Andamio Games Wins $1.1 Million NIH Award

Grant supports development of STEM learning game to increase adolescent engagement in substance abuse treatment

We are pleased to announce the award of a 3-year, $1.1 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to transform psycho-education for adolescents and young adults in substance use disorder treatment. The highly-competitive SBIR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund, funds early-stage innovative technology for commercialization.

Young people have a particularly low treatment success rate, and there is a need for novel approaches that are specifically tailored to them. The NIGMS SBIR award will fund the creation of interactive digital educational tools to provide treatment clients with critical information about the neurobiology of addiction and recovery. Effective education on this topic represents an important step towards addressing the opioid and substance abuse epidemic.

Andamio Games is delivering an incredibly innovative way to provide education about substance abuse at a critical time,...
— Pat Dillon, MHTA

This project brings together our experienced instructional designers and software engineers with nationally-renowned substance abuse researchers from the Center for Studies of Addiction in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and education evaluation experts from the University of Minnesota. The team will design and create the educational app BrainAware and carry out a field study with adolescents and young adults undergoing substance use disorder treatment to evaluate its educational efficacy and potential impact on treatment outcomes.

The project is based on iNeuron, the neuroscience app we developed in partnership with the University of Minnesota, and funded through a previous NIMH SBIR and two Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) from the National Center for Research Resources. The educational efficacy of iNeuron has been established in a multi-school classroom study (Schleisman et al., in press) and it has been downloaded over 100,000 times.

Dr. Katrina Schleisman, Principal Investigator: “Our goal with BrainAware is to provide a new, engaging learning experience that teaches cutting-edge scientific information about how the brain changes as result of addiction and how it can change through recovery, in a way that appeals to this age group. Our project also fits in with new NIH efforts to address the opioid epidemic, namely the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative, which was just launched in April 2018.”

After successful completion of the Phase II study, the BrainAware app and a companion counselor dashboard will be marketed to treatment facilities across the nation through a partnership with Hazelden Publishing. BrainAware is expected to be the first of what will ultimately be a comprehensive, interactive digital curriculum for substance abuse treatment.

“Andamio Games is delivering an incredibly innovative way to provide education about substance abuse at a critical time, as people across the U.S. continue to grapple with the opioid addiction crisis,” says Pat Dillon, Program Director at MN-SBIR, hosted at the Minnesota High Tech Association. “This million-dollar award by NIH is a strong endorsement for Andamio Games’ novel approach.”

About Us: Andamio Games® produces evidence-based mobile device games to make hard-to-learn subjects more engaging and effective. We are in the final year of a National Science Foundation grant, which has funded the development of a life science app, CellEnergy Photosynthesis Labs, to be released this fall. andamiogames.com

About Hazelden Publishing: The mission of Hazelden Publishing is to provide products and services to help people recognize, understand, and overcome addiction and closely related problems. Our goal is to publish real-world resources that are accessible for all experience levels and all learning styles. Hazelden Publishing

About MN-SBIR and the Minnesota High Tech Association: The MN-SBIR Program is hosted at the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA). MN-SBIR is the state's program to help companies to successfully access non-dilutive federal funding opportunities. MN-SBIR is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. MHTA is an innovation and technology association fueling prosperity and making Minnesota a top five technology state. Mhta.org |@mhta | minnesota-high-tech-association