Blog: Showcasing RADAR-CNS in London

By Katie White, Research Assistant at King’s College London

On Wednesday 25 September, I was lucky enough to be invited to present a talk on RADAR-CNS at the NIHR Maudsley BRC Annual Conference 2019. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is a partnership between South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (the largest mental health training hospital in the UK) and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London. The NIHR Maudsley BRC is a key UK partner in RADAR-CNS, providing significant researcher time and infrastructure to the project.

Led by Professor Matthew Hotopf, Director of the NIHR Maudsley BRC and also co-Principal Investigator for RADAR-CNS, the conference was a chance for researchers to present their work on new technologies and mechanisms in mental health. Around 300 people attended, including students, researchers, clinicians, funders and patients.

The RADAR-CNS talk featured in the ‘Transdiagnostics’ session. This refers to research that looks at multiple conditions at once. Of course, this fits RADAR-CNS very well, with our focus on major depressive disorder, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. I presented the talk alongside Jan Weyer, a member of the RADAR-CNS Patient Advisory Board. Jan has provided feedback at various stages of the study from the point of view of those with multiple sclerosis. Together, we gave an overview of the different remote measurement technologies being used in the study and how these fit together to provide us with the data that we are interested in. Jan also spoke specifically about how she was involved in choosing the wearables that we provide for the different conditions.

Quite excitingly, we were able to show some early results from the major depressive disorder branch of the study. These included some results from our 3-month and 1-year interviews with participants, as well as graphs displaying the completeness of the data that is coming from the fitbits and passive apps. The talk sparked some interesting questions from the audience, especially surrounding how we are working with participants to ensure they feel comfortable about their data privacy.

During the day there were many other interesting talks that were of relevance to RADAR-CNS. Researchers presented ‘COMPASS: Navigating your long-term condition’, an online programme offering emotional wellbeing tools and support for those who have a long-term physical health condition. This included a compelling video from a patient involved in developing the website, who shared her ‘mind & body’ story of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The Service User Involvement group also spoke about the various ways in which service users, carers and family members are being included in every aspect of research design at the BRC. It was fantastic to see the involvement of so many service users in the work being presented, and it really did reflect the fact that this is at the very heart of the research that we conduct.

Alongside the talks, attendees were able to view a range of interesting posters and demonstrations in various rooms of the conference venue. The Technical Platforms team at RADAR-CNS ran an interactive demo of the devices being used in the study- those taking part were even able to view their heart rate and emotional arousal data on a live screen!

Overall, the conference was a huge success and I was proud to have had the chance to present the work of RADAR-CNS amongst many other cutting-edge projects.