Fogarty launches program to advance mHealth research

January / February 2014 | Volume 13, Issue 1

Close up of hands using a hand-held electronic device to enter data using a stylus, other hands point to show instructions
Photo by David Snyder for Fogarty/NIH

Fogarty has launched a new funding program to
advance the use of mobile technologies to improve
health, especially in low-resource settings.

Fogarty has launched a new program to encourage further development of mobile technology and research into how it can be used to improve health, especially in low-resource countries. Although cellphones and other new technologies are increasingly used in research and health care, very limited data are available to determine their impact.

The new initiative, Mobile Health: Technology and Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), aims to support multidisciplinary teams to research possible new mHealth tools or interventions either for chronic diseases or for an array of other health issues.

The request for applications encourages research projects that focus on the adaptation, optimization and evaluation of mHealth tools or interventions to prevent, diagnose, manage and treat chronic diseases. Proposals may also involve adapting or evaluating crosscutting mHealth applications that are not disease-specific. Applications should have a strong emphasis on the evaluation of health-related outcomes of the tool or intervention proposed. Technology development or project implementation proposals are also acceptable, as long as outcomes-based research is included.

The mHealth technology being developed or adapted should address a well-defined LMIC need and should be appropriate for use in that setting. In addition, interoperability and integration with other health information systems should be considered. As with most Fogarty grants, this program requires partnerships between U.S. and LMIC institutions, which will together build LMIC capacity, through relevant research training, career development, mentoring and technology transfer.

Since mHealth involves many different areas of expertise, the program encourages collaborations among researchers in fields such as behavioral science, engineering, computer science, business, medicine and public health. Fogarty will fund relevant research training, career development, mentoring and technology transfer.

Fogarty's program, by focusing on the problems and constraints in LMIC environments, should help produce more effective mHealth interventions and tools and, ultimately, encourage more involvement of LMIC business, hospitals or governments.

NIH partners include the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health and Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. Applicants may request up to $125,000 direct costs per year for up to two years.

The first deadline for applications is February 19, 2014.

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