The five finalists in the 2012 Alzheimer’s Challenge have been announced and awarded $25K each, plus mentoring to help them refine their concepts.

The goal of the challenge is the development of simple, cost-effective, consistent tools that could be easily used to assess memory, mood, thinking and activity level over time to help improve diagnosis and monitoring of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The final prototypes will be presented in June at Finalist Event to a panel of esteemed judges including Dr. Marietta Anthony, Bert Bruce, Meryl Comer, Dr. Husseini K. Manji, Scott Peifer, Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, who will select a winner of an additional $175K.

See below for the various teams and what they have to offer.

Digital Clock Drawing Test (dCDT) | Burlington, MA

Team Name: ClockSteam

Team: Dana L. Penney, PhD, and Randall Davis, PhD

The dCDT applies cutting-edge technology (digital ink) and innovative software to a familiar test – the Clock Drawing Test – to produce a screening for Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

The test is user and patient-friendly, rapid, inexpensive and portable. dCDT automatically measures variables that are found in traditional clock drawing tests, but goes beyond this, detecting subtle behaviors, previously unmeasurable, that appear to be very early diagnostic markers for pre-symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease, converting each patient’s data into a format easily exported to an electronic medical record or to a database for large scale research.

ICHANGE | Portland, OR

Team Name: ICHANGE

Team: Jeffrey Kaye, Tamara Hayes, Diane Howieson, Katherine Wild, Hiroko Dodge

The ICHANGE system continuously and coincidently monitors signature activities and behaviors of those with Alzheimer’s disease that are readily assessed without the need to remember to wear or charge a device. An array of inexpensive sensors are used to unobtrusively measure key functions whose change has been associated with the progression of cognitive decline.

Data is then aggregated and analyzed with prediction algorithms that are then streamed to stakeholders of interest (caregiver, doctor, clinical trialists) provideing real-time reports of meaningful change.

Ginger.io | Cambridge, MA

Team Name: Ginger.io

Team: Sai Moturu, Lara Sinicropi-Yao, Karan Singh, Anmol Madan and Ryan Panchadsaram

The ginger.io platform is a combination of a mobile phone application and web-based dashboard. The platform passively tracks Alzheimer’s patients’ behavior relevant to their mood, memory and functional status, and administers standard Alzheimer’s cognitive assessments to provide health care providers with a dashboard to measure patient health status, easy-to-interpret scores and novel data analytics to follow new treatments and improve patient care.

BrainBaseline | Iowa City, IA

Team Name: BrainBaseline

Team: Joan Severson, Joshua Cosman, Phd, Jacob Wagner, MD, Phd, Matthew Rizzo, MD, Michelle Voss, Phd, and Dwayne Godwin, PhD

BrainBaseline utilizes Apple’s iPad tablet computer to provide a brief, comprehensive assessment of memory, attention, language and processing speed over time, while minimizing the logistical constraints currently associated with collecting longitudinal cognitive performance data.

The tool aggregates lifestyle and cognitive performance data to give patients and caregivers customized information regarding how these factors interact with cognitive function and can be used to enhance quality of life. Further, these data can be used to understand how specific demographic and lifestyle factors contribute to the incidence and progression of Alzheimer’s.

The Verbal Fluency Meter (VF-Meter) | Minneapolis, MN

Team Name: VF-Meter

Team: Serguei Pakhomov and Laura Hemmy

This brief, non-invasive computerized instrument measures and monitors subtle cognitive changes over time that may be indicative of early Alzheimer’s disease. The test automates the administration and results analysis of a standard verbal fluency task, storing those results on several platforms including computers and mobile devices. The automated measurements will then be used to evaluate a subject’s current cognitive state, monitor cognitive change over time and predict the relative likelihood and rate of progression to dementia.

Initial Judging Phase:

Judging will be based and scored on the ability to meet the following judging criteria and stated point allocation:

  • Clearly articulates how the submission can help or benefit individuals and/or healthcare professionals by easily and appropriately identifying subtle changes in memory, mood, thinking, and functions relevant to onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
(up to 20 points)
  • Ability to longitudinally track the memory, mood, thinking, and/or activity level of persons with Alzheimer’s disease or those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
(up to 20 points)
  • Ability of submission to easily communicate and potentially visualize the clinical course of Alzheimer’s disease including:
    • Application of a standardizable and intuitive outcome (e.g. score)
    • Amenable to communication by accepted methods
    • Potential to integrate into electronic medical records
(up to 20 points)
  • Degree of invasiveness, simplicity, and potential for utility by non-specialists (ideally, by patients themselves)
(up to 20 points)
  • Utilization of technology (e.g. wireless, telehealth, at-home or on-person sensors) to capture information
(up to 10 points)
  • Clearly articulates the defined  populations and metrics necessary for a pilot, proof of concept study. (less complexity is preferred)
(up to 10 points)