FSU Research Team Receives 2021 AHIC Best Interdisciplinary Research Award

An FSU interdisciplinary research team, led by Dr. Zhe He, has received the Best Interdisciplinary Research Award from the 2021 Aging and Health Informatics Conference (AHIC) for its presentation “Machine Learning-Based Predictions of Older Adults’ Adherence to Technology-Based Cognitive Training”.

Dr. He is joined by FSU faculty members, including Dr. Neil Charness (Psychology), Dr. Shayok Chakraborty (Computer Science), Dr. Mia Liza A. Lustria (Information), and Dr. Walter R. Boot (Psychology). FSU doctoral candidates Shubo Tian (Statistics) and Ankita Singh (Computer Science) were also a part of the team.

zhe he headshot

Their study was rooted in computer-based training intended to enhance cognitive ability in senior adults. In a previously conducted clinical trial, 118 participants were given a tablet and asked to play a suite of cognitive training games developed by APTIMA, Inc. at home for twelve weeks. Researchers used the data collected from this trial to build machine learning models to predict overall and weekly adherence to the training plan for each participant. Their study provides the basis for developing technology-based interventions for promoting adherence to cognitive training among senior adults. “A rapidly growing older population in the US is accompanied by a higher prevalence of non-normative cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. Yet, there is still no treatment for such diseases,” said Dr. He. “Cognitive training is a promising approach in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and such training requires a high level of adherence. This project demonstrates how machine learning can be used to predict adherence to technology-based cognitive training programs among older adults. An accurate prediction of adherence level during the training can support the development of just-in-time interventions for adherence promotion.”

The FSU research team was one of two awardees chosen for this distinction, and was honored at the 2021 AHIC conference on December 7th, 2021. Dr. He emphasizes the value of interdisciplinary research, and says that this award reaffirmed that belief. He told CCI, “In my research career, I have been conducting interdisciplinary research, which is highly valued in the area of health informatics. This award encouraged me to keep crossing disciplinary boundaries and learning new terminologies and cultures, with the goal of improving population health and advancing health research.”

Dr. He is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Information and Chair of the MSIT program. Much of his research is interdisciplinary in nature, and he holds courtesy appointments with the College of Medicine and the Department of Computer Science. He has had over ninety papers published in leading informatics venues, and earlier this year, he was recognized as a Fellow of AMIA. As Principal Investigator, his research has been funded by National Institutes of Health, Eli Lilly and Company, Amazon, NVIDIA, FSU Office of Research, and Institute for Successful Longevity.

To read more about the distinction, visit https://sites.utexas.edu/ahic/