MIT ELO AI + mental health for minority populations with chronic disease

Combine hands-on research with educational activities designed to empower change in communities affected by chronic and mental diseases, starting with a focus on heart disease and depression. Activities: – Help inspire and nurture STEAM education in schools and children with limited opportunity to realize their potential (such as low-income students on free- or reduced-lunches), starting through an already-existing Affiliation Agreement with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and ongoing efforts of IMES faculty with Boston/Cambridge public schools. – Help establishing a “US/LATAM Consortium” of medical professionals, engineers and scientists, both in academia and industry, to collaboratively gain a deeper understanding of the chronic disease/mental health intersection and propose new diagnostic and treatment solutions. – Design an IRB protocol that allows us to gather longitudinal multifactorial data of a unique clinical study with three distinct clinical sites – Boston, Miami, and Sao Paulo – where we have established scientific collaborations that allow us to capture a culturally diverse and minority-focused cohort. The three populations will share disease diagnosis (i.e. heart disease with depression) but differ in environments and symptoms. We plan to (1) study genes and gene networks all the way to systems and behavior; (2) incorporate non-traditional measurements (for example, RNA sequencing of circulating cells and vesicles, non invasive brain stimulation); and (3) collect digital phenotypes from wearable sensors in a setting away from the clinic, in the daily lives of study participants. We expect to expand the knowledge we have about classification of neurological syndromes and chronic disease manifestation; ie there is a lot in the “depression” bucket, but lack of granularity when it comes to subtypes of depression manifestation when concomitant with heart disease phenotype in different populations and ethnicities.

➔ ELO students will learn about mental and cardiovascular disease from different angles – from the genes and molecules all the way to behavioural and population disease manifestation, diagnosis and treatment.
◆ To do so, ELO students will be paired with graduate students and postdocs working with IMES principal investigators, be directed to key literature in the field, and attend weekly laboratory meetings and meetings with members of the consortium.
◆ ELO students will learn to dig into scientific literature as well as into primary market research. By interacting with our collaborators in the healthcare industry and with second-year Sloan MBA students actively collaborating with IMES, ELO students will learn to landscape the most important technologies and describe the most critical clinical issues and economic impacts.
➔ ELO students will learn about already-existing different frameworks for health care delivery and how health problems manifest and are tackled in different communities/cultures. They will learn to interview key opinion leaders and stakeholders.
➔ ELO students will be actively involved in the early steps of creating an international consortium, “US/LATAM Consortium”, that aims to bring together individuals and institutions from different backgrounds and cultures. We hope to generate a joint muti-PI, multi-institutional proposal (for June deadline submission) so that several research projects may be funded in the space of overlap between chronic disease and mental disease. By direct interaction with the faculty promoting the above-mention consortium, students will learn and apply critical soft skills such as how to approach building a large and diverse team of professionals; how to find the unifying scheme that brings people together; how to circumvent language and cultural barriers; and how to actively promote inclusion and diversity in the team. In addition students will learn and practice project management, proposal preparation, and pitching skills for internships opportunities.
➔ ELO students will have the opportunity to learn and practice Spanish and Portuguese when interacting with Latin American collaborators, and to gain exposure to and an appreciation for working within an international context and with diverse cultures.
➔ ELO students will have the opportunity to become co-teachers/tutors of middle and high school students to help them improve academically and to inspire them to pursue STEAM careers. This will allow ELO students to develop their teaching/tutoring skills and service spirit and interact as educators in practice rather than in theory.

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