man's armrests on a table holding a tablet in his hand.

Student-designed app helps docs diagnose Alzheimer’s

To streamline diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease, a student-led team at Washington University has designed an online app to help doctors more quickly evaluate patients.

The app represents a collaboration between students at the Schools of Medicine, Arts & Sciences and Engineering & Applied Science.

The student group Memento was brought together by Sling Health Network, a student-run biotechnology incubator that provides resources, training, and mentorship to teams of students developing innovative solutions to clinical problems. Robert Chen and Allen Osgood co-lead the group. Chen is an MD/PhD student and Osgood earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from the School of Engineering & Applied Science in May. Other team members include Jenny Liu, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 2016; Morgan Redding, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a second major in mathematics in May; and Stolovitz, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science with minors in design and physics, also in May.

Last summer, the team won $10,000 as a finalist for the Student Technology Prize for Primary Healthcare from the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust.

Screenshot of app used to assist doctors in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease.
The app is designed to be appealing and intuitive to help caregivers feel more comfortable answering the questions.

The app consists of 60 to 100 questions for a patient’s caregiver to answer on an iPad before the patient sees a dementia specialist, then organizes the intake information and generates a report for the physician. It is being tested at the School of Medicine’s Memory Diagnostic Center. If the trial is successful, the team plans to work with the Alzheimer’s Association to launch the app at other St. Louis-area neurology clinics.

“Having the chance to build things from the ground up in an environment where there is no clear answer is definitely a testament to the education we’ve received at Washington University,” Osgood said. “Having the ability to go in and work with professionals to learn HIPAA compliance and systems security and all the different things we need to implement this on the user and technical side has been instrumental to the success of the project.”

Read more about Memento’s winning technology in the Source.