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Digital biomarkers: an initiative to help researchers navigate new reality & roles

A joint vision from MOBILISE-D and IDEA-FAST to strengthen R&D in the area of remote monitoring

Image by lucadp via Shutterstock
Image by lucadp via Shutterstock


Advances in technology have ushered in a new era of remote digital assessment whereby metrics about a patient’s wellbeing are measured via wearable devices, smartphones and apps that can provide objective data in real-world situations. The skills needed to manipulate, manage and develop these new systems and analyse the data they produce will come from a new generation of experts. Two IMI projects working in the field have announced the creation of a standalone entity that will help train and support the researchers and clinicians who will work in this exciting field to maximise the rate of technology uptake and impact.  

Mobilise-D and IDEA-FAST created the Digital Health Catalyst (DHC) in response to the growing need for research and application in the area of real-world digital measurements. According to a statement from Prof Lynn Rochester, coordinator of Mobilise-D and Prof Wan Fai Ng, coordinator of IDEA-FAST, the DHC intends to foster the next generation of early career researchers and clinicians in the field of digital healthcare. It will bring together “the collective expertise in digital health across the two IMI consortia for maximum learning, collaboration and impact."

"The field will require a new generation of personnel from areas including clinical research and application, sensor and hardware development, infrastructure and data handling, data processing and software development,” say the coordinators. 

Accepted methods like questionnaires are subjective and don’t quite capture changes in the severity of a person’s condition. If remote assessment and the use of digital biomarkers as indicators of health are to be adopted widely, priorities will have to be established with regards to education and training, career pathways, cross-disciplinary opportunities and requirements for support and development. During the DHC launch event in March, early career researchers listed their priorities as skills development, exchange programmes and internships, engaging with the various relevant stakeholders and attending seminars. The DHC will be a standalone sustainable entity that can attract funding and expand its remit to additional areas to promote and catalyse the field of digital health.

Mobilise-D is working on digital mobility assessment in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and recovery from proximal femoral fracture. IDEA-FAST is working to identify digital endpoints to assess fatigue, sleep disturbances and activities of daily living in neurodegenerative disorders and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Sjögren’s Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel disease.


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