U-M Launches New Collaborative to Accelerate Health Research Utilizing Mobile Technologies


Julie Perez

The University of Michigan has formed a new research collaborative designed to increase knowledge sharing and create a single access point for U-M investigators who are looking to use wearables, apps or other mobile technologies in their health research. The Mobile Technologies Research Innovation Collaborative, or MeTRIC, is a campus-wide initiative designed to promote collaboration and remove barriers for investigators.

“Our goal is to break down the silos around mobile technologies health research, create a culture of sharing best practices and resources, and develop infrastructure that makes incorporating mobile technologies accessible to all U-M investigators,” said Cathy Goldstein, M.D., faculty lead for the Mobile Technologies Core at the Eisenberg Family Depression Center, and professor at the U-M Sleep Disorders Center.

The collaborative aims to build connections, share knowledge and reduce redundant work across the University – creating a clear path for researchers looking to utilize mobile technologies. Organizers believe the work will enable investigators to ask novel questions that lead to groundbreaking research and notable advances in health research.

“Investigators looking for data sources often start with the Data Office,” said Erin Kaleba, MeTRIC member and administrative director for the Data Office for Clinical & Translational Research at U-M Medical School. “I’m thrilled to be part of this group to share our collective resources and expertise, creating efficiencies and supporting the diverse research community we serve.”

The collaborative–founded by the Eisenberg Family Depression Center (EFDC), Precision Health, and the Department of Anesthesiology–includes multidisciplinary units from across U-M’s campus. The combined expertise of MeTRIC partners provides a solid foundation of knowledge spanning the entire research cycle.

“Using mobile technologies in human subjects research can be complex and no one group can be an expert in all areas. MeTRIC brings all the parts together to share and build knowledge in a cohesive and efficient manner,” said Brahmajee Nallamothu, M.D., co-director of Precision Health, and professor in the Michigan Medicine Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and the Department of Internal Medicine at U-M.

Clearing a path for investigators

Cost, availability and the public’s use of wearables for personal health monitoring have resulted in widespread interest from the health research community. However, building the technical expertise and infrastructure needed to incorporate these technologies into research in meaningful and rigorous ways can take investigators years.

“We expect MeTRIC to reduce the ‘activation energy’ required to initiate studies that use mobile technologies and improve efficiency, rigor and reproducibility in an equitable manner for all researchers, regardless of experience and resources,” said Goldstein.

For many researchers, knowing where to start is often the largest hurdle. With experts and resources dispersed across U-M and no central office coordinating efforts, investigators are often unclear where to go for support.

“Locating the right resources at an institution as robust as U-M can be daunting. MeTRIC consolidates the information and resources an investigator needs to get started into one place,” said Sachin Kheterpal, M.D., M.B.A., associate dean for Research Information Technology at U-M Medical School, and professor of Anesthesiology.

Resources for health researchers

MeTRIC will also provide strategic direction for the EFDC’s mobile tech affinity groups, which include data analysts, study coordinators and those with a general research interest in mobile technologies. Each group provides unique learning opportunities and resources that build the capacity of research teams utilizing mobile technologies in research. These groups are open to all U-M research teams or units looking to be a part of MeTRIC.

The EFDC Mobile Technologies Core provides consultative services to U-M investigators who are interested in adding mobile tech to their studies, regardless of the investigator's research focus area. These consultations provide concrete resources, technology recommendations and referrals to MeTRIC partners when appropriate, helping to streamline the process for investigators.

Are you a U-M investigator looking for guidance on a mobile health study? Request a mobile consult

Learn more about MeTRIC

MeTRIC Symposium Nov. 10

MeTRIC is hosting U-M’s first mobile technology in health research symposium on Nov. 10 at the North Campus Research Complex. The in-person, networking event will disseminate the latest research using wearables and other mobile technologies, showcase resources available at U-M, and foster collaboration within the research community. The event is open to all U-M investigators, faculty and staff. Registration is required. Reserve your spot