Research Overview

Developing a better understanding of how life stress leads to the onset of psychiatric disorders, such as major depression, has the potential to transform our ability to prevent and treat these disorders. Unfortunately, our capacity to capture the effects of stress accurately and in real-time has been limited because the assessment of psychiatric phenotypes has traditionally relied on the long-term recall and self-report of symptoms by affected individuals. Mobile electronic technology holds great promise in overcoming these limitations and providing richer and more meaningful data to follow and understand the progression from stress to disease.

Because it is almost impossible to prospectively predict the onset of stress and depression in a large group of subjects however, mobile electronic technology studies conducted to date have been small and largely focused on patients already experiencing psychiatric symptoms. In order to advance, there is a critical need to understand the temporal relationship between stress and depression with real-time, objective measures.

At the completion of this project, it is our expectation that we will have identified mobile signatures that change with stress and prospectively predict changing levels of depressive symptoms. Further, it is our expectation that we will establish a nimble platform well positioned to rapidly assess new mobile electronic assessment and intervention technologies and as they emerge. These anticipated advances would have an important positive impact in the elucidation of causal mechanisms linking stress and depression and efforts to identify those at risk for mental illness in real time.

Research Team

  • Srijan Sen MD, PhD, Co-Prinicipal Investigator at University of Michigan. Dr. Sen is Associate Professor in the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan and the Principal Investigator of the overall Intern Health Study..
  • Margit Burmeister PhD, Co-Principal Investigator at University of Michigan. Dr. Burmeister is Professor in the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute and the Departments of Human Genetics and Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics at the University of Michigan. Dr. Burmeister has more than 30 years research experience in investigating the genetics of behavioral and brain disorders and has led multiple US-China collaboration projects.
  • Weidong Li MD, PhD, Principal Investigator at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Dr. Li is Professor & Vice Dean, Bio-X Institutes and Deputy Director, Research Management Division at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Dr. Li focuses on the mechanism and therapeutic of neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Kerby Shedden PhD, Co-Investigator at University of Michigan. Dr. Shedden is Professor of Statistics and Biostatistics and Director of Consulting for Statistics, Computing and Analytics Research (CSCAR) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Shedden’s research focuses on computational statistics, and methods for modeling complex dependent data including multilevel, longitudinal, and spatial/temporal data, with a particular focus on studies involving high dimensional biological data, including genomics, biological imaging, statistical genetics, chemical informatics, health outcomes, and medical claims data.
  • Zhuo (Joan) Zhao MS, Data Manager at University of Michigan. Ms. Zhao is the Lead Data Manager and Data Analyst for the Intern Health Study at the University of Michigan. Ms. Zhao has been a Data Analyst for the Intern Health Study for over three years and co-led the pilot study of interns at Peking Union Medical College Hospital.
  • Zhen Wang MD, PhD, Vice-Chief Psychiatrist. Dr. Wang is the Director of Research & Education Management Office in the Shanghai Mental Health Center. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on the structural and functional neuroimaging, biochemical analysis in studying in anxiety related disorders and those at genetic risk, personality, childhood trauma, perceived stress and cognitive psychological function.
  • Ying Zhou PhD, Research Assistant in Bio-X institutes of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Ms. Zhou’s research focuses on the mechanism of depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders and the neuronal circuit of learning and memory.
  • Li-hong Chen MS, Hospital Administration Dept. director of the GME office in Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.