Panel Discussion on the Future of Behavioral Forecasting (TIPS 2018)

This panel was part of the 2018 Technology in Psychiatry Summit, an event sponsored by the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry, which occurred November 1-2, 2018 at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

From planetary science to meteorology to economics, forecasting future events accurately often marks an important milestone in the development of a technology or science, where uncertainty is gradually reduced, either through trial-and-error or often by increasingly granular mechanistic understanding of the system. In some sense the holy grail of a technology-based approach to psychiatry, understanding the brain and human behavior with sufficient precision to accurately forecast future properties of a neural circuit or of a human being undergoing treatment for a mental health condition would transform our ability to tailor illness monitoring, circuit-based interventions, and care delivery based on those predictions. In this session, our panelists discuss where the field of forecasting mental health outcomes is likely headed over the next 2-5 years.


Justin T. Baker, MD, PhD, is the scientific director of the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry. He also serves as director of the Functional Neuroimaging and Bioinformatics for the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Research Program at McLean, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and associate director of the MGH Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior. His work aims to develop efficient strategies to monitor and intervene the course of mental illness.

Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD, is the K. Ranga Rama Krishnan Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University. His research interests focus on using neural technology to understand how changes in the brain produce neurological and mental illness. Dr. Dzirasa is the recipient of numerous awards, including the International Mental Health Research Organization Rising Star Award and the 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is the first African American to complete a PhD in Neurobiology at Duke, and he completed his medical residency in psychiatry in 2016.

Srijan Sen, MD, PhD, is the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Professor of Depression and Neurosciences in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the interactions between genes and the environment and their effect on stress, anxiety, and depression. He also has a particular interest in medical education, and leads a large multi-institution study that uses medical internship as a model of stress to determine genetic factors involved in moderating the relationship between stress and depression. He has also studied the relationship between duty hour requirements in medical training and medical errors.

Adam Chekroud, PhD, is an adjunct assistant professor of Psychiatry at Yale University. His research seeks to improve treatment outcomes in mental health, particularly depression, by using large existing datasets to anticipate barriers to treatment and likely illness course. His research has been featured in JAMA Psychiatry, Lancet Psychiatry, Molecular Psychiatry, and PNAS. He is also co-founder of a mental health startup called Spring Health, based in New York City. Spring works with large employers like GAP and Whole Foods to provide their employees with free and immediate access to high-quality mental healthcare.

Laura Germine, PhD, is the technical director of the McLean Institute for Technology in Psychiatry, the director of the Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology at McLean Hospital, and an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Germine’s research is oriented around understanding cognitive functioning in health and disease, as well as building technology for studying cognition and behavior using the web and mobile devices. She created one of the first online neuropsychological laboratories in 2005, which later became, a platform that has attracted over 1.7 million research participants.

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