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Final 3 weeks to nominate teachers for the $1M Global Teacher Prize 2021

Dear friends,

We hope you are doing well.

There is now less than one month to go until applications and nominations close for the Global Teacher Prize, and we wanted to ask you to help us spread the word.

We are now starting the seventh cycle of this prize, which continues to highlight the important work of extraordinary teachers around the world. Now more than ever, it is important they are recognised for their contribution and have a seat at the table when decisions are made on education.

Teachers applying for the Global Teacher Prize will be assessed on teaching practices, how they innovate to address local challenges, achieve demonstrable learning outcomes, impact the community beyond the classroom, help children become global citizens, improve the teaching profession and gain recognition from external bodies. The US$1m award was won last year by Indian village teacher Ranjitsinh Disale.

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From digital therapeutics to personalized mental health solutions: Pear Therapeutics expands platform via partnerships with Empatica, etectRx, KeyWise, and Winterlight

Pear Therapeutics Expands Platform with Digital Biomarkers, Machine Learning Algorithms and Sensor-Based Technologies (press release):

Pear Therapeutics, Inc. announced today that it has entered into agreements with multiple technology companies, including Empatica Inc., etectRx, Inc., and KeyWise, Inc. The new technologies complement the voice-based biomarkers previously licensed from Winterlight Labs. These new agreements bolster Pear’s Prescription Digital Therapeutics (PDT) platform, by adding to its library of digital biomarkers, machine learning algorithms, sensor-based technologies, and digital therapeutics.

The newly licensed technologies enable the building of a comprehensive product offering for remote sensing of patient physiology. Pear’s physiologic sensing portfolio could allow for real-time personalization of digital therapeutic content and pharmaceutical dosing, creating the opportunity for enhanced patient outcomes across a wide range of disease states.

  • Pear is collaborating with Empatica, a pioneer in developing medical wearables and digital biomarkers, to explore using wearable sensors to evaluate withdrawal symptoms in patients with

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Neuroscientist Lisa Genova, author of the beautiful novel Still Alice, releases non-fiction book on Memory

A Neuroscientist’s Poignant Study of How We Forget Most Things in Life (The New Yorker):

Any study of memory is, in the main, a study of its frailty. In “Remember,” an engrossing survey of the latest research, Lisa Genova explains that a healthy brain quickly forgets most of what passes into conscious awareness. The fragments of experience that do get encoded into long-term memory are then subject to “creative editing.” To remember an event is to reimagine it; in the reimagining, we inadvertently introduce new information, often colored by our current emotional state. A dream, a suggestion, and even the mere passage of time can warp a memory. It is sobering to realize that three out of four prisoners who are later exonerated through DNA evidence were initially convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony. “You can be 100 percent confident in your vivid memory,” Genova writes, “and still be

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On Awe, Wonder, Biofeedback, CBSM, Virtual Reality, Privacy, Being Wrong, and more

Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, this time featuring eleven timely resources and research findings for lifelong brain health and mental well-being.

#1. “Awe is the feeling we experience when encountering vast things that we don’t understand. Around the world and in culturally varying ways, studies show, we experience awe in response to others’ kindness and courage, nature, music, religious or spiritual practice, the visual and dramatic arts, and epiphany … It leads us to share, collaborate, and wonder. In experiences of awe, people often speak as if they have found their soul.”

Sometimes it IS awesome to learn how the sausage was made: How Pixar’s “Soul” met the Science of Awe

#2. Here are six suggestions to incorporate awe into daily routines and improve mental well-being, based on the new book Awestruck: Linger, Slow down, Appreciate your senses, Unplug, Awe walks, Awe journaling.

#3. Speaking … Read the rest

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Growing research supports Heart Rate Variability (HRV) biofeedback training to lower stress and anxiety, increase sports performance

What’s HRV? An important health metric every golfer should pay attention to (Golf.com):

As amateur golfers, we’d love to play like the pros. There’s no doubt that you would trade your banana slice for Dustin Johnson’s penetrating 300-yard drive down the middle of the fairway or Collin Morikawa’s impeccable ball striking in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, we have limiting factors — be they physical ability, money, time or something else. But that doesn’t mean we can’t adopt a few things the Tour pros do to stay in shape in our own lives.

For one, Tour players, and other professional athletes, are now tracking their Heart Rate Variability (HRV) to help them measure their recovery and peak at the right times on the course … If you’re unfamiliar with HRV, it’s the variance in time between the beats of your heart.

For example, if your heart rate is 60 beats per minute,

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To prevent “cognitive entrenchment,” think like a scientist and be wrong often

In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to be able to adapt and change rather than stubbornly adhering to old ideas and opinions. This was one of the lessons of 2020, a year that forced us to question many of our assumptions about what behaviors are safe, how work and school can be conducted, and how we connect with others.

“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat,” says organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of the new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

In his book, Grant explains why it’s so important for people to be humbler about their knowledge and stay open to learning and changing their minds. The book is filled with fascinating research and guidance on becoming more flexible … Read the rest

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AppliedVR raises $29M to help make virtual reality the standard of care for treating chronic pain

AppliedVR Raises $29 Million for Immersive Headsets (LA Business Journal):

Century City-based AppliedVR, Inc. announced March 23 that it has raised $29 million in Series A funding that will be used to continue development of an immersive headset to help patients with chronic pain.

… The company is building a headset called EaseVRx that will display immersive environments like campfires, mountains and other animated nature scenes to help patients dealing with chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and chronic intractable lower back pain…

AppliedVR Chief Executive and co-founder Matthew Stoudt said that the pandemic has generated more need for pain treatments that can be administered away from medical settings.

The Announcement:

AppliedVR Secures $29 Million in Series A Funding to Make Virtual Reality the Standard of Care for Chronic Pain (press release):

AppliedVR provides virtual reality-based treatments aimed at comprehensively treating chronic pain. Combining well-established cognitive behavioral therapies with mindfulness exercises, the company’s

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Tip for digital health start-ups: To navigate regulatory gray areas, “engage early and engage often” with the FDA

FDA’s enforcement discretion for digital health is more ambiguous than ever in 2021 (MobiHealthNews):

The digital health ecosystem has swelled to encompass a broad range of products over the years.

On one end of the spectrum is software-as-medical-devices (SaMD) and prescription digital therapeutics, product categories for which a comprehensive regulatory strategy and engagement with the FDA are mandatory. On the other are wellness apps and other low-risk digital tools that likely spend more time worrying about oversight from the Federal Trade Commission than the health regulator.

However, a growing number of companies are finding themselves in a gray area of enforcement discretion, a term the FDA uses for lower-risk products that meet the definition of a medical device, but do not require regulatory submission, review and authorization before heading to market … Early-stage companies that haven’t yet internalized these concepts of documentation and transparency should take an “engage early and

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Four trends accelerating mental health innovation in the COVID/ post-COVID era

The money behind mental health: How the pandemic increased innovation, investment in behavioral health care (Fierce Healthcare):

Earlier this month, Modern Health marked a milestone few companies ever reach: unicorn status.

With the help of its latest $74 million funding round, the startup, which serves as a mental health benefits platform for employers, topped a $1 billion valuation.

… And while Modern Health was already attracting plenty of interest before the pandemic, CEO Alyson Watson said her company is among those in the behavioral health space that have seen what can only be described as a seismic shift across the industry in the wake of COVID-19. In the first half of 2020 alone, digital behavioral health startups scored $588 million, roughly the annual funding for this segment in any previous year, Rock Health wrote in a report last year … That’s translating to some real changes in the industry, including

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Innovation in COVID times: Otsuka and Click Therapeutics announce fully virtual clinical trial, leveraging Verily’s Project Baseline

Otsuka launches pivotal trial of digital therapeutics for depression (MedCity News):

Otsuka Pharmaceutical is launching a virtual study to see if digital therapeutics can reduce depression symptoms.

It’s the next step in a partnership between the Tokyo-based drugmaker and Click Therapeutics, a digital health startup that is developing programs for smoking cessation, depression and insomnia.

They plan to enroll up to 540 patients in a randomized, controlled trial that will test the digital therapeutic’s efficacy in patients that are taking antidepressants. The remote trial will be conducted using Verily’s Project Baseline platform…

“Specifically, in mental health, we do think that digital therapeutics will provide additional benefits for patients and that’s the reason why we are not only interested in one intervention but also obviously are committed to broaden this with other approaches that are meant to improve the life of patients,” (Otsuka Chief Medical Officer Christoph) Koenen said. “We do

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