Jukka-Pekka “JP” Onnela, assistant professor of biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, has won a prestigious Director’s New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a proposal to collect and analyze cell phone communication and sensor data to monitor social and behavioral functioning of individuals with mood disorders. One of 41 scientists around the country receiving the award in 2013, Onnela will receive $1.5 million over the course of five years.

“I have wanted to do this particular project for many years, but it has taken time for the technology to mature,” Onnela said. “The final missing piece was funding, and I am extremely grateful and deeply honored to receive this award from the NIH.”

The New Innovator Award is part of the NIH’s High Risk-High Reward program, which provides support for exceptional innovation in biomedical research. These awards are given to early-stage investigators working on highly creative research approaches that may be at too early a stage to qualify for more traditional NIH funding, but which have the potential to produce a major impact on broad, important problems in biomedical and behavioral research.

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