Newswise — New York, NY (August 13, 2021) - The Nash Family Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics (C-ACT) at Mount Sinai, a multi-disciplinary center focused on innovative research strategies to advance the use of deep brain stimulation and other therapies to treat patients with medication-resistant neuropsychiatric disorders, has partnered with Studio Elsewhere, a New York City-based technology and design studio focused on brain health, to launch Q-Lab. Based at Mount Sinai West, Q-Lab is an immersive, interactive multi-modal research environment for comprehensive assessment and rehabilitative care of deep brain stimulation patients and surgery candidates across neuropsychiatric disorders including depression, Parkinson’s disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, and others.  

Funded by a grant from the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, Studio Elsewhere engineered Q-Lab as a platform to quantitatively measure movement, emotion, and cognition while patients engage with novel immersive and interactive experiences. Inspired by Japanese tea houses and gardens, the design of Q-Lab offers a restorative experience to patients upon entering. Through their 30-minute sessions, patients undergo novel and imaginative assessments, providing both a robust quantitative research environment for scientists and an enriching qualitative experience for patients.

“Q-Lab is a remarkable milestone for C-ACT, reflecting our mission to embed research within the clinic without partly arbitrary disease or departmental silos, and to push conventional boundaries of research and care for deep brain stimulation patients,” said Helen S. Mayberg, MD, a neurologist renowned for her study of brain circuits in depression, and founding director of the Nash Family Center. “Q-Lab represents a unique synergy of science and design and is an important step towards realizing our greater team mission of personalized, evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation.”

To create Q-Lab, Studio Elsewhere developed custom bio-experiential immersive experiences, as well as a sophisticated bioinformation data-collection platform that allows for vast amounts of open-ended data to be amassed. This infrastructure enables artificial intelligence/machine learning and other computational methods to detect more subtle changes in behavior than can be observed with conventional approaches so that a patient’s progress through treatment can be quantitatively measured and the treatment plan adjusted accordingly. Q-Lab will be an incubator for new research projects at C-ACT with an emphasis on development of novel biomarkers to guide patient selection, monitor treatment response, and predict outcomes for deep brain stimulation patients across diagnoses.

“Q-Lab showcases what is possible when a committed team of neuroscientists, clinicians, designers, engineers, artists, and creative technologists collaborate directly with patients to push conventional ideas of research and care into something extraordinary for the entire ecosystem,” explains Mirelle Phillips, a designer, video game industry veteran, and Studio Elsewhere founder. “We’re thrilled to show an imaginative and unique vision for artificial intelligence, machine learning and immersive technology in scientific research that centers the multi-dimensionality of each patient and deeply considers the experience of their treatment and recovery.” 

About the Nash Family Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics at Mount Sinai
The Nash Family Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics at Mount Sinai (C-ACT) is a transdisciplinary program co-localized with the Center for Neuromodulation at Mount Sinai West. C-ACT develops and tests new brain-tuning strategies to accelerate the delivery of state-of-the-art individualized surgical treatments for patients with advanced neuropsychiatric disorders—be it those where brain stimulation therapies are already approved for clinical use (e.g., DBS for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, OCD and pain) or more experimental applications such as depression, dementia, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addiction. C-ACT brings together neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists with neuroimaging specialists, electrophysiologists, data scientists, engineers and basic neuroscientists to address unmet clinical need through research and to rethink the way neuromodulation treatments are developed, personalized and delivered to patients. Agnostic to classical neurological and psychiatric categories, which are partly arbitrary, C-ACT provides a new model of patient-focused research with the common goal of restoring mood, motor and cognitive function by correcting circuit abnormalities using targeted neuromodulation.   

About Studio Elsewhere
Studio Elsewhere uses evidence-based and data-driven practices to develop virtual and physical interventions that promote brain health. They are pioneers of bio-experiential design -- interactive, immersive environmental design using technology and physical design toward a healthier brain-body connection. Their embedded emerging technology solutions support the needs of healthcare professionals, researchers, patients, and caregivers.  They use software and hardware development, original content, emerging technology, immersive game design, and biophilic design to reimagine the experience of health, wellness, and care. Founded and led by Mirelle Phillips, a Latina innovator in experiential design and technology, Studio Elsewhere is guided by an equitable-design model and committed to rapidly scaling innovative solutions to serve vulnerable populations. Their model allows the team to develop a first-of-its-kind technology and design practice that leads with compassion, imagination, and inclusivity. Studio Elsewhere was chosen to design the first ever New York City pavilion at the 2021 London Design Biennale as well as the United Nations Pavilion at the 2021 World Expo.

About Hope for Depression Research Foundation (HDRF)
HDRF's mission is to fund the most innovative neuroscience research into the origins, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of depression and other mood disorders – postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder and suicide. In 2010, HDRF launched its Depression Task Force – an outstanding collaboration of nine leading scientists, at the frontiers of brain science, from different research institutions across the U.S. and Canada. These scientists have developed an unprecedented research strategy that integrates the most advanced knowledge in genetics, epigenetics, molecular biology, electrophysiology, and brain imaging. To accelerate breakthrough research, they share ongoing results, in real time, at the HDRF Data Center.  Since its founding in 2006, HDRF has provided more than $35 million through over 125 grants for accelerated breakthrough depression research that promises to lead to new and better medications and treatments.

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