UCLA Depression Grand Challenge external collaborator Denzil Ferreira receives 5-year fellowship to develop depression monitoring & treatment technology

May 17, 2018
The Depression Grand Challenge hosted Denzil Ferreira (second to right) and collaborators from the University of Oulu Center for Ubiquitous Computing in November 2018.
Christopher Douglas (UCLA)

The UCLA Depression Grand Challenge (DGC) is honored to share that Denzil Ferreira’s (Deputy Director of the Center for Ubiquitous Computing research unit) was awarded a 5-year fellowship from the Academy of Finland. This fellowship will fund the development and refinement of the Entropy-AWARE Instrumentation for Just-In-Time Anomalous Human Behaviour Interventions (SENSATE). This technology is a central piece of the DGC providing remote monitoring to offer a safety net or alert system for behaviors that indicate a patient might be at risk for increasing anxiety and depression.

The Academy of Finland awards funding to researchers in a wide range of fields, from the postdoctoral fellow to professorial level, all with the hope of catalyzing scientific breakthroughs. The work of Dr. Denzil Ferreira is helping in many aspects of the DGC, and is affiliated with one of the DGC’s collaborator universities, the University of Oulu in Finland.

Dr. Ferreira explains that SENSATE, “will add a crucial piece of the depression puzzle by providing objective measures for identifying depression and systematically tracking its course over time.” Introducing a more objective way of collecting behavioral data from people suffering from depression will allow clinicians to track changes in symptoms and implement just-in-time interventions if the patient presents anomalous behaviors.

The research being conducted by Dr. Ferreira is central for the DGC as it offers to transform how we measure and monitor mental health. As of now, the way we diagnose and assess symptoms of anxiety and depression is predominantly subjective and delayed in response. Just-in-time symptom tracking enables clinicians to timely intervene if behavioral data suggests that the person being monitored is at risk.

The DGC is proud to have international partnerships with experts like Denzil Ferreira, who when asked why he joined this effort, said, “Helping people is what drew me to the [DGC]. It’s very rewarding to me.” The DGC would also like to thank the Academy of Finland for funding this critical work.

Read more about the project.