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Bill Janes awarded $760,000 grant to advance ALS research and intervention

Aug. 24, 2022

The Department of Defense awarded Bill Janes, assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, a two-year $760,000 grant, alongside his collaborators at the University of Missouri, to advance ALS prevention and early intervention. This interdisciplinary project will combine an in-home sensor system, wearable smartwatch and electronic medical records to predict health outcomes for people living with ALS.  

“We are hopeful that this project can close a critical gap in ALS care. If we are successful, this system could help interdisciplinary ALS care teams to identify changes in health status before someone with ALS winds up sick, hospitalized or passing away before we even have the chance to intervene. This could help people with ALS avoid dangerous complications and live longer, healthier lives,” Dr. Janes said.  

His co-investigators hail from different colleges and programs within the university, including the School of Health Professions, Center for Eldercare and Rehabilitation Technology, University of Missouri Health and NextGen Biomedical Informatics Center. Their names are Marjorie Skubic from the College of Engineering and Vovanti Jones, Abu Mosa, Mihail Popescu and Xing Song from the School of Medicine. 

Dr. Janes said, “The interdisciplinary team is the most exciting part of this project for me. I’m getting to pull together people with complementary technical and clinical skill sets to try and prevent an array of secondary conditions before they happen, rather than just responding to them after the fact.” 

The approach could help propel the next step of ALS research and treatment, as the team comes together to create an innovative research plan that pulls from all their areas of expertise.  

The sensor system is being designed to pick up on health indicators which were determined by occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, respiratory therapy, physiatry, neurology and nursing professionals. Once the system is built to identify these indicators, Dr. Janes said the next step is to build “triggers” into the system that will prompt the appropriate professionals to intervene when their related pre-clinical indicators are recorded. 

 “That will give us an unprecedented ability to deliver early, targeted interventions before people deteriorate,” said Dr. Janes. 

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Bill Janes

William E. Janes

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor