As the Chief Medical Officer at Labfront, a startup that is focused on democratizing health sciences through wearable devices and data, I am excited to share about our latest round of grants for young researchers. At least twice a year, we put out a call for undergraduate and graduate students to apply for our grant award, which includes cash, Garmin devices, and free access to our Labfront platform for at least one year.
Diverse pool of talented applicants
This past November, we received over 60 applications from undergraduate students across the United States and even a few from outside the country. The proposed projects were incredibly diverse, covering a range of disciplines including exercise science, psychology, neuroscience, and social medicine, and focused on digital markers such as stress, physical activity, sleep, and HRV.
Labfront is a pretty lean company with limited resources. But we're a startup on a mission to democratize health sciences with a focus on wearable devices and data. Having this mission makes us feel rich.
Award extension to support more projects
It was extremely difficult to select only one winner from such a talented pool of applicants, who had already demonstrated their dedication to their research through their academic achievements, research experience, and various community service activities. Thanks to another generous donation from our partner Garmin Health, we were able to offer devices to several outstanding applicants.
The winning submissions
The winning submission came from Megan Chen with her proposed study evaluating whether wearable technologies like smartwatches can improve the prediction of recovery from depression in adolescents by measuring HRV and sleep patterns during inpatient hospitalization and assessing depression symptom trajectories post-discharge.
Thinh Huynh was awarded second place, 5 Garmin devices and a Labfront account, for his proposed study evaluating differences in biometric measures (HR, HRV, respiration rate, stress levels, and O2 sats) between adults with and without Parkinson's Disease.
Additional awardees and their proposals
We couldn’t narrow it down to only two applicants, so in addition to the winning submissions, several other proposals were awarded a Garmin device and a free Labfront account:
- Kelly Hines’ study examines the correlation between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obesity in children using daily trackable watches, DEXA scans, and virtual reality intervention.
- Helena VanBibber aims to use muscle oxygen saturation (SmO2) levels to monitor rehabilitation progress in patients after ACL surgery and develop an algorithm for physical therapists to guide return to play.
- Gianna Ellis will use wearable technology to measure the effectiveness of physical activity interventions for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
- Giles Andrews III’s study explores the use of physiological markers from wearables to predict cardiopulmonary capacity and muscle strength as indicators of sports performance.
Next Steps: Connecting Researchers and Advancing Research
The decision process was excruciating and difficult - but it also forced us to be creative in helping these students reach their potential. To further assist young scientists, we are looking for ways to connect them with each other and with content experts who can help them advance their research. We are also planning to create tutorials on the science behind wearables, covering topics like IMU hardware, PPG hardware, the physiology of HRV/sleep/actigraphy, and signal processing and analytics.
At Labfront, we believe that supporting these bright and ambitious students is crucial for the future of science, and we are excited to be able to offer them the resources and support they need to succeed. If you have any other ideas for how we can help these young researchers, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in Future Grant Opportunities?
Dr. Ahn is an internal medicine physician with a background in physics/engineering and physiological signal analyses. He is the Chief Medical Officer at Labfront and an Assistant Professor in Medicine & Radiology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ahn is passionate about democratizing health sciences and exploring health from an anti-disciplinary perspective.