PPD ACT Research App Gets Makeover, Social Media Boost

Mom Genes Fight PPD made its debut last week at the Marcé of North America (MONA) perinatal mental health conference hosted by UNC. The research app, formerly called PPD ACT, along with its website and social media pages, were transformed in an effort to renew interest and participation in the postpartum depression (PPD) genetics study.

PPD ACT Research App Gets Makeover, Social Media Boost click to enlarge Mom Genes Fight PPD

October 31, 2019

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry, unveiled the new look and messaging of Mom Genes Fight PPD during her welcome speech for the international meeting of MONA, of which she is the current president. Meltzer-Brody and her team of researchers launched PPD ACT in 2016 as a mobile app-based study helping to further the understanding of why some women suffer from PPD and others do not. By learning more about the genetics associated with PPD, researchers can craft more effective treatments and better identify mothers who could be at risk for PPD before pregnancy.

“Postpartum depression is the most common medical complication of childbirth, impacting 1 in 8 women that give birth,” said Meltzer-Brody, Assad Meymandi Distinguished Professor of psychiatry. “It's something that can be really devastating, and is also the number one cause of maternal mortality from suicide.”

The app surveys women for symptoms of PPD and invites certain women to provide DNA samples through a spit kit so that researchers can study the genes of those affected by PPD. The eventual goal is to collect 100,000 samples from around the world. Since the app was launched in iOS in 2016, and Android in 2017, around 4,000 samples have been collected and the app has been downloaded more than 17,700 times.

One of those app downloads came from a leader within the California creative agency WongDoody. Each year the company chooses a pro bono project that lends their talents to a cause they believe in. This year they chose PPD ACT. Members of the company reached out to Meltzer-Brody and research team member Holly Krohn, MPH, to offer their services.

“Our study email account gets lots of solicitous requests, but I knew something was different when I saw an email come though from the President of WongDoody this past summer,” Krohn said. “Usually folks are asking something from us but this was an offer to help. Thankfully for us, they believe in advancing awareness and new treatments for PPD.”

The study’s website, social media channels, and app not only got an appearance upgrade, but also a new name and branding focused on educating and empowering women. Although it has a new look, the Mom Genes Fight PPD app still takes users through a survey and asks select participants to donate DNA. WongDoody and the UNC team have more plans in the works for Mom Genes, and are excited about the implications of what more visibility could mean for their research.

“It has been amazing to have WongDoody come and help brand and promote our work,” said Jerry Guintivano, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and data analyst for this study. “As genetics researchers, we do not receive advertising and public relations training. Their efforts have been invaluable to getting our research disseminated to more women, ultimately allowing us to have more representation in our work to understand the genetic underlying of postpartum depression.”

Mom Genes Fight PPD is a collaboration amongst multiple UNC researchers and staff, including Patrick Sullivan, MD, director of the Center for Psychiatric Genomics and Yeargen Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Genetics, along with Carol Lewis, executive Director of the UNC Center for Health Innovation.

Mom Genes Fight PPD is available on iOS and Android. You can follow along with the research and social media campaign on their website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Share This:
Filed under: