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CMU Awarded Grant to Support AI-Enabled Healthcare Project

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was awarded a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to further support healthcare informatics and analytics research. 

Rema Padman, Trustees Professor of Management Science and Healthcare Informatics at CMU’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, will oversee the grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to support research to evaluate an artificial intelligence-enabled mobile game to improve nutrition, physical activity and health hygiene education and outcomes among children with Type 1 diabetes, in collaboration with the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and FriendsLearn, developer of the game app fooya!.

“We are very grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for this grant,” said Padman. “The funding will allow our interdisciplinary team to examine and evaluate the impact of fooya!, a gamified extension of the fooya! mobile app envisioned as a digital vaccine candidate that seeks to positively influence the food and lifestyle habits of children with Type 1 diabetes and improve related knowledge, behaviors and health outcomes.”

In prior research, Padman and her team have studied how fooya!, which uses implicit learning and neurocognitive training mechanisms as a digital therapeutic approach to promote healthy eating and physical activity in children, affected actual food choices. Her work has shown that the game significantly improved children’s food choices immediately after play and is a promising direction for longitudinal evaluation in a health education curriculum.

“Our platform builds upon a decade of life science research and development in the pursuit of our vision to create a scalable, evidence-based innovation” says Bhargav Sri Prakash, founder and CEO of FriendsLearn. “Our work with Professor Padman and her multi-institutional and inter disciplinary team of physicians, public health experts, and researchers has been crucial in our ability to produce innovation rooted in science. This funding from the highly selective and prestigious Richard King Mellon Foundation is inspiring recognition from independent expert reviewers for us to continue to scale this societally significant work.”

“This project presents the potential to improve the health and lifestyle of children with diabetes, and we look forward to following the research over the next year,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The $250,000 grant will be in partnership with the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“Healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and physical activity are key components in the management of type 1 diabetes. We are excited to partner with CMU to find new ways to reach our patients, especially knowing that kids these days have grown up with technology,” said Drs. Radhika Muzumdar and Ingrid Libman, UPMC Children’s investigators in this project. 

Other members of the project team include Nynke Niezink, Assistant Professor of Statistics and Data Science at CMU and Yi-Chin Lin, Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Business Analytics at Hofstra University. 

“The Richard King Mellon Foundation has long been a valuable partner of the CMU and Heinz College communities,” said Ramayya Krishnan, Dean of Heinz College. “We are thankful for their ongoing support of important research projects of our faculty members.”


About Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy
The Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is home to two internationally recognized graduate-level institutions at Carnegie Mellon University: the School of Information Systems and Management and the School of Public Policy and Management. This unique colocation combined with its expertise in analytics set Heinz College apart in the areas of cybersecurity, health care, the future of work, smart cities, and arts & entertainment. In 2016, INFORMS named Heinz College the #1 academic program for Analytics Education. For more information, please visit