Recent News & Events

New Center Targets Nursing Research, Self-Care Technologies

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity has received a five-​​year, $1.5 mil­lion grant from the National Insti­tutes of Health to estab­lish a new center designed to advance nursing sci­en­tists’ research and effec­tive tech­nology inter­ven­tions for improving self-​​care and self-​​management for America’s older adults.

The grant, from the NIH’s National Insti­tute of Nursing Research, pro­vides the sup­port to launch the North­eastern Center for Tech­nology in Sup­port of Self Man­age­ment and Health, also known as NUCare, at the School of Nursing. The center is also closely aligned with the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence.

Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, is the prin­cipal inves­ti­gator for NUCare. Pro­fessor Holly Jimison, who holds joint appoint­ments in Bouvé and CCIS, is the co-​​principal inves­ti­gator. Both are nation­ally rec­og­nized experts in geri­atrics. Jimison also directs the Northeastern-​​based Con­sor­tium on Tech­nology for Proac­tive Care, a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort by fac­ulty researchers and health clin­i­cians nation­wide to develop eco­nom­ical, technology-​​based solu­tions to health­care challenges.

By 2020, one in five people in America will be over the age of 65, and the fastest growing seg­ment of this aging group are the people over 85,” says Fulmer. “We won’t have the capacity to pro­vide the care this pop­u­la­tion will need, so it’s crit­ical that we develop self-​​care tech­nology solu­tions for older adults and their care­givers that help max­i­mize their quality of life.”

NUCare will pro­mote nursing research in self-​​management, tech­nolo­gies for home mon­i­toring and coaching, and team-​​based care that involves family and care­givers. It will also serve as the infra­struc­ture to train nurse scientists—specifically Bouvé nursing fac­ulty and doc­toral students—in state-​​of-​​the-​​art mon­i­toring and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies to con­duct research on health­care inter­ven­tions that are scal­able and effec­tive. Exam­ples of these inter­ven­tions include com­puter games that mea­sure cog­ni­tion; unob­tru­sive body sen­sors that mea­sure sleep quality; and smart­phone apps that use coaching to encourage seniors to be more active in their daily lives.

Another point of emphasis for NUCare is the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary teams’ focus on cre­ating novel solu­tions to improve the quality of life and inde­pen­dence for older adults, with a spe­cific emphasis on pop­u­la­tions with health disparities.

North­eastern is uniquely posi­tioned to inno­vate in these areas, says Fulmer. Health is one of Northeastern’s pri­mary research themes, and the uni­ver­sity is excep­tion­ally well posi­tioned to con­duct use-​​inspired research across dis­ci­plines to address health and healthy aging.

Jimison noted that the center’s efforts also dove­tail with a national push toward devel­oping health ser­vices that are proac­tive and pre­ven­ta­tive. NUCare researchers will be able to pro­vide an evi­dence base to inform how best to imple­ment this new model of care.

NUCare will also fund North­eastern nurse sci­en­tists’ pilot projects and pro­vide men­toring and other ser­vices to these researchers on a range of topics. The North­eastern fac­ulty leading the first two pilot projects are Dr. Alice Bonner, who is exam­ining the impact of an inte­grated care model that engages patients and their fam­i­lies to improve out­comes when tran­si­tioning from the hos­pital to the home; and Dr. Betsy Howard, who is exam­ining the effect of an assess­ment and well­ness coaching system on low-​​income adults living in sub­si­dized housing in Boston.

This presents an oppor­tu­nity for our nurse sci­en­tists to be leaders in this area,” says Fulmer, adding that seniors’ family mem­bers are an untapped resource to engage with these coaching, mon­i­toring, and other high-​​tech interventions.

Boston Globe: Online retailers found to shift offerings and prices

Travel websites and other Internet retailers may be giving your friend better deals than you.

You know that friend who always scores hotel deals you never seem able to find? The reason might not be her skill at ferreting out online bargains.

Travel websites and other Internet retailers may be giving your friend better deals than you as part of a high-tech experiment called price steering that gives consumers different search results based on their buying histories, tastes — even the types of digital devices they shop on.

When browsing shoes, for instance, a connoisseur of handmade leather may get different Internet search choices than someone who typically buys knockoff brands.

And in some cases two consumers may actually get different prices for the exact same item, a practice known as price discrimination: That friend of yours may have been quoted $202 a night for a weekend stay at a Miami hotel, while you got $243 for identical accommodations.

New research to be unveiled by Northeastern University Thursday found that major travel websites and general merchandisers are testing price steering and discrimination in small doses. The techniques can make it easier for online consumers to find what exactly they want, or conversely, harder to get the best deal.

“You do a search for an item and you’re shown some results, but you don’t know if those are all the results,” said Christo Wilson, a computer science professor at Northeastern and coauthor of the study. “Maybe there’s more stuff or better prices that are being hidden from you.”

The Northeastern researchers focused mostly on travel, an industry known for variable — and sometimes mysterious — pricing. But they also tested general merchandisers, finding instances where similar searches for dinner tables, for example, yielded different results: Some shoppers were shown expensive options with gilded mahogany, others got the cheap plastic. [Read the full article here]

Wall Street Journal: Why You Can’t Trust You’re Getting the Best Online Deal

The Web is full of personalized content, whether it’s a Netflix recommendation or the results of a Google search.

But consumers have protested when e-commerce companies have extended their behind-the-scenes personalization to prices, charging different sums for the same goods, or… [read more]

Local Researchers Forecast Spread of Ebola

Don’t be surprised if there are a few more Ebola cases in the United States in the next couple months.

That’s according to a Northeastern University researcher who’s created a forecasting map to predict the spread of the deadly disease. He warns it’s not an exact science, and says a vaccine could change everything.

“We have projections for one or two cases at the most during November, December,” Alessandro Vespignani said.

He’s leading a team of Northeastern researchers who use a computer mapping model to crunch census data with airport activity and countless other factors.

“We do not expect a large outbreak in the United States,” he said.

He compares the Ebola outbreak to a forest fire that sometimes shoots off sparks far away. The only way to contain the fire, he says, is to stop it in its source, West Africa.

That becomes more difficult as doctors return home sick or worse. The death of aid worker Martin Salia has the Ebola medical community sounding alarms.

UMass Memorial Medical Center Dr. Steven Hatch recently returned from Liberia without any symptoms. He’s staying away from patients while he self-monitors for a few weeks, just to be safe.

“We feel as if we are involved in a sacred mission to put this thing out,” he said.

Link to WBZ-TV Video