Wednesday, December 7, 2011

National Science Foundation's Smart Health and Wellbeing Program

By Michael Saunders

The National Science Foundation, also referred to as NSF, is an independent agency of the United States federal government that is tremendously responsible for financing research and education activities in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.

The work of the NSF are always led by their overall agency mission, which is to "To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense."

In line with this, the National Science Foundation has constituted the creation of the Smart Health and Wellbeing (SHB) Program wherein they intend to address scientific and technical issues that would pave the way towards the transformation of the healthcare process from being rather reactive and hospital centered into becoming preventive, proactive, evidence-based, patient-centered and dedicated to the wellbeing of the person instead of his/her disease.

The program tries to achieve this by addressing issues that are associated with sensor technology, networking, information and machine learning technology, system and process modeling, modeling cognitive process and finally, social and economic issues.

In connection with this, the principal investigators who desire to participate in this program will have to include research studies that address the following concerns:

1) Digital Health Information Infrastructure - This dimension should include techniques and methods that will most likely enable the interoperable, distributed, federated, and scalable digital infrastructure, languages, and tools for efficient integration and utilization of electronic health record information, as well as networked applications that can access such information.

2) From Data to Knowledge to Decisions - This dimension is meant to address the creation of algorithms for the assortment of multi-scale clinical, biomedical, contextual, and environmental data concerning every patient which would build a window towards the establishment of decision support tools that could potentially optimize a patient-centered and evidence-based practice.

3) Empowering Individuals - This dimension will have to include techniques that could help determine socioeconomic and behavioral principles that might influence a patient's participation in healthcare and wellness activities.

4) Sensors, Devices and Robotics - This dimension will include investigative techniques that will allow interoperable, temporally synchronized, medical prosthetic and embedded devices to continuously capture, store, and transmit physiological and environmental data.

The program will accommodate two kinds of project classes, the first one would the Exploratory Project, wherein they will award funds ranging from $200,000 to $600,000 with a project duration of two to three years. The second project class would be the Integrative Project wherein the NSF will award funds in the amount of $600,000 to $2,000,000 with a project duration of four to five years.

Researchers and investigators will only be eligible to submit an application for the Smart Health and Wellbeing Program if they are representing any of the following:

a) Universities and colleges including community colleges which campuses are located in the United States of America.

b) Non-profit, non-academic organizations such as independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and other organizations that are associated with research and educational activities.

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