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 IU Trident Indiana University

Blood Biomarkers for Mood Disorders 

PI: Dr. Niculescu

Advanced Biomedical IT Core, Science Community Tools Group, UITS Research Technologies 

SASS Application Screen
Figure 1. Panel A illustrates the first screen of the Simple Affective State Scale (SASS) App. The user can score current mood by sliding the indicator. Panel B illustrates how the cumulative results can be stored and visualized on the user’s device. 

Accurately assessing patient mood is challenging in the clinical setting. Typically, the physician asks the patient to recollect his or her mood at a particular time or event in the past. This practice introduces the additional confounding factor of memory accuracy. Not only is the patient being asked to assess their memory, but to do so for some time in the past. Dr. Niculescu has long used daily logs to record patients’ moods on paper. This attempts to capture the mood as accurately as possible while the memory is still fresh in the patient’s mind. The electronic version of the daily log has been implemented as a smartphone Android App (Simple Affective State Scale, SASS) and allows for immediate and frequent capturing of data. The App is available from the Dr. Niculescu’s website at http://www.neurophenomics.info/sass%2011-15.apk.

Capturing mood measures on a frequent, periodic basis will enable the physician to more accurately assess the emotional state of the patient. The doctor may be able to spot trends, associate them with particular activities or triggers, and help the patient more effectively. Additionally, the patient may also be able to visualize and self regulate their mood, given an external tool that helps capture and store emotional data. These tools and practices may help improve emotional stability, and for military personnel returning to a peacetime environment, may help with making adjustments and improving productivity.  

Dr. Niculescu, an investigator at the IUPUI Department of Psychiatry, sponsored the development of the SASS App during 2013. Dr. Niculescu is supported by the NIHM, and also collaborates with the Roudebush Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Indianapolis. Although the VA has produced other Apps, SASS is unique in that the techniques are based on proven techniques and research conducted over a decade of research and practice


The Advanced Biomedical IT Core (ABITC) supports biomedical and health-related researchers throughout Indiana University – particularly researchers doing basic biomedical research, translational research, and clinical research (including researchers using electronic personal health information as part of their research data).

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Psychiatry (713) 

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) Computer Systems Analysis