Category Archives: News

Post Doctoral Researcher in the application of Digital Technology

We are looking for an experienced Post Doctoral Researcher in the application of Digital Technology to Mental Health.
In the digital era we generate more data every 2 days than we did in the time up until 2003. This big data is being used by advertising, media, retail, finance and travel with medicine and healthcare lagging behind. The data held in electronic patient records and generated through modern digital devices are examples of the big biomedical data that we could use to develop more targeted treatment strategies. So, the challenge in e- and m- health is no longer data generation, the problem has shifted to data handling and the separation of signal from the noise to produce clear indicators of whether a clinical intervention is necessary. This is especially an issue in mental health as we work with less clear signals.

The exciting opportunity is now to use new technology to support more sophisticated models which might detect signals early enough to provide opportunities for effective interventions that keep people well.
This post will be based in our established BRC informatics group and work with the Patient and Carer Theme to develop shared informatics tools and infrastructure to enable data harmonization and analytics for use in discovering the personal signatures for needs for care using machine learning for example. The role will contribute to the growing initiatives within the BRC clinical informatics, bioinformatics and biostatistics groups ( whose others areas of focus include integrating genomics with electronic hospital patient records and cloud based patient owned records such as MyHealthLocker.
The post-holder will have an established track record in programming on the Linux OS, and will ideally also have quantitative research skills and/or previous experience of working with digital health data although this is not essential.

More details and application on the KCL website

Alzheimers Disease Big Data DREAM Challenge

Ranit Schmelzer. USAgainstAlzheimer’s. Tel: 202-538-1065. Email:
Thea Norman. Sage Bionetworks. Tel: 206-667-3192. Email:

Washington, DC – The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi), Sage Bionetworks and DREAM Project, today launched the Alzheimer’s Disease Big Data DREAM Challenge #1 in an effort to advance diagnostic innovation and identify new Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers through the use of open source data.

The goal of the Challenge (AD#1) is to apply an open science approach to rapidly identify accurate predictive Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers that can be used by the scientific, industry and regulatory communities to improve Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment.  AD#1 will be the first in a series of Alzheimer’s Data Challenges to leverage genetics and brain imaging in combination with cognitive assessments, biomarkers and demographic information from cohorts ranging from cognitively normal to mild cognitively impaired to individuals with Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s is more costly to society than cancer, yet there is currently no cure, treatment, or means of prevention” said George Vradenburg, Convener of CEOi and Chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s.  “This unprecedented and innovative challenge will showcase the use of open science using 21st century tools, leading to a potential breakthrough for the Alzheimer’s research community.”

The AD#1 Challenge is hosted on Synapse, Sage Bionetworks’ open computational platform, an integrated knowledge environment where data (e.g. human sequence and image data) and models (e.g. prediction and the underlying model source code) can be shared and worked on collaboratively by teams of teams.  The Challenge will be objectively judged against data that has been hidden from participants.  Information about the three AD#1 Challenge questions and the scientific rationale can be found here.

“This challenge will showcase the power of open science in breaking down barriers that slow innovation in the race to cure Alzheimer’s,” said Stephen Friend, President and Co-Founder of Sage Bionetworks.  “Through this series of big challenges, we hope to move closer to solving this intractable problem of Alzheimer’s.”

The open source data from Alzheimer’s patients is provided by the North American Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), Rush University Medical Center, and the United Kingdom’s AddNeuroMed Study, and will include results from imaging, clinical, whole genome sequencing, and multiple cognitive tests that were conducted on a cohort of individuals who have aged normally, suffer from mild-cognitive impairment or have Alzheimer’s disease.  More than two hundred bioinformatics experts from around the world have already signed up to participate in the Challenge.

While there has been huge growth in scientific data due to declining costs and advances in technology, there remains very little crowd sourcing of findings among researchers.  In recent years, however, pharmaceutical companies have shown an increased willingness to share pre-competitive data, as research and development has declined.  This development has occurred alongside recent efforts by regulatory agencies to encourage data standardization, disclosure, and sharing.

More than 40 million people globally suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.  Today, the global cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s is more than 1% of global economic output, or $600 billion annually.  In coming years, as more and more baby boomers reach the age of risk for the disease, those numbers are projected to skyrocket without a treatment to slow the progression of the disease.

Through its diverse partnerships, the CEOi is seeking to work closely with governments and global institutions to advance meaningful reforms to the Alzheimer’s drug marketplace.  The CEOi members include AC Immune, Bank of America, Banner Health, General Electric, Home Instead, Janssen, Lilly, Merck, Nestle Health Science, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda.


Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi) is an organization of private-sector leaders who have joined together to provide business leadership in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The CEO Initiative seeks to partner with public leaders to transform the disease from a social, health, and economic crisis into an opportunity for healthy aging and innovation in research and care. The CEO Initiative believes that, during this era of aging populations, it will take visionary, coordinated, goal-oriented leadership of public and private leaders working together to solve our greatest challenges.  Learn more at:

Sage Bionetworks is a nonprofit biomedical research organization, founded in 2009, with a vision to promote innovations in personalized medicine by enabling a community-based approach to scientific inquiries and discoveries.  Sage Bionetworks strives to activate patients and to incentivize scientists, funders and researchers to work in fundamentally new ways in order to shape research, accelerate access to knowledge and transform human health.  It is located on the campus of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington and is supported through a portfolio of philanthropic donations, competitive research grants, and commercial partnerships. More information is available at



The goal of the Alzheimer’s Disease Big Data DREAM Challenge #1 (AD#1) is to apply an open science approach to rapidly identify accurate predictive AD biomarkers that can be used by the scientific, industrial and regulatory communities to improve AD diagnosis and treatment. AD#1 will be the first in a series of AD Data Challenges to leverage genetics and brain imaging in combination with cognitive assessments, biomarkers and demographic information from cohorts ranging from cognitively normal to mild cognitively impaired to individuals with AD.

We invite you to participate in this Challenge by considering any of the following questions:

Subchallenge 1: Predict the change in cognitive scores 24 months after initial assessment.
Scientific Rationale: Answers to this question will help predict cognitive trajectory and potentially provide new approaches for early diagnosis of AD. This earlier identification would allow for more efficient selection of samples for clinical trials and possibilities for earlier disease treatment.


Subchallenge 2: Predict the set of cognitively normal individuals whose biomarkers are suggestive of amyloid perturbation.
Scientific Rationale: Answers to this question will help us understand how some people maintain normal cognitive function in the presence of amyloid pathology. The biological basis of this resilience to pathology will provide important insights into the development of prevention and therapy.


Subchallenge 3: Classify individuals into diagnostic groups using MR imaging.
Scientific Rationale: If a single MR image could be used to differentiate AD patients from people with mild cognitive impairment or from healthy individuals, research can focus on the specific anatomical structures that are different between the groups. Currently, MRI data are acquired routinely in hospitals: thus a winning algorithm could potentially be retrospectively applied to existing archives of clinical data as well as to future scans without requiring additional resources or expertise.

For questions about the Challenge design please contact the Challenge Organizers through the Challenge Forum

Big Data in Mental Health – 23/07/2014


The Bioinformatics group at the BRC-MH and Maudsley Digital are delighted to announce a symposium to showcase the important role of big data in mental health biomedical research.

The event will be held on July 23rd 2014 at the Ortus Learning and Events Centre in Denmark Hill. Save the date!

Keep an eye on the event page for the details on registration and confirmed speakers:

RSE Website Launched


Developing good software in academia can be challenging. Short-term grants and pressure to write papers often conflict with good development practices. The Software Sustainability Institute believes that Better Software leads to Better Research and they’re helping to build a community to promote and support the role of Research Software Engineers.

If you’re developing software in research, check out the new RSE community website- and sign up to the mailing list.

Building mobile apps for behavioural intervention

David C Mohr and Mark Begale, from Northwestern University’s Centre for Behavioural Technologies, will be visiting the IoP on Monday 10th March. Come along and hear them talk about their framework for developing mobile applications for behavioural interventions.

More details –