• An App to Combat Eating Disorders

    Anorexia Therapy through the Smartphone

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    Digital nutrition diaries: as a former sufferer herself, Ekaterina Karabasheva knows exactly what anorexia patients need, and how the new app can provide them with optimum support in their daily lives.

Anorexia therapy through your smartphone – the Jourvie app provides support for people with eating disorders. It was developed by Ekaterina Karabasheva, and has earned her team first place in the Aspirin Social Award 2015.

ASPIRIN SOCIAL AWARD FOR THE JOURVIE PROJECT

“The app is easy to use and helps patients to keep their nutrition diaries digitally.”

research spoke with Ekaterina Karabasheva.

Where did the idea for Jourvie come from?

A few years ago, I was suffering from anorexia myself. A key element of my treatment was keeping nutrition diaries, which I then discussed with my therapist. Of course, I was not keen to fill out these printed forms in public. I found it embarrassing, and often left them at home. Many patients feel the same way. However, this leaves therapists without essential information that can help them identify behavior and thought patterns related to the illness, making effective treatment virtually impossible. There were no smartphones back then, so I typed my diaries into my cell phone and saved them as text messages. It only occurred to me later that there was a better solution.

How did this develop into an app?

I developed the concept in 2013 as part of my master’s dissertation in communication science. I discussed it with doctors from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Berlin Charité hospital. The question at the heart of the idea was always, “What do the patients need, and what do the therapists need?” Of course, it was the software developer on our team who was responsible for the technical implementation. Then, in 2014, I founded Jourvie, a charitable company that now consists of a four-strong team. The app has been available free of charge for Android devices since the beginning of 2015. It provides the patients with a straightforward way of keeping their nutrition diaries digitally. The app also gives them additional tips on dealing with difficult situations such as bingeing. Users can also save their own motivational strategies.

We are now working on software that will serve as a platform for direct data sharing between patients and their therapists

Are you planning any more developments?

Yes, because more and more therapists and nutritionists are asking how they can use Jourvie. We are now not only wor­k­ing on a version for the iPhone, but also on software that will serve as a platform for direct data sharing between ­patients and their therapists. We are already working on a test version. We are also constantly receiving new ideas from users, ­researchers and other interested parties. For example, many patients would like to have motivating images, videos or ­music.

What is it like to work as a charitable initiative?

Our workplace in the Social Impact Lab in Berlin gave us a key platform. In the early phase of our company, we were active there and were also able to network and share ideas with other start-ups and social companies. Our team is continuing to develop our idea – unfortunately we are not able to devote ourselves to it full-time. We are dependent on funding and financial support. In future, we hope to receive more financing from research projects and health insurers.

What does this award mean for your project?

We are using the prize money for the development of the app, but the award itself will also open doors for us. The Bayer name will be an enormous help to boost interest in our project from professional institutions. In July, for example, we exhi­bited with the Bayer Science & Education Foundation at IdeenExpo 2015 in Hanover. In addition, we were also able to make important contacts, with the German Competence Network Obesity for instance.

What about cooperation partners from research and ­medicine?

Berlin Charité is still our most important partner from thera­py and science. We are currently also planning a research project with another clinic to check the Jourvie therapeutic results scientifically. This involves comparing two groups that have been treated with and without the app. We aim to use these results to persuade health insurers and other potential ­partners of the benefits of Jourvie.

Bayer Science Teens: Science Camp in the United States

Vacation Researchers at 3,000 Meters

The Bayer Science & Education Foundation arranged a visit to Summer Camp in Colorado for young science enthusiasts.

Getting up close with anatomy: Rebecca Thielemann (left) and Alena Hensel get to grips with the organs of the human body. They found the brain model particularly fascinating.

Dissecting sheep may not appeal to everyone, but performing experiments in the mountains is a different story. Both of these activities featured on the program at the Summer Camp in Colorado, United States, where 20 young science fans from Germany, India and the United States were able to give free rein to their thirst for knowledge. For instance, they had an intensive look at the anatomy of the body. “I didn’t feel great when we did that, but it was interesting to see what the heart, lungs and eyes actually look like,” said 14-year-old Rebecca Thielemann from Germany. The aspiring researchers also built their own human. “We modeled the muscles of the spinal column and legs with clay on human skeletons made of plastic, and learned a lot about evolution and anatomy.”

The program also involved experiments in the wild. The participants ­performed experiments relating to atmospheric pressure at an altitude of 3,000 meters in the Rocky Mountains. And Rebecca and her young colleagues captured all the activities on camera: “We recorded a film of our two-week expedition and also found out a great deal about the psychology of learning in the process.” The camp was organized by the Bayer Science & Education Foundation in conjunction with the Bayer USA Foundation and the University of Colorado Center for STEM Learning.

Dialog Between Experts and Young Researchers

New Generation of Talented Scientists for Society

Around 120 promising young scientists recently gathered at the Bayer Alumni Dialogue 2015 when the Bayer Science & Education
Foundation invited current and former scholarship recipients and award winners to Berlin.

Creative thinker: medical doctor Pooja Merchant, who works in the Medical Affairs department, spoke at the Bayer Alumni Dialogue about a Foundation project for tuberculosis patients in Moldova.

Networking makes for more effective resear­ching. This was one of the key messages that Dr. Ijad Madisch, co-founder and CEO of ­ResearchGate, a social community for researchers, shared with attendees at the Bayer Alumni Dialogue that took place in June 2015 in Berlin. In his speech, the virologist also highlighted how important it is for young scientists to inspire each other. The internet platform he launched stems from the idea that ­researchers achieve more when they network. Madisch urged the young audience to develop their own ideas and to become independent as a result.

Networking makes for more effective researching

The Bayer Foundation is likewise committed to this open exchange of ideas, which is why it invited scholarship recipients from all over the world to the German capital. The upcoming young scientists not only had the opportunity to network with each other, but also to talk with former scholarship recipients and current award winners like Dr. Markus Bender, who received the Bayer Thrombosis Research Award 2015 (see also “When the body’s own sticking plaster fails”) for his work on a rare hereditary blood-clotting disease.

Talented minds, creativity and a passion for research are in demand at Bayer too, as are innovations to tackle social challenges. This aspect was addressed by four specially chosen young people from Bayer, one of whom was Pooja Merchant, a doctor who works in the Medical Affairs department at Bayer in Berlin. She previously participated in a Foundation project where Bayer employees facilitated the care of tuberculosis patients in Moldova. After all, out-of-the-box thinking and ideas can make all the difference when creative thinkers get together.