2022 Seed Grant Awardees

Activate: Mobile Application

Vanika Chawla, MD, FRCPC, Student Mental Health Fellow
Dr. Douglas Noordsy, M.D, Clinical Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine


Individuals with schizophrenia have high rates of cardiometabolic disease leading to a reduced life expectancy of 10-20 years relative to the general population. Lifestyle factors such as sedentary behaviors and unhealthy diet are contributory. Several recent meta-analyses have shown that physical activity and other lifestyle changes can significantly improve mental and physical health symptoms. There is an unmet clinical need for an easily accessible and cost-effective way to improve lifestyle behaviors in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders in order to improve psychiatric symptoms and cardiometabolic risk factors. Our innovative project involves the development and research of a Mobile Application called ACTIVATE, which is designed to help people with Schizophrenia spectrum disorders make positive lifestyle changes in order to improve mental and physical health. Funding from this grant will allow our team to engage with research efforts and technological support for our novel mobile application.

Effect of meal timing modifications on glucose metabolism and sleep in individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes

Heyjun Park, PhD, Postdoctoral Trainee
Dr. Michael Snyder, PhD, Chair of Genetics Department


Lifestyle modification has been recognized as a powerful and cost-effective means to prevent type 2 diabetes (T2D), a condition affecting 30.2 million people in the U.S. Classically, diabetes research has focused on the impact of what to eat (i.e., nutrients and diet types) on glucose regulation. However, meal timing (i.e. the time of day, frequency, and the length of eating and fasting windows) could be another crucial factor for glucose homeostasis because food is an external cue to entrain the circadian clock system in the body. Moreover, diet also influences sleep, and sleep is another significant predictor of T2D onset and progression. Indeed, our preliminary observational data demonstrated that meal timing-related dietary features of individuals predicted their hyperglycemia (v. normoglycemia), insulin resistant (v. insulin sensitive) or incretin dysfunction (v. incretin normal function). Therefore, we will conduct a 12-week randomized controlled crossover study (IRB-61843) to quantify the effects of different meal timings on glucose and sleep physiology. This study will test the central hypothesis that optimizing eating time will change microbiome and metabolome profiles, and will improve sleep and glucose control among people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. We will use smartphones and wearable devices to capture real time temporal lifestyle patterns and glucose fluctuation patterns. Taken together, we will be the first that leverages cutting edge multiple wearable technologies combined with an machine learning algorithm and multi-omics tools that discover meaningful changes in eating timing to reduce high glucose levels in those with prediabetes or T2D. Overall, since diet, sleep, and physical activity are essential activities of all humans, findings from this study will offer the exciting potential of being immediately translatable into lifestyle recommendations to prevent and mitigate Type 2 diabetes.