    April 11, 2017
    Jennifer Langston

    1
    This LiDAR image of a rock slope on Alaska’s Glenn Highway shows the “kinetic energy” of the slope, with red indicating a higher hazard from rockfalls.Matthew O’Banion/Oregon State University

    Pacific Northwest engineers have developed a new, automated technology to analyze the potential for rockfalls from cliffs onto roads and areas below, which should speed and improve this type of risk evaluation, help protect public safety and ultimately save money and lives.

    Called a “rockfall activity index,” the system is based on the powerful abilities of light detection and ranging, or LIDAR technology. It should expedite and add precision to what’s now a somewhat subjective, time-consuming process to determine just how dangerous a cliff is to the people, vehicles, roads or structures below it.

    This is a multimillion-dollar global problem, experts say, of significant concern to transportation planners.

    It’s a particular concern in the Pacific Northwest with its many mountain ranges, heavy precipitation, erosion of steep cliffs and unstable slopes, and thousands of roads that thread their way through that terrain. The evaluation system now most widely used around the world, in fact, was developed by the Oregon Department of Transportation more than 25 years ago.

    The new technology should improve on that approach, according to researchers who developed it from the University of Washington, Oregon State University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Findings were just published in Engineering Geology.

    “Transportation agencies and infrastructure providers are increasingly seeking ways to improve the reliability and safety of their systems, while at the same time reducing costs,” said Joe Wartman, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington, and corresponding author of the study.

    “As a low-cost, high-resolution landslide hazard assessment system, our rockfall activity index methodology makes a significant step toward improving both protection and efficiency.”

    The new approach could replace the need to personally analyze small portions of a cliff at a time, looking for cracks and hazards, with analysts sometimes even rappelling down it to assess risks. LIDAR analysis can map large areas in a short period, and allow data to be analyzed by a computer.

    “Rockfalls are a huge road maintenance issue,” said co-author Michael Olsen, an associate professor of geomatics at Oregon State University.

    “Pacific Northwest and Alaskan highways, in particular, are facing serious concerns for these hazards. A lot of our highways in mountainous regions were built in the 1950s and 60s, and the cliffs above them have been facing decades of erosion that in many places cause at least small rockfalls almost daily. At the same time traffic is getting heavier, along with increasing danger to the public and even people who monitor the problem.”

    The study, based on some examples in southern Alaska, showed the new system could evaluate rockfalls in ways that very closely matched the dangers actually experienced. It produces data on the “energy release” to be expected from a given cliff, per year, that can be used to identify the cliffs and roads at highest risk and prioritize available mitigation budgets to most cost-effectively protect public safety.

    Tens of millions of dollars are spent each year in the U.S. on rock slope maintenance and mitigation.

    “This should improve and speed assessments, reduce the risks to people doing them, and hopefully identify the most serious problems before we have a catastrophic failure,” Olsen said.

    The technology is now complete and ready for use, researchers said, although they are continuing to develop its potential, possibly with the use of flying drones to expand the data that can be obtained.

    This research was supported by the UW-based Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium, the National Science Foundation and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Co-authors are Lisa Dunham, a UW graduate in civil and environmental engineering now at McMillen Jacobs Associates in Seattle; graduate assistant Matthew O’Banion at OSU; and Keith Cunningham, research assistant professor of remote sensing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

    For more information, contact Joe Wartman at wartman@uw.edu or 206-685-4806.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:49 pm on April 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Slow slipping of Earth’s crust, U Washington   

    From U Washington: “Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth’s crust” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    March 28, 2017
    Hannah Hickey

    1
    A GPS station near Mount St. Helens in September 2014.Mike Gottlieb/UNAVCO

    Stock traders have long used specialized trackers to decide when to buy or sell a stock, or when the market is beginning to make a sudden swing.

    A new University of Washington study finds that the same technique can be used to detect gradual movement of tectonic plates, what are called “slow slip” earthquakes. These movements do not unleash damaging amounts of seismic energy, but scientists are just beginning to understand how they may be linked to the Big One.

    A new technique can quickly pinpoint slow slips from a single Global Positioning System station. It borrows the financial industry’s relative strength index , a measure of how quickly a stock’s price is changing, to detect slow slips within a string of GPS observations.

    The paper was published in December in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth.

    “I’ve always had an interest in finance, and if you go to any stock ticker website there’s all these different indicators,” said lead author Brendan Crowell, a UW research scientist in Earth and space sciences. “This particular index stood out in its ease of use, but also that it needed no information — like stock volume, volatility or other terms — besides the single line of data that it analyzes for unusual behavior.”

    The study tests the method on more than 200 GPS stations that recorded slow slips between 2005 and 2016 along the Cascadia fault zone, which runs from northern California up to northern Vancouver Island.

    “Looking at the Cascadia Subduction Zone — which is the most-studied slow slip area in the world — was a good way to validate the methodology,” Crowell said.

    The results show that this simple technique’s estimates for the size, duration and travel distance for major slow slip events match the results of more exhaustive analyses of observations along the fault.

    Discovered in the early 2000s, slow slips are a type of silent earthquake in which two plates slip harmlessly past one another over weeks or months. In Cascadia the slipping runs backward from the typical motion along the fault. A slow slip slightly increases the chance of a larger earthquake. It also may be providing clues, which scientists don’t yet know how to decipher, to what is happening in the physics at the plate boundary.

    Regular earthquake monitoring relies on seismometers to track the shaking of the ground. That doesn’t work for slow slips, which do not release enough energy to send waves of energy through the Earth’s crust to reach seismometers.

    Instead, detection of slow slips relies on GPS data.

    “If you don’t have much seismic energy, you need to measure what’s happening with something else. GPS is directly measuring the displacement of the Earth,” Crowell said.

    At GPS stations, the same type of sensors used in smartphones are secured to steel pipes that are cemented at least 35 feet (about 10 meters, or three stories) into solid rock. By minimizing the noise, these stations can detect millimeter-scale changes in position at the surface, which can be used to infer movement deep underground.

    2
    Top: The eastward movement along the Cascadia fault (top), calculated relative strength index (middle), and slow-slip event probability (bottom) for a GPS station on southern Vancouver Island.Brendan Crowell/University of Washington

    Using these data to detect slow slips currently means comparing different GPS stations with complex data processing. But thanks to the efforts of stock traders who want to know quickly whether to buy or sell, the new paper shows that the relative strength index can detect a slow slip from a single one of the 213 GPS stations along the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

    The initial success suggests the method could have other geological applications.

    “I want to be able to use this for things beyond slow slip,” Crowell said. “We might use the method to look at the seismic effects of groundwater extraction, volcanic inflation and all kinds of other things that we may not be detecting in the GPS data.”

    The technique could be applied in places that are not as well studied as the Pacific Northwest, where geologic activity is already being closely monitored.

    “This works for stations all over the world — on islands, or areas that are pretty sparsely populated and don’t have a lot of GPS stations,” Crowell said.

    In related research, Crowell has used an Amazon Catalyst grant to integrate GPS, or geodetic, data into the ShakeAlert earthquake alert system. For really big earthquakes, detecting the large, slow shaking is not as accurate for pinpointing the source and size of the quake. It’s more accurate to use GPS to detect how much the ground has actually moved. Tracking ground motion also improves tsunami warnings. Crowell has used the grant to integrate the GPS data into the network’s real-time alerts, which are now in limited beta testing.

    Co-authors of the new paper are Yehuda Bock at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Zhen Liu at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The research was funded by NASA and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    You can help many citizen scientists in detecting earthquakes and getting the data to emergency services people in affected area.

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC WallPaper

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:38 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , U Washington   

    From U Washington: “Tackling resilience: Finding order in chaos to help buffer against climate change” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    March 29, 2017
    Michelle Ma

    1
    Lotus flowers on a delta island on the outer reaches of the Mississippi delta, which is in danger of drastically shrinking or disappearing. The islands are actually quite resilient, as seen in part by the vegetation growth. Britta Timpane-Padgham/NWFSC

    “Resilience” is a buzzword often used in scientific literature to describe how animals, plants and landscapes can persist under climate change. It’s typically considered a good quality, suggesting that those with resilience can withstand or adapt as the climate continues to change.

    But when it comes to actually figuring out what makes a species or an entire ecosystem resilient ― and how to promote that through restoration or management ― there is a lack of consensus in the scientific community.

    A new paper by the University of Washington and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center aims to provide clarity among scientists, resource managers and planners on what ecological resilience means and how it can be achieved. The study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to examine the topic in the context of ecological restoration and identify ways that resilience can be measured and achieved at different scales.

    “I was really interested in translating a broad concept like resilience into management or restoration actions,” said lead author Britta Timpane-Padgham, a fisheries biologist at Northwest Fisheries Science Center who completed the study as part of her graduate degree in marine and environmental affairs at the UW.

    “I wanted to do something that addressed impacts of climate change and connected the science with management and restoration efforts.”

    Timpane-Padgham scoured the scientific literature for all mentions of ecological resilience, then pared down the list of relevant articles to 170 examined for this study. She then identified in each paper the common attributes, or metrics, that contribute to resilience among species, populations or ecosystems. For example, genetic diversity and population density were commonly mentioned in the literature as attributes that help populations either recover from or resist disturbance.

    Timpane-Padgham along with co-authors Terrie Klinger, professor and director of the UW’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, and Tim Beechie, research biologist at Northwest Fisheries Science Center, grouped the various resilience attributes into five large categories, based on whether they affected individual plants or animals; whole populations; entire communities of plants and animals; ecosystems; or ecological processes. They then listed how many times each attribute was cited, which is one indicator of how well-suited a particular attribute is for measuring resilience.

    2
    The Kissimmee River in central Florida. This ecosystem-scale restoration project began two decades ago and is used as an example in the study. South Florida Water Management District

    “It’s a very nice way of organizing what was sort of a confused body of literature,” Beechie said. “It will at least allow people to get their heads around resilience and understand what it really is and what things you can actually measure.”

    The researchers say this work could be useful for people who manage ecosystem restoration projects and want to improve the chances of success under climate change. They could pick from the ordered list of attributes that relate specifically to their project and begin incorporating tactics that promote resilience from the start.

    “Specifying resilience attributes that are appropriate for the system and that can be measured repeatably will help move resilience from concept to practice,” Klinger said.

    or example, with Puget Sound salmon recovery, managers are asking how climate change will alter various rivers’ temperatures, flow levels and nutrient content. Because salmon recovery includes individual species, entire populations and the surrounding ecosystem, many resilience attributes are being used to monitor the status of the fish and recovery of the river ecosystems that support them.

    The list of attributes that track resilience can be downloaded and sorted by managers to find the most relevant measures for the type of restoration project they are tackling. It is increasingly common to account for climate change in project plans, the researchers said, but more foresight and planning at the start of a project is crucial.

    “The threat of climate change and its impacts is a considerable issue that should be looked at from the beginning of a restoration project. It needs to be its own planning objective,” Timpane-Padgham said. “With this paper, I don’t want to have something that will be published and collect dust. It’s about providing something that will be useful for people.”

    No external funding was used for this study.

    Download the spreadsheet to find the best resilience measures for your project (click on the second file in the carousal titled Interactive decision support table)

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:56 am on February 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , U Washington, Using (MRI) to study the brains of infants who have older siblings with autism   

    From U Washington: “Predicting autism: Researchers find autism biomarkers in infancy” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    February 15, 2017
    No writer credit

    By using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the brains of infants who have older siblings with autism, scientists were able to correctly identify 80 percent of the babies who would be subsequently diagnosed with autism at 2 years of age.

    Researchers from the University of Washington were part of a North American effort led by the University of North Carolina to use MRI to measure the brains of “low-risk” infants, with no family history of autism, and “high-risk” infants who had at least one autistic older sibling. A computer algorithm was then used to predict autism before clinically diagnosable behaviors set in. The study was published Feb. 15 in the journal Nature.

    This is the first study to show that it is possible to use brain biomarkers to identify which infants in a high-risk pool — that is, those having an older sibling with autism — will be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, at 24 months of age.

    2
    Annette Estes, left, plays with a child at the UW Autism Center.Kathryn Sauber

    “Typically, the earliest we can reliably diagnose autism in a child is age 2, when there are consistent behavioral symptoms, and due to health access disparities the average age of diagnosis in the U.S. is actually age 4,” said co-author and UW professor of speech and hearing sciences Annette Estes, who is also director of the UW Autism Center and a research affiliate at the UW Center on Human Development and Disability, or CHDD. “But in our study, brain imaging biomarkers at 6 and 12 months were able to identify babies who would be later diagnosed with ASD.”

    The predictive power of the team’s findings may inform the development of a diagnostic tool for ASD that could be used in the first year of life, before behavioral symptoms have emerged.

    “We don’t have such a tool yet,” said Estes. “But if we did, parents of high-risk infants wouldn’t need to wait for a diagnosis of ASD at 2, 3 or even 4 years and researchers could start developing interventions to prevent these children from falling behind in social and communication skills.”

    People with ASD — which includes 3 million people in the United States — have characteristic social communication deficits and demonstrate a range of ritualistic, repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. In the United States, it is estimated that up to one out of 68 babies develops autism. But for infants with an autistic older sibling, the risk may be as high as one out of every five births.

    This research project included hundreds of children from across the country and was led by researchers at four clinical sites across the United States: the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, UW, Washington University in St. Louis and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Other key collaborators are at the Montreal Neurological Institute, the University of Alberta and New York University.

    3
    Stephen Dager.Marie-Anne Domsalla

    “We have wonderful, dedicated families involved in this study,” said Stephen Dager, a UW professor of radiology and associate director of the CHDD, who led the study at the UW. “They have been willing to travel long distances to our research site and then stay up until late at night so we can collect brain imaging data on their sleeping children. The families also return for follow-up visits so we can measure how their child’s brain grows over time. We could not have made these discoveries without their wholehearted participation.”

    Researchers obtained MRI scans of children while they were sleeping at 6, 12 and 24 months of age. The study also assessed behavior and intellectual ability at each visit, using criteria developed by Estes and her team. They found that the babies who developed autism experienced a hyper-expansion of brain surface area from 6 to 12 months, as compared to babies who had an older sibling with autism but did not themselves show evidence of autism at 24 months of age. Increased surface area growth rate in the first year of life was linked to increased growth rate of brain volume in the second year of life. Brain overgrowth was tied to the emergence of autistic social deficits in the second year.

    4
    MRI technician Mindy Dixon and Stephen Dager review a magnetic resonance spectroscopic image of a child’s brain chemistry.University of Washington

    The researchers input these data — MRI calculations of brain volume, surface area, and cortical thickness at 6 and 12 months of age, as well as sex of the infants — into a computer program, asking it to classify babies most likely to meet ASD criteria at 24 months of age. The program developed the best algorithm to accomplish this, and the researchers applied the algorithm to a separate set of study participants.

    Researchers found that, among infants with an older ASD sibling, the brain differences at 6 and 12 months of age successfully identified 80 percent of those infants who would be clinically diagnosed with autism at 24 months of age.

    If these findings could form the basis for a “pre-symptomatic” diagnosis of ASD, health care professionals could intervene even earlier.

    “By the time ASD is diagnosed at 2 to 4 years, often children have already fallen behind their peers in terms of social skills, communication and language,” said Estes, who directs behavioral evaluations for the network. “Once you’ve missed those developmental milestones, catching up is a struggle for many and nearly impossible for some.”

    Research could then begin to examine interventions on children during a period before the syndrome is present and when the brain is most malleable. Such interventions may have a greater chance of improving outcomes than treatments started after diagnosis.

    “Our hope is that early intervention — before age 2 — can change the clinical course of those children whose brain development has gone awry and help them acquire skills that they would otherwise struggle to achieve,” said Dager.

    The research team has gathered additional behavioral and brain imaging data on these infants and children — such as changes in blood flow in the brain and the movement of water along white matter networks — to understand how brain connectivity and neural activity may differ between high-risk children who do and don’t develop autism. In a separate study published Jan. 6 in Cerebral Cortex, the researchers identified specific brain regions that may be important for acquiring an early social behavior called joint attention, which is orienting attention toward an object after another person points to it.

    “These longitudinal imaging studies, which follow the same infants as they grow older, are really starting to hone in on critical brain developmental processes that can distinguish children who go on to develop ASD and those who do not,” said Dager. “We hope these ongoing efforts will lead to additional biomarkers, which could provide the basis for early, pre-symptomatic diagnosis and serve also to guide individualized interventions to help these kids from falling behind their peers.”

    The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Autism Speaks and the Simons Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:29 pm on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , U Washington, UW joins elite effort for better cancer tests in primary care   

    From U Washington: “UW joins elite effort for better cancer tests in primary care” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    01.31.2017
    Brian Donohue

    1
    Dr. Eunice Chen examines a patient at the UW Neighborhood Olympia Clinic. Clare McLean

    Primary-care doctors make first-line decisions about which patients – say, with an abnormal mole or a gastric complaint – should be referred out for cancer tests that are often expensive, invasive or difficult to schedule quickly.

    “That uncertainty is part of our everyday work as family doctors,” said Dr. Matthew Thompson, director of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a practitioner at the UW Neighborhood Northgate Clinic in Seattle.

    3
    Dr. Matthew Thompson directs the family medicine program in the UW School of Medicine.

    So he’s jazzed about his department’s inclusion in an international effort that aspires to get better cancer diagnostics into primary-care doctors’ hands – to recognize cancers faster and reduce unwarranted referrals that wring patients’ emotions and wallets.

    “These technologies will take investment and development and testing, and I think primary care doctors will welcome that, as will our patients,” Thompson said.

    “CanTest,” a $6 million project funded by Cancer Research UK, makes UW Medicine a partner of the University of Cambridge and a handful of other elite research schools around the world; UW Family Medicine will direct its small share into the Primary Care Innovation Lab.

    “When the right test and technology comes up, we want to see which clinics in our WWAMI-based Practice & Research Network would be good sites for further studies,” Thompson said, referring to a group of 60 clinics across Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

    “Some of this is sharing; maybe there’s something that works in Australia or Denmark that we could be using here. How can we learn from each other across countries with the same kind of cancer issues?”

    4
    Technology aiming to screen for lung cancer with an exhalation is an example of a diagnostic pursued by this research grant. Owlstone Inc

    Over a five-year span of the grant, Cancer Research UK will train and support scientists to develop and share new screenings.

    “We want to nurture a new generation of researchers from a variety of backgrounds to work in primary-care cancer diagnostics, creating an educational melting pot to rapidly expand the field internationally,” said Dr. Fiona Walter, co- lead investigator at Cambridge.

    Dr. Willie Hamilton, co-lead researcher from the University of Exeter, said: “As a GP (general practitioner) myself, I know it can be frustrating to wait weeks for results before making any decisions for my patients. We’re trying to reduce this time by assessing ways that GPs could carry out these tests by themselves, as long as it’s safe and sensible to do so.”

    “We’re open to assessing many different tests, and we’re excited to hear from potential collaborators.”

    In addition to Hamilton, Walter and Thompson, the project’s senior faculty include Richard Neal, Yoryos Lyratzopoulos, Jon Emery, Hardeep Singh and Peter Vedsted. The Baylor College of Medicine in Houston is the only other U.S. site.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:06 am on January 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: $279 million pledged for IHME to expand its work, , Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IHME, U Washington   

    From U Washington: “Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation boosts vital work of the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    January 25, 2017
    Kayla Albrecht
    206-897-3792
    albrek7@uw.edu

    $279 million pledged for IHME to expand its work, highlighting UW’s position as global hub for improving population health worldwide.

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) announced today the foundation’s commitment to invest $279 million in IHME to expand its work over the next decade.

    The investment will allow IHME to build on its work providing independent health evidence to improve population health. The award complements other investments from the Gates Foundation to further the work of the University of Washington’s Population Health Initiative, which was launched in May 2016 and is establishing a university wide, 25-year vision to advance the health and well-being of people around the world.

    “IHME provides critical data about global health trends that can empower policymakers worldwide to identify better solutions in the fight against disease,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    1
    An attendee at an Ebola workshop in Ghana reviews IHME data.Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

    Located within UW Medicine, IHME provides rigorous measurement and analysis of the world’s most prevalent and costly health problems and evaluates strategies to address them. The 10-year grant will fund IHME’s work to track how health resources are spent throughout the world, as well as innovations that identify future scenarios to allow decision-makers to better plan and set population health-related priorities. The funding will sustain IHME’s efforts as the coordinating center for the Global Burden of Disease project, the largest publishing collaboration in science, with more than 2,000 researchers worldwide. The grant also provides core support for IHME’s faculty, students, and staff.

    “IHME is deeply grateful for this funding and the foundation’s continued support,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of IHME. “Behind this grant is not simply a decision to continue outstanding research and analysis, but also an uncompromising commitment to use health metrics sciences to improve people’s lives.”

    “We are proud to support IHME and the University of Washington. We feel lucky that our local university is also on the leading edge of innovation globally, and we are grateful that it has chosen to innovate to help the poorest people in the world,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    The $279 million grant is the largest private donation in the university’s history and continues a long tradition of critical investments in the University of Washington by the Gates Foundation, which include grant awards across its academic disciplines including library science, global health, education, law and others. As of Jan. 25, 2017, the foundation has awarded the University of Washington over 250 grants totaling nearly $1.25 billion.

    “We’re thankful for this generous grant, which demonstrates the Gates Foundation’s high level of trust and confidence in IHME to deliver unsurpassed work on the world’s health challenges,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “We share a vision – a world where all people can achieve their full potential – and through our partnerships we will improve the health and well-being of people here and around the globe.”

    IHME has grown from employing three individuals nine years ago to managing more than 300 faculty and staff today, while producing more than 200 scientific papers annually, and working closely with global and national institutions to improve health systems worldwide. Its findings are published in major scientific journals, policy reports, and online data visualizations. Moreover, IHME is now considered the trusted source for The World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, The National Institutes of Health, the Wellcome Trust, and a range of other national and global organizations.

    Among its work, IHME publishes the annual Global Burden of Disease study (GBD), a systematic, scientific effort to quantify the magnitude of health loss from all major diseases, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex and population. With more than 2,000 collaborators in nearly 130 nations, the GBD examines 300-plus diseases and injuries and about 80 risk factors in every country, as well as sub-national assessments for China, Mexico, UK, Brazil, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and South Africa. In the U.S., 230 causes of death are estimated in every county in every state by census tract.

    The 2015 study, released in October, included more than 13 billion estimates of illnesses and injuries evaluated. (See: http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/increase-global-life-expectancy-offset-war-obesity-and-substance-abuse)

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:18 am on January 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Complex cells that go back maybe 1 ¾ billion years, Conditions right for complex life may have come and gone in Earth’s distant past, , Selenium, , U Washington   

    From U Washington: “Conditions right for complex life may have come and gone in Earth’s distant past” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    January 17, 2017
    Peter Kelley

    1
    This is a 1.9-billion-year-old stromatolite — or mound made by microbes that lived in shallow water — called the Gunflint Formation in northern Minnesota. The environment of the oxygen “overshoot” described in research by Michael Kipp, Eva Stüeken and Roger Buick may have included this sort of oxygen-rich setting that is suitable for complex life.Eva Stüeken.

    Conditions suitable to support complex life may have developed in Earth’s oceans — and then faded — more than a billion years before life truly took hold, a new University of Washington-led study has found.

    The findings, based on using the element selenium as a tool to measure oxygen in the distant past, may also benefit the search for signs of life beyond Earth.

    In a paper published Jan. 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lead author Michael Kipp, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences, analyzed isotopic ratios of the element selenium in sedimentary rocks to measure the presence of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere between 2 and 2.4 billion years ago.

    Kipp’s UW coauthors are former Earth and space sciences postdoctoral researcher Eva Stüeken — now a faculty member at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland — and professor Roger Buick, who is also a faculty member with the UW Astrobiology Program. Their other coauthor is Andrey Bekker of the University of California, Riverside, whose original hypothesis this work helps confirm, the researchers said.

    “There is fossil evidence of complex cells that go back maybe 1 ¾ billion years,” said Buick. “But the oldest fossil is not necessarily the oldest one that ever lived – because the chances of getting preserved as a fossil are pretty low.

    “This research shows that there was enough oxygen in the environment to have allowed complex cells to have evolved, and to have become ecologically important, before there was fossil evidence.” He added, “That doesn’t mean that they did — but they could have.”

    Kipp and Stüeken learned this by analyzing selenium traces in pieces of sedimentary shale from the particular time periods using mass spectrometry in the UW Isotope Geochemistry Lab, to discover if selenium had been changed by the presence of oxygen, or oxidized. Oxidized selenium compounds can then get reduced, causing a shift in the isotopic ratios which gets recorded in the rocks. The abundance of selenium also increases in the rocks when lots of oxygen is present.

    Buick said it was previously thought that oxygen on Earth had a history of “none, then some, then a lot. But what it looks like now is, there was a period of a quarter of a billion years or so where oxygen came quite high, and then sunk back down again.”

    The oxygen’s persistence over a long stretch of time is an important factor, Kipp stressed: “Whereas before and after maybe there were transient environments that could have occasionally supported these organisms, to get them to evolve and be a substantial part of the ecosystem, you need oxygen to persist for a long time.”

    Stüeken said such an oxygen increase has been guessed at previously, but it was unclear how widespread it was. This research creates a clearer picture of what this oxygen “overshoot” looked like: “That it was moderately significant in the atmosphere and surface ocean – but not at all in the deep ocean.”

    What caused oxygen levels to soar this way only to crash just as dramatically?

    “That’s the million-dollar question,” Stüeken said. “It’s unknown why it happened, and why it ended.”

    “It is an unprecedented time in Earth’s history,” Buick said. “If you look at the selenium isotope record through time, it’s a unique interval. If you look before and after, everything’s different.”

    The use of selenium — named after the Greek word for moon — as an effective tool to probe oxygen levels in deep time could also be helpful in the search for oxygen — and so perhaps life — beyond Earth, the researchers said.

    Future generations of space-based telescopes, they note, will give astronomers information about the atmospheric composition of distant planets. Some of these could be approximately Earth-sized and potentially have appreciable atmospheric oxygen.

    “The recognition of an interval in Earth’s distant past that may have had near-modern oxygen levels, but far different biological inhabitants, could mean that the remote detection of an oxygen-rich world is not necessarily proof of a complex biosphere,” Kipp said.

    Buick concluded, “This is a new way of measuring oxygen in a planet’s historical past, to see whether complex life could have evolved there and persisted long enough to evolve into intelligent beings.”

    The research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA and the NASA Astrobiology Institute and Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on January 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Fethya Ibrahim, U Washington,   

    From U Washington: Women in STEM – “Passion never rests: Fethya Ibrahim’s journey through mechanical engineering” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    January 10, 2017
    Chelsea Yates

    First in her family to attend college, senior Fethya Ibrahim is making the most of her time at the UW.

    1
    ME senior Fethya Ibrahim in the Machine Shop. Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington.

    Fethya has been a research assistant in ME’s Cell Biomechanics lab, a 2015-16 McNair Scholar, and she has held multiple mechanical engineering internships at Physio-Control, Inc. Since 2013, she has worked as a tutor in the Engineering Academic Center, and this year she is serving as President of the UW Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

    We recently sat down with Fethya to talk about her involvement and volunteerism on and off campus and why — thanks in part to her experiences in ME’s Machine Shop — she decided to pursue a degree in ME.

    ME: Why did you decide to attend UW and study ME?
    FI: The “Why UW?” part is easy! In the sixth grade, my teacher arranged a class field trip to the UW. As soon as I stepped on campus, I knew I wanted to come to school here. Being at the UW has been a pretty big deal for me; I’m the first in my family to attend college, and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to do so.

    But the “Why study ME?” part is a little more complicated. I loved math and science, so engineering made perfect sense. I explored a few programs before settling into mechanical engineering. The turning point happened the summer I worked in Nathan Sniadecki’s Cell Biomechanics lab. The design and prototyping work I did there — along with the encouragement I received from Professor Sniadecki — is what helped me decide that ME was what I wanted to do. But I wasn’t sure that I’d succeed in the department. One class in particular that I was extremely hesitant about was ME 355, “Introduction to Manufacturing Processes.” It’s a very “hands on” class that involves learning how to use all of the major machines in the Machine Shop, and every ME student has to take it to graduate.

    2
    Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington.

    ME: Tell us more about your experience in the Machine Shop.
    FI: I was incredibly nervous — I found the Shop to be an intimidating space. I had no prior experience with hand tools, let alone machinery. And all of the equipment seemed to be designed and built for users who were taller than me, with bigger hands than mine, and certainly more upper body strength. I wanted to do well in the Shop but feared it just wasn’t for me. I was also worried that my attire would present a safety concern and that I wouldn’t be able to use the machinery and would fail the class.

    ME: So what happened?
    FI: I met Eamon and Reggie, the Shop instructors. And suddenly the Shop became a very different space — full of possibility, and fun! The instructors made sure everyone in class knew how to safely use the equipment. They worked with me to ensure that my clothing would not present a safety issue (I wear a jacket or my favorite UW sweatshirt over my dress to keep my scarf, sleeves and fabric draping tucked in and tight). And then they encouraged me to, well, just start machining.

    Over time, I became more comfortable with tooling and machining. I discovered that I really liked to operate the lathe. The amount of work it can do is incredible — shaping, cutting, polishing, finishing. Once I found my rhythm for running it, the lathe began to feel quite intuitive.

    ME: What other skills did you develop while working in the Machine Shop?
    FI: I had to learn how to be patient with the machines, and with myself. I’m the type of person who likes to “get” things immediately — and do them well — and with the equipment in the Machine Shop, that just wasn’t going to happen right away. I often had to ask for help reaching things, lifting things, and getting the machines to work. But there’s a lot of help around if you just ask. And people really like to help! It’s funny that this idea was so novel to me as helping others means a lot to me personally. So, it was good for me to learn how to ask.

    I also started watching the instructors’ hands during demos. They were always so still, so quiet. For them it was all about sensing the flow of the machine, and once I relaxed into this idea, things started to come a little more easily. By the end of the quarter, I was surprised by how much I could do, how quickly I could work the machines, and how much self-confidence I’d developed.

    ME: Tell us about your experiences tutoring in the Engineering Academic Center (EAC).
    FI: I started tutoring at the EAC through the Minority Scholars Engineering Program when I was a sophomore. I just love it! I help students with calculus-based physics and math courses in one-on-one sessions and workshops. Tutoring has been a wonderful way for me to contribute to the UW community and also to sharpen my skills! I’m constantly practicing my math, science and communications skills.

    3
    Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington.

    ME: In addition to tutoring students on campus, you also go home on weekends to mentor students at your community center. Why?
    FI: I’m thankful that my community has been supportive of my educational pursuits and for the opportunities I’ve had at the UW, and it’s important to me to give back. I come from an immigrant community here in Seattle; our older generations didn’t have the resources to pursue education due to war and conflict in their home countries. As a result, most older men and women in our community are not college-educated, and very few have a high school education.

    On the weekends, I’m a youth mentor and teach Arabic at our community center, where we host a range of college readiness workshops. I also facilitate discussions about current events, social issues and try to help the younger generations understand why they should be proud of who they are. If I can be a mentor for young women in particular — to show them that it’s possible for women to earn engineering degrees and have professional careers — then that’s just as important to me as earning the degree itself.

    ME: This year you’re also serving as President of the UW chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), correct?
    FI: Yes! NSBE is a student-led organization that’s fun, supportive and inspiring. It provides professional development and networking opportunities on campus and outreach to high school students, which I find very meaningful. I’m eager to take NSBE to the next level. As President, I’m focusing on the organization’s growth. I want to establish a sustainable administrative structure that future leaders can build from.

    ME: You’ll be graduating this spring. What’s next?
    FI: I hope to get a job doing design work at Boeing. That would be ideal. I’ll also continue advocating for and mentoring the girls in my community. I want to help them break the glass ceiling and know that they have a place in STEM fields and professions.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:48 am on January 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CSE, U Washington, Zillow   

    From U Washington: “Zillow Group pledges $5 million for new UW Computer Science and Engineering building” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    January 10, 2017
    Jennifer Langston

    1
    The 3,000-square-foot Zillow Commons will be a flexible events space in the new building that can host faculty meetings and departmental gatherings, workshops, conferences, research talks, industry recruiting events and other functions to benefit UW CSE, the campus and the broader community.LMN Architects

    Zillow Group, which houses a portfolio of the largest real estate and home-related brands on mobile and web, has committed $5 million toward the development of a second Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) building on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus.

    The new building will allow the university to double the number of CSE degrees it awards each year, and reduce the number of qualified students who are turned away from the program each year.

    Zillow Group’s pledge is a natural extension of its longtime partnership with UW CSE. The company’s donation will help fund construction of a new 130,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility — slated for completion in 2019 — that will provide much-needed classroom, laboratory and collaborative spaces. One of the building’s highlights will be the “Zillow Commons,” a 3,000-square-foot event and multiuse space to be used by students, faculty and the community.

    “The University of Washington’s CSE program plays a vital role in our region’s technology ecosystem and is a recognized leader in education, as well as diversity in tech,” said Zillow Group COO Amy Bohutinsky. “Having founded our company in Seattle, we have long benefited from this wealth of talent and are proud to be able to support the expansion of such an extraordinary program. As Zillow Group’s first corporate donation, our hope is that this gift will help expand the education opportunities in our state and ensure more young people have access to high quality STEM education.”

    “We’re truly grateful for this gift both because of what it will mean for our students and state, and because of how it represents Zillow Group’s commitment to our region,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce. “It’s heartening to have such tremendous support from a home-grown company. Zillow Group’s dedication to innovation and education has helped it grow as an industry leader and as a strong partner in Washington’s innovation ecosystem.”

    “Students are clamoring for a CSE education, but we have to turn away roughly two-thirds of students who meet the prerequisites due to lack of space,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering. “At the same time, our innovative companies are clamoring for more CSE graduates. By generously supporting our expansion, Zillow Group is laying the foundation for a brighter future for Washington’s students and our economy.”

    For more information, contact Lazowska at lazowska@uw.edu or Camille Chotzen, Zillow Group, at press@zillow.com.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:01 pm on January 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , EVO Project, , U Washington   

    From U Washington: “Game your brain to treat depression, studies suggest” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    01.03.2017
    Bobbi Nodell

    1
    Project: EVO targets an individual’s core neurological ability to process multiple streams of information and helps to treat the cause of depression, researchers found. Scott Areman

    Researchers have found promising results for treating depression with a video game interface that targets underlying cognitive issues associated with depression rather than just managing the symptoms.

    “We found that moderately depressed people do better with apps like this because they address or treat correlates of depression,” said Patricia Areán, a UW Medicine researcher in psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

    The first study enrolled older adults diagnosed with late-life depression into a treatment trial where they were randomized to receive either a mobile, tablet-based treatment technology developed by Akili Interactive Labs called Project: EVO or an in-person therapy technique known as problem-solving therapy (PST).

    Project: EVO runs on phones and tablets and is designed to improve focus and attention at a basic neurological level. The results, published Jan. 3 in the journal Depression and Anxiety, showed that the group using Project: EVO demonstrated specific cognitive benefits (such as attention) compared to the behavioral therapy, and saw similar improvements in mood and self-reported function. Joaquin A. Anguera, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), researcher in neurology and psychiatry, is the lead author, and Areán is the senior author. The researchers have no commercial interests in the intervention manufactured by Akili Interactive Labs in Boston. The studies were funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

    “While EVO was not directly designed to treat depressive symptoms; we hypothesized that there may indeed be beneficial effects on these symptoms by improving cognitive issues with targeted treatment, and so far, the results are promising,” said Anguera.

    People with late-life depression (60+) are known to have trouble focusing their attention on personal goals and report trouble concentrating because they are so distracted by their worries. Akili’s technology was designed to help people better focus their attention and to prevent people from being easily distracted.

    Arean said most of the participants had never used a tablet, let alone played a video game, but compliance was more than 100 percent. The participants were required to play the game five times a week for 20 minutes, but many played it more. Participants in this arm of the study also attended weekly meetings with a clinician. The meetings served as a control for the fact that participants in the problem-solving therapy arm were seen in person on a weekly basis, and social contact of this nature can have a positive effect on mood.

    Second study

    A second study, which was another joint effort by UW and UCSF, randomized more than 600 people across the United States assessed as moderately or mildly depressed to one of three interventions: Akili’s Project: EVO; iPST, an app deployment of problem-solving therapy; or a placebo control (an app called Health Tips, which offered healthy suggestions).

    Areán, the lead researcher on the study published Dec. 20 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JIMR), found that people who were mildly depressed were able to see improvements in all three groups, including the placebo. However, those individuals who were more than mildly depressed showed a greater improvement of their symptoms following their use of Project EVO or iPST versus the placebo.

    Areán said much of her research is aimed at providing effective treatment to people who need it, and these results provide great potential for helping people who don’t have the resources to access effective problem solving therapy. But, she stressed, the apps should be used under clinical supervision because without a human interface, people were not as motivated to use it. In the JIMR study, 58 percent of participants did not download the app.

    Akili’s technologies are based on a proprietary neuroscience approach developed to target specific neurological systems through sensory and digital mechanics. The company’s technology platform used in this trial is based on cognitive science exclusively licensed from the lab of Dr. Adam Gazzaley at UCSF, and adaptive algorithms developed at Akili, which are built into action video game interfaces. The technology targets an individual’s core neurological ability to process multiple streams of information.

    Project: EVO is undergoing multiple clinical trials for use in cognitive disorders — including Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury and pediatric attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the company is on path for potential FDA clearance to treat pediatric ADHD.

    Areán is recruiting for a study at UW and Cornell of older adults (60+) willing to have their brains scanned before and after interacting with Akili’s technology. A separate UW Medicine study is seeking participants 45+ with depression. For details, email brighten@uw.edu.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
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