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Dear Campus Community:

Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared several items with you including our THEC performance funding score, efforts to expand our national visibility, our goal to grow the University’s enrollment 10% in the coming five years, and the remarkable performance of MD2K, our NIH Center of Excellence.  As we move towards a new legislative session, I will be pursuing support for a dedicated effort to advance the University of Memphis to the status of a nationally ranked public research university. I think few would argue that a state the size of ours deserves two such state universities. As the only institution in the Tennessee Board of Regents system classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as a Research University with High Activity (RU/HA) and the university with the largest Honors Program in the state, we are well positioned to achieve this goal.

After considerable thought and discussion it’s clear that to achieve our research aspirations we need to define our goal in clear terms. Becoming a nationally recognized research university is not a goal that can be reached without additional, targeted state support.  The impact of our research, scholarly and creative activity reaches well beyond the boundaries of Tennessee and stretches across the globe.  The depth and breadth of faculty expertise is impressive.  We have accomplished remarkable things with limited resources.  You’ll be hearing more about this effort in the coming months, and I hope you will support our efforts to attain this important goal.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd | President

Dear Campus Community:

Below you’ll find a summary table detailing our THEC performance funding score for this past academic year, 2014-2015.  As you can see, our total score is 90.5, representing very nice progress over the previous year’s score of 87.  This score is critical in the allocation of performance funding.  As the table details, the score encompasses two primary standards: 1. quality of student learning and engagement and 2. quality of student access and student success. We have expended considerable effort over the past two years to expand and enhance our assessment efforts, to increase our accessibility and resources targeting student success.  This year’s score indicates clear and steady progress.

In addition to a note of thanks, we’d also like to raise the bar. The University of Memphis offers an exceptional educational experience and we both believe that quality should be routinely reflected in a performance funding score of 95 or above.  We are in the process of establishing an Institutional Effectiveness Council, a group that will coordinate all of our assessment, accreditation, and related performance outcomes efforts. This will allow for coordinated and seamless integration of university-wide strategic planning, THEC, SACSCOC and other accreditation demands, along with helping us achieve optimal performance as an institution. We will keep you updated as the Council is launched in the coming weeks.

Thank you for your hard work and expertise.  We’re making noticeable progress, progress that is critical to the lives of our students and the broader Memphis community.

Warm Regards,

M. David Rudd | President

Dear Campus Community:

The MD2K Center, headquartered at the University of Memphis, is tasked with developing the software, tools, and science to use mobile sensor data to improve health. As its first year wraps up, the Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K) has made significant progress towards its goal of using mobile sensor data to realize precision medicine.  This includes facilitating the gathering, analysis, visualization and interpretation of health-related mobile sensor data. Such a capability is critical to discovering new insights on the role of behavioral and environmental context in the onset and progression of those diseases, which will lead to new methods for early detection and prevention. The ultimate goal is to develop timely and personalized mobile health interventions for early detection and prevention of adverse health events, which will help realize the vision of Precision Medicine, as articulated by President Obama in January.

The MD2K team comprises 20-plus faculty, 20-plus students, four staff and three software engineers, who work on 10 areas – mobile sensors, sensors-to-markers, markers-to-predictors, just-in-time intervention design, smoking cessation research, congestive heart failure research, MD2K-computation (big data software, including MD2K software), MD2K-Training, MD2K-consortium and MD2K-administration. The MD2K team is advised by the CTO of Microsoft (Dr. Harry Shum), President of St. Jude Medical (Dr. Eric Fain), Director of UCLA CTSI (Dr. Steve Dubinett) and a behavior change visionary and entrepreneur (Dr. Vic Strecher).

The University of Memphis recently hosted the entire MD2K research team at the FedEx Institute of Technology for its annual meeting (more details here).  More than 80 investigators, postdocs and students participated in the two-day event that brought together researchers and experts in the fields of computer science, statistics, behavioral health and healthcare from 16 institutions. Sessions were broadcast online for members of the mHealth community who were unable to attend in person.

In its first year of research, the MD2K team has made remarkable progress in converting mobile sensor data into markers of adverse health events and risk factors. This includes a multi-sensor approach for detecting when a newly abstinent smoker lapses for the first time in a smoking cessation attempt, which fulfills a long-standing need of the smoking research community. This computational model, called puffMarker, was led by Nazir Saleheen, a PhD student working with MD2K Director Dr. Santosh Kumar and was recently published at ACM UbiComp. (Full citations and links to this and other MD2K papers can be found here.)

A second work demonstrated the feasibility of detecting stress from heart beats and breathing patterns. This computational model, called cStress, was led by Dr. Karen Hovsepian, a former postdoc of Dr. Kumar (now a faculty member at Troy University) and published at ACM UbiComp. The cStress model has recently been shown to be informative and actionable in improving interaction among couples.

These two papers were among the 59 that the MD2K team has published in its first year. The majority of these articles have appeared in high-profile venues that include ACM UbiComp, ACM CHI, ACM Sigcomm, ACM MobiCom, IEEE CVPR, ACM SIGMOD, and ACM KDD in data science research, and Circulation, Nature Reviews Cardiology, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Drug & Alcohol Dependence, Psychophysiology, and Translational Behavioral Medicine, in health research. In addition, MD2K team has given 93 talks at 63 meetings in the past year.

The just-concluded MD2K annual meeting included a poster/demonstration session, which featured 22 posters and five demos. The posters detailed research featured in published work funded by the MD2K grant.  An archive of the posters and their abstracts can be found here.

MD2K software that will enable mobile sensor data collection, analysis, visualization and interpretation is scheduled to be released by the end of this year. This software will be used in designing and delivering just-in-time mobile intervention to reduce stress in smoking cessation studies with 800 daily smokers at Northwestern Medical School and Rice University.

For congestive heart failure (CHF) management, a pilot study has already commenced at the Ohio State Medical School to evaluate the EasySense sensor for early detection of worsening lung fluid congestion in CHF patients. This will be followed (in early 2016) by an outpatient study in 225 CHF patients.

Year one also witnessed a successful mHealth Training Institute at UCLA where 35 scholars from across the country (selected from 170 applicants) were trained in mHealth. The scholars came from 27 different institutions and represented 10 different disciplines. The scholars spent one-week at UCLA, where they were trained by 12 core faculty and 11 visiting faculty. They worked in an interdisciplinary team on a new mHealth project under close mentoring my mHealth experts. More information about the institute is available here.

Finally, MD2K has established close partnerships with two major corporations – Microsoft, which will contribute their Bands in MD2K user studies, and Procter & Gamble, which will contribute their smart toothbrushes for the oral health user studies.

Please join me in congratulating the MD2K Center of Excellence for a very successful and productive first year and the distinction the Center brings to the University of Memphis and the greater Mid-South biomedical community. We look forward to the continued research and advancements that will come from the Center’s work in the rapidly developing field of precision medicine.

M. David Rudd, President


09.30.2015 Ashfar

No matter where I find myself on campus, one thing remains true. Our faculty and students serve as a constant source of inspiration. The UofM is a place of transformation with countless stories of mentorship.

We’ve captured some of what moves us on video and want to share it with you. It only takes a few minutes to watch, and you’ll quickly see why, at the UofM, we are Driven by Doing.

M. David Rudd, President

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