Campus-Wide Autism Research App Collaboration Wins Duke Teamwork Award

This past spring, Apple released a new open source software framework known as ResearchKit, which allowed for the creation of new apps geared toward medical research. Duke immediately planned to get involved.

Bringing together 25 faculty and staff from across 11 schools and departments, a group of employees came together to donate time and resources to create an app that uses video analysis and machine learning techniques in children to potentially develop a screening tool for autism and other mental health and developmental challenges. Released in October, the “Autism & Beyond” app offers a novel way for families to better determine the needs of children.

“This collaboration across the various teams enabled us to quickly deliver a robust, high-quality app that will significantly impact our understanding of autism,” read the nomination from Paula Morrison, assistant dean of application development at Duke’s Office of Research Informatics. “A bonus side effect of this project is that we have all built collaborative relationships that will serve us well in the future.”

Each year, Duke recognizes university and health system employees as Teamwork and Diversity award winners for contributions to Duke and Durham. 

Besides the collaboration for the autism research app, a Teamwork Award for collaborative workplace environments also went to Duke Raleigh Hospital’s TeamSTEPPS Steering Committee.

Duke President Richard H. Brodhead honored all the award recipients during an event at Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Tuesday.

“The secret of what makes Duke able to do the different things that it does in its mission is pretty simple, which is you actually just need outstanding people to make these things possible,” said Brodhead, who spoke about Duke's commitment to academics, research and patient care. “You need people who are skilled, people who are devoted…they have to be people who have a sense of the values of this place.”