New National Institute on Aging Grant to Use Wearable Sensors for Early Diagnosis of Dementia

Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash

Our group is collaborating with the other researchers at the UW, Seattle VA Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic to use wearable sensors to improve early diagnosis of Alzheimers Disease and Dementia with Lewy Bodies.  Early discimination of individuals on the trajectory to these two different diseases may lead more appropriate treatments to improve outcomes.

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

This work leverages our group’s previous work with wearable motion and physiologic sensors. In the current study we will be collaborating with experts in sleep monitoring and cognitive assessments.

The Principal Investigator, Dr. Debby Tsuang will lead this study funded by the NIH National Institutes of Aging.

The study will recruit participants from sites in different locations in the US, who have either Alzhiemer’s Disease or Dementia with Lewy Bodies, who will use a variety of sensors which will provide potential valuable data useful in disciminating the mobility, sleep, and other quality of life indicators of older adults who have these diseases. In a later phase of the study, we will use this information to examine a larger cohort of adults with mild cognitive impairment, and track the assocations between their cognitive decline over time and various sensor data.

 

New Kresge Foundation community-engagement grant to improve Climate Resilience in South King County communities

We are partnering with Seattle-based organizations Got Green and Front & Centered on a new grant from the Kresge Foundation that will work towards Climate Resilence Planning for South Seattle and South King County Communities.

This work builds off of previous collaborations that led to the the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map.

The new grant aims to increase understanding of climate change impacts for communities of color, improve the readiness of communities of color to serve in an equitable way in city and county climate policies, and increase the capacity of communities of color to document and track vulnerabilities to cimate change.

My group at the UW looks forward to working with our parterns at Got Green and Front & Centered on this important work.

For more information, please contact the project lead, Got Green.

Research finds that community air monitoring helps identify more PM episodes than government monitoring alone

Establishing community-based air quality monitoring networks has largely focused on the benefits of engaging communities in environmental issues, building awareness of air quality-related impacts and environmental disparities. But, has such monitoring really improved our understanding of air quality?

This new paper from our group helps quantify the improved air quality information gained from next-generation community-based air monitoring. The research is based on a dense network of monitors that were established by a collaborative involving our research group and various partners in the Imperial Valley, California in 2016.  We observed that with approximately 10 times as many monitors as operated by government agencies in the region, we observed approximately 10 times as many PM2.5 episodes over a 5-month period.

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/18/3268

The monitoring for this study is based on technologies and sensor calibration methods developed in our research group. Our group continues to conduct research and make improvements to our community air monitoring methods.  If interested in learning more about our low-cost monitoring projects in Imperial, San Ysidro/Tijiuana, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Baltimore, Winston-Salem please feel free to contact us. 

A new Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool

The “Microepidemics” study is examining the spatial-genetic clustering of HIV infections among males who have sex with other males (MSM) in Lima, Peru.

To address microepidemics we have been developing state of the art methods to identify recent infections, and treating these early infections as a way to prevent further spread of transmission.  We hypothesize the social venues, such as bars, clubs, saunas, etc., may be contributing to microepidemics.

Using a mobile testing van parked at popular venues in Lima, Peru, we have tested over 500 individuals, have identified more than 100 individuals with infection, and have referred them to treatment. This “treatment as prevention” strategy based on the current microepidemic situation can respond rapidly to ongoing changes in local transmission.

To help plan for “treatment as a prevention” strategies, we have developed the Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool.  This tool is not only useful for our HIV study — for example, to help target mobile testing at venues where there is high recent HIV infection among certain subpopulations (e.g., MSM, transgender women, sex workers, etc) — but can be used for other infectious disease applications where rapidly changing data are available on infection at specific sites that need to be quickly mapped to prioritize intervention activities.

The Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool is implemented as a web based tool, and is designed to be easily used by program staff with no experience in GIS or spatial analyses. It takes as input a site file, which has the locations of sites in the study area, and an observations file, which documents different levels of infection prevalence or incidence at observed at each site.  The tool allows staff to select which type of venue they’re interested in targeting, and which subpopulation group’s infection rate they want to prioritize.

The Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool is available for free public use here:
https://edmundseto.shinyapps.io/shinyMaptMicroepidemics/

The Microepidemics study is a collaboration with Ann Duerr’s group at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Josh Herbeck’s group at the UW Department of Global Health, and Impacta in Peru. As a researcher with no previous HIV work, and a new collaborator, I am the Principal Investigator for the Microepidemics study — a NIH CFAR grant — which builds off of years of previous research conducted by Dr. Duerr’s group in Lima, including the ¿Sabes? study. 

 

Press on Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map

Crosscut
How polluted is your neighborhood? This new tool will tell you
By Manola Secaira

 

The Seattle Times
New Washington map shows why environmental health is a justice issue; see the risks in your area
By Tyrone Beason

 

KUOW
Ever wonder if your neighborhood is making you sick? Use this new tool to find out
By Kamna Shastri

 

Northwest Public Broadcasting
New Map Shows Hotspots Of Environmental Health Hazards For Washington Neighborhoods
By Esmy Jimenez

 

Launch of the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map

In collaboration with Front and Centered, Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, today we launched the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map.

The map is an interactive tool that utliizes up-to-date statewide environmental datasets and population measures in order to rank communities with respect to cumulative environmental risk.  The map provides new insights into health inequities at the neighborhood level to help shape state priorities and funding decisions.

Data on multiple environmental indicators are combined in the online tool to show a cumulative score for each of the 1,458 US Census tracts in the state. The tool is hosted by the state Department of Health through its Washington Tracking Network, and is available at: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/wtn/WTNIBL/

Indicators were chosen based on input from community listening sessions that were held across the state.  While data may not exist for all the indicators requested by attendees of the the listening sessions, the environmental health disparities map is meant to be dynamic, and evolve as new data become available.

The tool is meant to be solutions-oriented. Regardless of whether you’re a concerned resident, community leader and organizer, responsible government agency – having a better understanding of the environmental conditions in your community, and the people that are most affected by poor environmental quality – should lead to more informed priorities and focused strategies to improve environmental health.

While the map makes it easy for you to quickly compare the cumulative impact scores between different census tracts, I invite you to dig a bit deeper. Focus in on where you live, work, and play. Explore the various indicators that make up a score for your community. Examine how these indicators jive with what you know and your experience. And think about what needs to be done to be make environmental conditions better!

A report describing the methods and data used by the mapping tool can found here.

A policy brief for the tool can be found here.

 

Working towards an Environmental Justice Map for Washington State

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences are working with Washington Department of Health’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, Front and Centered, and other organizations to create an environmental justice map for the state of Washington.  The map aims to incorporate the best available statewide data on environmental pollution and population vulnerability at the community level.  The work is informed by listening sessions held across te state aimed at understanding what pollution concerns exist for different communities, and how it affects the lives of those who live in these communities.

To learn more about the project visit the project website:
https://deohs.washington.edu/washington-state-environmental-justice-mapping-project

One of the main leads on the project, doctoral student, Esther Min is currently seeking input on the development of the first draft of this map. 

As the project evolves, I’ll post additional articles documenting the challenges and opportunities we’ve faced in developing the EJ map.

 

An Unfair Share: Climate Change Hits Some Harder Than Others

In the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to take environmental quality — our clean air, water, and soil — for granted. And with abundant natural and human resources, and a booming economy in Washington, doesn’t the future look bright?

But, let’s not forget that the science is clear: our climate is changing, and climate change threatens environmental quality and the health of people in Washington State. Climate change will affect some more than others. Race, income, language, location, and employment are some of the key factors that determine who are most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change. 

With support from the Seattle Foundation, researchers at the University of Washington collaborated with Front and Centered to better identify the impacts of climate change on the health of communities of color.  More than a literature review and data analysis, an effort was made to listen to communities across the state to understand and document their experiences and concerns about climate change and exposures to pollution that could result from a changing environment.

The result of this work is a new report: An Unfair Share.  The report highlights the health risks faced by some of our most vulnerable workers, such as those employed in agriculture, construction, and fisheries. The report also hightlights how geography, and living in lowland areas, wildland/urban interfaces, or urban areas, each bears different risks with climate change.

The report identifies important knowledge gaps that can hopefully motivate new research that can lead to improved preparedness and resiliance in communities of color that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Read the full report here: bit.ly/unfairsharereport
and let’s work for climate justice!

 

The Beacon Hill Noise Team — Community Scientists Quantify Noise Pollution in Seattle

Thanks to a community microgrant from the Verity Credit Union this summer, we were able to kickstart the Beacon Hill Noise Study.

Over the last year, I have been hearing from residents of the Beacon Hill community in Seattle, about noise issues.  Beacon Hill is surrounded by freeways and major thoroughfares, and has airplane traffic at SeaTac flying overhead.  The community is struggling to address the noise pollution.

In the Summer of 2017, with considerable community support and encouragement, we applied for, but were unsuccessful in obtaining funding from the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority Nimble Fund.  This was very disappointing news for the residents.

Although discouraged by the results of the PHPDA proposal, we wrote an announcement to the community, which was distributed via social media in the Fall of 2017. In the announcment, we asked if people with specific skills would be willing to donate their own time to become “community scientists” to conduct a noise assessment study.  Serious about forming an effective research team, we recruited residents with particular skills, including leadership, organizing, project management, field work, data analysis, and communication. We formed a small group in the Winter of 2017-18, and using one noise monitor that I donated to the group, we started the Beacon Hill Noise Study.

“Citizen science” has been an effective strategy for gathering environmental data for research. Whereas these efforts are usually structured so that lay people (citizen scientists) help traditional academic scientists collect data, our approach towards “community science” emphasizes the role of community members as scientists, with only academics providing advice.

The recent community microgrant from the Verity Credit Union (with Beacon Hill Merchants Association as our fiscal sponsor) allowed us to purchase additional monitors for the study. We also recently received a grant from the US EPA (through the community-based organization El Centro de la Raza), which has allowed us to hire two part-time student interns from the University of Washington this Summer 2018 to help residents collect noise measurements. Both our interns are undergraduate students studying in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

Beacon Hill Noise Team Student Interns

As a resident-led study without its own organization, we have been fortunate to be able to work with other established community organizations to raise funds.  Moreover, because of tremendous volunteer effort, the costs associated with collecting noise measurements has been quite modest.  A decent noise monitor and calibrator can be purchased for a few hundred dollars.  With the modest funding we have raised thus far, we have collected nearly 300 MB of noise data with 2 noise monitors.

Our goal is collect 24-hour noise measurements at outdoor locations throughout Beacon Hill. So far we have approximately 60 residents who have signed up, with interest in having noise measurements collected at their home.

As we continue to collect data and compute noise summary measures, such as 24-hour LEQ, LDN, and LDEN dBA levels, we intend to make these results publically available via an open access license. Our initial goals are modest, as we simply want to collect sufficient data to have a meaningul discussion about appropriate next steps for the study.  However, as we progress, we hope that the data may help connect residents with other nosie pollution stakeholders to move towards collective action to educate and build awareness, conduct futher research, and identify strategies for reducing noise pollution.

For more information about the project, contact Dr. Roseanne Lorenzana at contact@chacusa.org

 

Bitesome Team presents diet and nutrition tracking app at NIH mHealth Technology Showcase

Team Bitesome

The new Bitesome diet and nutrition tracking app was presented at the NIH mHealth Tech Showcase on June 4, 2018.

Part of the NIH MD2K initiative, the Tech Showcase highlighted recent advances in mHealth technologies and methods.

https://mhealth.md2k.org/2018-tech-showcase-home

Our poster illustrated the architecture of our app, and usage of cloud services, and real-time databases specifically, for managing large numbers of users.  We also document our use of food database API for nutritient content information.

Bitesome is currently available for use on the Android and iOS stores.  Visit the Bitesome.mobi website to learn more about the app.

PDF of our poster Research Symposium Poster FINAL_small