Adaptive Interventions News | The Methodology Center

Adaptive Interventions News

October 21, 2014

Susan MurphyWe are delighted to announce that Methodology Center Principal Investigator Susan A. Murphy has been named a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. Susan’s record of innovation, particularly her development of the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART), has earned her many recent accolades, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 2013.


IOM is an independent, nonprofit organization. Members of the Institute seek to provide the best available evidence on matters related to health to inform decision making on medical matters by the government and public. Being named to the Institute of Medicine is a huge honor for any scientist working on public health issues. In 2011, The New York Times said, “The Institute of Medicine is the nation’s most esteemed and authoritative adviser on issues of health and medicine, and its reports can transform medical thinking around the world.”

October 20, 2014

MD2K Center for Excellence logoFour Methodology Center affiliated scientists, Susan Murphy, Inbal Nahum-Shani, David Conroy, and Bonnie Spring, are part of a new research center, the MD2K Center for Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge. MD2K’s mission is to develop tools and methods to gather and analyze data from mobile devices in order to facilitate the early detection and prevention of health problems. The new center is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) new Big Data to Knowledge initiative, which is also supporting Methodology Center Investigator Donna Coffman’s career development award


August 26, 2014

Danny AlmirallWe are pleased to announce this semester’s Taste of Methodology workshop on the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART) for constructing adaptive interventions. The December 16 workshop will be presented by Methodology Center Investigator Daniel Almirall, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.


Interventions that adapt at the right times can improve participant outcomes while decreasing the cost and burden of the intervention. SMART designs provide the data needed to construct high-quality adaptive interventions.


Taste of Methodology is a series of brief workshops for Penn State faculty that offers an overview of innovative methods along with lunch. This semester’s workshop will present the concepts and applications of SMART in order to give faculty an efficient way to assess SMART’s potential for their research. 


August 19, 2014

Susan Murphy: photo credit to MacArthur FoundationWe are pleased to announce that the University of Michigan has named Susan A. Murphy distinguished university professor for her research, leadership, and service. Susan is a Methodology Center principal investigator, Herbert E. Robbins Distinguished University Professor of statistics, research professor at the Institute for Social Research, and professor of psychiatry.


Susan's research focuses on development of innovative research approaches to improve the personalization of treatment. She developed the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART), which led to her being named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow in 2013. SMART is an experimental design tool that allows scientists to build empirically based interventions that adapt according to patient characteristics and response to treatment. While development of SMART continues, Susan is also investigating the construction of just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAIs), which use real-time data from mobile technologies to deliver personalized behavioral interventions exactly when interventions are needed.


Daniel Almirall and Billie Nahum-Shani

March 24, 2014

The application deadline for this year's Summer Institute on Innovative Methods, "Experimental Design and Analysis Methods for Developing Adaptive Interventions: Getting SMART" has been extended by one week. The new deadline is Monday, April 7.  


The institute will be presented by Daniel Almirall and Inbal Nahum-Shani, Methodology Center researchers at the University of Michigan. 

The workshop will focus on the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART) and its application for developing interventions that adapt to patient need. A limited number of scholarships are available.


The institute will be held June 19-20, 2014, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.    


Read more or apply.

Constantino LagoaMarch 5, 2014

In control engineering, devices continually monitor the performance of a system and then operate to control that system. Common examples include automobile thermostats and autopilot systems on commercial airliners. These same principles can be used to design behavioral interventions that adapt over time to help patients alter behaviors that affect their health. Potential applications include maintaining an exercise regimen, maintaining a healthy diet, or abstaining from tobacco or illicit drug use.


In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Methodology Center Investigators Constantino Lagoa, Stephanie Lanza, Susan Murphy, and their colleague Korkut Bekiroglu describe this new approach to building adaptive, intensive interventions. The authors show how data, in this case simulated smoking-cessation data, can be used to inform the design of an adaptive, intensive intervention by applying control-engineering techniques. This intervention, which is designed to provide treatment only when needed, is shown to improve effectiveness while decreasing patient burden. This approach holds great promise for informing clinical decisions and for informing the development of smartphone-based adaptive interventions. 

Daniel Almirall and Billie Nahum-ShaniFebruary 19, 2014

We are pleased to announce that Drs. Daniel Almirall and Inbal “Billie” Nahum-Shani, Methodology Center researchers at the University of Michigan, will be teaching this year’s Summer Institute on Innovative Methods, "Experimental Design and Analysis Methods for Developing Adaptive Interventions: Getting SMART.”


Sponsored by Penn State's Methodology Center and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the 19th summer institute will introduce adaptive interventions; provide the background needed to plan a sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART); and present the data analysis methods needed to construct adaptive interventions using SMART study data.


The institute will be held June 19-20, 2014, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Read more or apply

Seth KalichmanSeptember 27, 2013

The Penn State Methodology Center, in collaboration with Columbia University's School of Social Work, organized a two-day meeting of leading experts in HIV prevention and experts in methods for engineering better behavioral interventions on September 12 and13 in Bethesda, Maryland. The meeting gave methodologists insight into the state of HIV research and the challenges faced by HIV researchers. The HIV researchers were introduced to new methods for experimental design, specifically the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST) and the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART). Videos of the keynote addresses by Seth Kalichman and Rick Altice, and slides from all presenters are available below.


We thank the National Institute on Drug Abuse (through R13-020334 and P50-DA10075), the Office of AIDS Research, and the Office of Behavior and Social Science Research for their generous support of this meeting.

Read more and see available presentations

September 25, 2013

Methodology Center Principal Investigator Susan Murphy was named a MacArthur fellow today. Susan is one of 24 people from all walks of life—choreographers, physicists, a pianist, a physician, and a paleobotanist to name a few—to be recognized this year. Susan is being honored for her work developing the sequential, multiple assignment, randomized trial (SMART). SMART designs provide scientists with the empirical tools to build adaptive interventions, treatment rules that dictate whether, how, and when to alter treatment for patients. SMARTs are currently being used to build better treatments for a broad range of health problems including cocaine abuse, depression, alcohol abuse, ADHD, autism, and bipolar disorder.


Susan is H. E. Robbins Professor of Statistics, professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and research professor in the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. She has been a principal investigator at the Methodology Center since its inception in 1995.


Susan is a brilliant investigator and a wonderful person; this award is richly deserved. We treasure everything—both scientific and personal—that she has contributed to the Center. We look forward to the continued development and implementation of SMART and to Susan’s new work on just-in-time adaptive interventions. Congratulations Susan!

Read Susan’s profile on the MacArthur Foundation’s website

Workshop Explores Just-In-Time, Adaptive InterventionsSeptember 4, 2013

The boom in mobile devices like smartphones has created new possibilities for treating a broad spectrum of health behaviors. An initiative at the University of Michigan involving several Methodology Center researchers is dedicated to developing learning algorithms, statistical analyses, and clinical trial designs to make the best use of mobile technologies to deliver personalized behavioral interventions. These interventions are known as just-in-time, adaptive interventions (JITAIs). In JITAIs, real-time data is used to inform the real-time delivery of an intervention. Similar to the adaptive interventions developed using sequential, multiple assignment randomized trials (SMARTs), JITAIs employ decision rules that link the data about the patient to subsequent treatment options. Unlike standard adaptive interventions, however, JITAIs are able to provide patients with immediate treatment that is salient to their specific circumstances. JITAIs are able to learn and re-learn, in real-time, how best to adapt treatment for the individual patient.

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