University to Promote Digital Health

The University of Arkansas Little Rock is one of five institutions sharing a $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a multi-scale integrative approach to digital health.

The collaborative is a multi-institution grant that will use the funding to promote smart health in Arkansas and West Virginia. Other university partners include the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Arkansas Fayetteville, West Virginia University, and West Virginia State University.

Dr. Nitin Agarwal Professor of Information Sciences at UA Little Rock will receive $600,000 for the study entitled “Multi-scale Integrative Approach to Digital Health: Collaborative Research and Education in Smart Health” in West Virginia and Arkansas, The study will conclude July 2023.

According to Dr. Agarwal, “Healthcare costs are on the rise nationally and significantly more so in Arkansas and West Virginia. This is due to high poverty rates in these states and a significantly large population that is affected by cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and a general lack of physical activity.”

“To address these issues, we will conduct a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and a multi-scale integrative approach to trigger smart health initiatives with the goal to lower healthcare costs by using artificial intelligence and big data analysis. In addition to further developing a big data and smart health research infrastructure, the university will work to enhance the workforce in both states.

Dr. Agarwal explained, “We will also study the validity of using social media data to examine patient reported outcomes, and to assess misinformation in social media pertaining to health.”

In addition to the NSF research, Dr. Agarwal heads the “Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies” (COSMOS) at UA Little Rock which was formed to be at the forefront of the field of social computing.

COSNOS is leading several collaborative projects with total funding of more than $10 million from various federal agencies to address some of the most challenging problems of knowledge extraction from big social data and then researchers will develop methodologies to diagnose novel pathologies of online social media.


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