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Phil Jenkins Award for Innovation in Depression Treatment

In 2011, the University of Michigan received a gift from local business entrepreneur and community leader Phil F. Jenkins to stimulate creative ideas about ways to improve treatment or self-management of depression. The award is intended to empower students and faculty to bring creative ideas to life, such as new diagnostic tests, treatment strategies, clinical monitoring approaches, or emerging products that would improve overall wellness.

Danielle M. Novick, Ph.D.
Mood Self-Monitoring and Text-Messaging: A Unique Approach to Understanding and Improving Mental Health Treatment Engagement and Adherence(2012)

Dr. Novick’s project will identify ways that current technology might allow individuals to better monitor their moods, increase their treatment engagement and adherence, and also help guide mental health care providers in making more informed and personalized treatment decisions for their patients. 

The Jenkins-funded project will add a powerful new dimension to Dr. Novick’s existing research. She currently uses actigraphs to measure a person’s daily physical activity and light exposure, information that can then be used to estimate some of the body’s biological rhythms. Because many effective treatments for depression and bipolar disorder are believed to work in part by shifting, re-setting, or stabilizing the body’s biological rhythms, understanding how these rhythmic changes are connected to mood and functioning is critical to ensure treatments are successful.

For several months, actigraph-wearing research participants (recruited from the Prechter Bipolar Longitudinal study) will be prompted daily with a text message reminder to report their current mood, using their cell phone.  Integrating the text message information with actigraph data will provide “real-time” information about the relationship between an individual’s biological rhythms, daily routines and mood.

“I am very grateful to Mr. Jenkins for this award. This will allow us to use technology to develop novel ways to help individuals with depression and bipolar disorder, and hopefully encourage them to take a more active role in the management of their illnesses,” Dr. Novick says.