Issue #5 - Spring 2018
Depression Grand Challenge Newsletter

The Depression Grand Challenge is working to cut the burden of depression in half by 2050 and eliminate it by the end of the century. As newsletter subscribers know, we have organized our approach into four components - Innovative Treatment Network, 100K Study, Awareness & Hope, and Discovery Neuroscience. This newsletter highlights how smartphones are being leveraged across the components by the Depression Grand Challenge team to tackle depression for both diagnosis and treatment purposes.
Smartphones Used for Good 

Mobile smartphones are ubiquitous in today's society, making smartphone apps an optimal tool to deliver treatment and track symptom changes. The Depression Grand Challenge team is focused on two areas of smartphone app development: (1) tracking and monitoring objective measures that indicate early signs for or actual symptoms of depression; and (2) evidence and internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy for those with low to moderate levels of depression and anxiety.
Remote Monitoring of Objective Measures Enables Delivering More Timely Interventions 

Depression Grand Challenge researchers and scientists are developing and refining an app to measure daily patterns and routines such as sleep patterns, physical activity and social interaction. Currently, mental healthcare providers rely on mostly subjective assessments for depression, like self-report symptom surveys. This app is passive meaning that it runs in the background on our phones. The objective measures captured by the app can be analyzed and create automated notifications for clinicians when there are significant changes in activity patterns that might be a sign of depression symptoms, enabling earlier interventions. This app may also help inform genomic analysis as well because Depression Grand Challenge team members will be able to analyze how specific depression symptom patterns are connected with certain genetic traits.
Delivering Treatment Online Provides Greater Scalability:

As the incident rates of depression increase, it is clear that most health care settings cannot meet the demand with traditional forms of treatment characterized by a series of in person visits. This prompted the exploration of more scalable solutions, including the delivery of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT).
Above Innovative Technologies Already in Use at UCLA:

Students across campus are being offered a Check In Survey to assess their risk for or current symptoms of anxiety and depression. Students found to be at risk for or experiencing mild or moderate symptoms are being offered iCBT. Students enrolled in the iCBT study are also being offered the remote monitoring app. Next steps for the app include refining and expanding the technology for an upcoming rollout to 2,000 UCLA health system patients planned for within 18 months. In addition to having the benefit of identifying symptoms earlier and serving as a form of a safety net, the behavioral data collected by the app may also help inform the development of more accurate animal models for depression. It is expected that the apps will continue to be refined over the term of the Depression Grand Challenge, informed by ongoing research and increased technological capabilities.
Rock Star Team:

UCLA has established an international consortium of researchers from across the world who are working together to better treat and monitor individuals with depression using app technology. This international dream team includes researchers from University of Oulu, University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, and Microsoft Research . The group recently convened in person for a symposium on personal sensing technologies .
Recent News:

To read the latest updates about the Depression Grand Challenge between newsletters, please visit our  happenings page . A few recent features are linked below:

External News Coverage: 

Other News: