Robert Wood Johnson Partners With Cornell To Develop An Android-based ResearchKit Framework

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding a large-scale development initiative that will help researchers port their iOS ResearchKit apps into the Android marketplace with minimal effort or duplicate coding. The project is being funded by RWJF, while development of the new framework is being handled by the Small Data Lab at Cornell University, as well as Open mHealth and Touchlab.

Robert Wood Johnson Partners With Cornell To Develop An Android-based ResearchKit Framework

The overarching goal of the initiative is to “help developers and researchers with existing apps on iOS more easily adapt those apps for Android.” Apple launched ResearchKit in March 2015, and mainstream adoption has come quickly. Since its launch, researchers from prestigious academic facilities have flocked to ResearchKit, including Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Duke University, Yale University, Stanford Medicine, the University of Oxford, and Cornell University. The framework is currently being used to collect data on autism, epilepsy, melanoma, pregnancy complications, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

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MIT Researchers Unveil SmartPill That Monitors Vital Signs

MIT researchers working from the university’s Lincoln Laboratory and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research have co-developed a new ingestible smartpill that monitors core body temperature, respiration rate, and heart rate as it travels through a patient’s digestive system. The team’s progress was published in this month’s PLOS One journal. Researchers hope to see the technology rolled out to improve patient monitoring in hospitals, as well as to support soldiers and athletes.

MIT Researchers Unveil SmartPill That Monitors Vital Signs

The pill contains a miniaturized thermometer as well as a microphone and a small antenna. The thermometer tracks core temperature, while the microphone is used to record and analyze heart and lung sounds. An antenna then transmits the temperature and raw audio data to an external receiver, boasting a communications range of 10 feet, impressive given that the entire device is smaller than an almond. Once the information has left the body, researchers are able to process the audio data to calculate both respiration rate and heart rate. The device itself is only expected to remain in the digestive track for a day or two before being passed, making it optimal for patients that would benefit from short-term monitoring, but not ideal for patients that require long-term monitoring.

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Andreessen Horowitz Launches $200 Million Digital Health Investment Fund

Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announces a new $200 million investment fund that it will direct entirely toward biotechnology startups. The fund will be led by Vijay Pande, a new general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Pande comes to Andreessen Horowitz from Stanford University, where he was the director of the biophysics program and taught chemistry, computer science, and biology. During his tenure, he oversaw computer science-based research on Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and cancer. He also won a Guinness Book of World Records title for building the world’s most powerful supercomputer, hitting processing speeds of up to one petaflop.

Andreessen Horowitz Launches $200 Million Digital Health Investment Fund

Under Pande’s leadership, Andreessen Horowitz will target startups operating at the intersection of biology and machine learning, an area the company is calling “computational biomedicine.”  He explains, “Because the cost of sensors are going to zero, the cost of things like genomic sequencing are going to zero…. It creates an interesting situation where so much is available to us right now. What’s left is the software to put it all together.” Pande cites deep learning-based image analysis applications that support radiology, pathology, dermatology, and ophthalmology as prime examples of startups working at the intersection he is interested in investing.

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Akibah Launches Indiegogo Campaign For Smartphone Case Glucometer

San Jose-based digital health startup Akibah has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds and awareness as it finalizes its development of a smartphone case that doubles as a stand-alone glucometer. Akibah was launched in 2013, and was incubated in Kansas City in 2014 as a member of the Techstars accelerator partnership with Sprint. Outside of the limited funding received from Sprint, Akibah has raised no publically disclosed venture funding to date. Despite this obstacle, the team has created a prototype glucometer that is now the centerpiece of a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising $50,000 in the next month.

Akibah Launches Indiegogo Campaign For Smartphone Case Glucometer

The team behind Akibah includes Larry Ellingson, former chair of the American Diabetes Association and executive director of diabetes care at Eli Lilly. Ellingson is the CEO of Akibah, alongside founder and COO Fathi Abdelsalam. Abdelsalam has no healthcare background, having worked in the US Patent office prior to launching Akibah. At launch, Akibah set its sites on building innovative hardware to support chronic disease management across a multitude of diagnoses, but will target diabetes first and, with Ellingson on board, has the leadership in place to make a serious run at the market.

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PatientPing Raises $9.6 Million Venture Round To Ramp Up Care Coordination Network

Boston-based digital health startup PatientPing announces that it has closed a $9.6 million investment round led by Google Ventures and FPrime Capital, Fidelity’s investment arm. First Round Capital and SV Angel also participated in the round. The funding is PatientPing’s first publically disclosed outside investment, and will be used to ramp up its growing care coordination network and hire on new staff members.

PatientPing Raises $9.6 Million Venture Round To Ramp Up Care Coordination Network

PatientPing was founded by Jay Desai, a former CMS employee who left his job working on ACO policy to build a technology startup focused on helping solve some of the problems ACOs are experiencing. From his unique vantage within CMS, Desai says that early ACOs struggle with tracking patients who receive care outside of their own health systems. A key ingredient to any successful ACO program is a well-conceived care coordination program that ensures patients are receiving care in low-cost settings, and that key treatment details are not being lost during transitions of care. Desai found that despite a massive effort to improve care coordination within ACO networks, there was still a business opportunity to helping ACOs improve care coordination with outside organizations.

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Deep Learning Steals The Show At Singularity’s Exponential Medicine Conference

Last week, Singularity University held its annual xMed conference, an invite-only, four-day event held in San Diego that draws a who’s who of entrepreneurs and researchers working at the intersection of computer science and medicine. The conference offers industry leaders an opportunity to update the audience on advances in medicine made across the fields of artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, 3D printing, smartphone-based clinical trial management, genome sequencing, virtual reality, and the ongoing effort to incorporate patient-generated health data into care delivery in a meaningful way.

Deep Learning Steals The Show At Singularity’s Exponential Medicine Conference

Among the presenters that shared the stage during the kickoff ceremony was Jeremy Howard, a machine learning expert brought on stage to discuss the migration from basic machine learning algorithms to deep learning and artificial neural networks. His accomplishments in the field are extensive, and include positions as the president and chief scientist of renowned data science community Kaggle, as well as holding data science teaching positions at the University of San Francisco and Singularity University, where he sits as the youngest faculty on staff. He co-developed the Perl programming language, and successfully launched and sold two big data-based startups. Now, he is the CEO of Enlitic, a startup using deep learning algorithms to analyze medical images in search of small, easily overlooked tumors. Notably, however, Howard is completely new to medicine.

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Fossil Makes Wearables Play With $260 Million Misfit Acquisition

Texas-based watchmaker Fossil is making a late entry into the overcrowded and hyper-litigious activity tracker market with a reported $260 million acquisition of Misfit Wearables. The acquisition will be the largest in the industry, topping Intel’s $100 million acquisition of Basis in 2014, and Jawbone’s 2013 acquisition of BodyMedia for a price rumored to be north of $100 million as well. The transition will bring Misfit CEO and co-founder Sonny Vu to Fossil as the president and CTO of connected devices.

Fossil Makes Wearables Play With $260 Million Misfit Acquisition

It’s certainly an interesting time to be moving into activity trackers for Fossil. Other major brands like Nike and Under Armour are building digital ecosystems, but are sitting out the hardware fight. Nike sunset its FuelBand activity tracker in 2014 and realigned its staff to expand the Nike+ platform instead. Under Armour avoided the space to begin with, acquiring exercise app MyFitnessPal for $475 million and fitness community app Endomondo for $85 million, but stayed away from hardware after its own failed experiment with a fitness tracker product line. The remaining major players in the fitness tracker market are Fitbit, Jawbone, and Intel’s Basis product line. Fitbit and Jawbone are entrenched in a legal battled that now includes four lawsuits and a countersuit, all filed in the last year. Most concerning, however, is the growing speculation that it’s just a matter of time before major consumer electronics vendors, namely Samsung and Apple, get their smartwatch offerings dialed in enough to decimate the activity tracker market in the same way that smartphones replaced MP3 players and GPS devices.

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TigerText Raises $50 Million Series C For HIPAA-Compliant Messaging

Santa Monica, CA-based digital health startup TigerText announces that it has just closed a $50 million Series C funding round led by new investor Norwest Venture Partners. The round also welcomes new investors Invus Group and Accolade Partners, and attracts return investments from Shasta Ventures, OrbiMed, and Reed Elsevier, all of whom participated in TigerText’s January 2014 Series B. Norwest partner Robert Mittendorff, MD will join the TigerText Board of Directors. The new round brings TigerText’s total raised to $81.1 million.

TigerText Raises $50 Million Series C For HIPAA-Compliant Messaging

TigerText launched in 2010 marketing a HIPAA-compliant text-messaging solution to help providers communicate more efficiently. The adage “Only doctors and drug dealers use pagers” used to be true, but times have changed and now it’s just doctors left communicating on the archaic devices. Pagers are cheap, reliable, and pose little risk of exposing PHI considering that they are only capable of receiving, and not transmitting, information. Over time, smartphone proliferation has created an environment in which providers, right or wrong, began communicating over text and email regardless of HIPAA or ethical concerns. This shift introduced a market opportunity for TigerText and others operating in the same space.

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