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LifeBio Inc. and Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging Receive Federal SBIR Grant

By Jeanne Hoban | | September 2020

$2.5 million Small Business Innovation Research grant will aid in the development of reminiscence tools for individuals with dementia

Accessing recent memories can be difficult for individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, while long-term memories of personal importance often remain into the later stages. Research suggests reminiscence therapy, including life story work (the use of written and oral life histories), can be an effective way to tap into those long-term memories and improve mood for individuals with dementia.

To that end, LifeBio Inc. and Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging were recently awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health to develop and test an online platform to facilitate life story work for individuals with dementia. The two-year grant totals $2,499,818.

The highly competitive SBIR program encourages U.S. small businesses such as LifeBio Inc. to partner with nonprofit organizations like Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging to engage in federal research and development with the potential for commercialization.

Through the grant, LifeBio Inc. is developing a reminiscence therapy platform—LifeBio MemoryTM—with a novel machine-learning-based application, that transfers speech to text and generates life stories. It will serve as an interactive tool to cultivate communication between people living with dementia and their care partners. The platform will employ new machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and tagging to automatically build summaries of the stories, in Snapshot and Action Plan formats, that are quickly and easily available to health care providers and caregivers.

"Every person is unique and there is so much to know," said Beth Sanders, founder and CEO of LifeBio Inc. "The LifeBio MemoryTM application will capture and store individuals' stories with voice, photos and other media and ultimately deliver a point-of-care personalized experience for people living with Alzheimer's Disease. We believe it will be transformational in building relationships and impacting quality."

The development of the online platform builds on a successful pilot project in nursing homes that demonstrated that the first-generation LifeBio product can facilitate person-centered care by helping nursing home staff better understand residents through their personal life stories.

"We are excited to grow our existing partnership with LifeBio, Inc., and help bring the LifeBio program to the cutting edge of person-and-family-centered care," said Silvia Orsulic-Jeras, Research Associate at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. "Our previous pilot study of the original LifeBio program demonstrated positive findings, such as reducing depression, increasing job satisfaction among nursing home staff as well as achieving high levels of satisfaction with the program from residents."

She added, "With the new LifeBio MemoryTM study, we hope to not only replicate those promising results but to demonstrate improvements in residents' levels of agitation, anxiety, and loneliness as well as improved relationship quality between persons living with dementia and staff."

As part of the current project, Benjamin Rose researchers will conduct focus group evaluations of prototypes of the new platform with former and current users of the existing LifeBio program, as well as potential new users living at home or in senior living organizations. A full-scale fidelity trial of the enhanced product will be conducted with staff who work with people with dementia in residential care settings, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Staff and resident participants will be asked questions surrounding closeness, empathy, communication and the quality of life/relationships to determine the effectiveness of the program in promoting and improving person-centered care.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Federal Award Identification Number R44AG069566. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


About Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging: Founded in 1908, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging ( is a nationally recognized Cleveland-based nonprofit whose mission is to advance support for older adults and caregivers. This work is accomplished by deepening the understanding of their evolving needs in a changing society; promoting effective public policies; and developing and delivering innovative, high-quality solutions, including evidence-based programs that are tested and proven by research to achieve beneficial outcomes for consumers.

About LifeBio Inc.: LifeBio Inc., a company based in Marysville, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, has 20 years of experience with reminiscence and life story work. LifeBio ( is deployed in senior living, health care and in homes across the U.S. and Canada to capture key memories and experiences for people age 65+ typically or people facing life-limiting conditions. LifeBio was established as a result of our founder's interview with her own grandmother who was living with early-stage dementia. This new approach will build on a history of technological innovation and knowledge of how to ask the right questions to bring out the best stories.