Skip to main content
Press Release

Rett Syndrome Research Trust Awards $1.1 Million to Emerald Innovations to Develop Novel Invisible Biosensor for Objective Measures of Rett Symptoms

Media Contact
Monica Coenraads
Chief Executive Officer
Rett Syndrome Research Trust
February 21, 2023

TRUMBULL, CT — The Rett Syndrome Research Trust (RSRT) is excited to announce a $1.1 million dollar research award to Dina Katabi, PhD, and her team at Emerald Innovations. The funding will enable Dr. Katabi and Emerald Innovations to continue developing cutting-edge technology to directly and objectively assess symptoms of irregular breathing, sleep disruptions, and movement in individuals with Rett syndrome. The new study builds upon pilot results that demonstrated Emerald’s feasibility to assess Rett syndrome symptoms at home, capturing significant disruptions in sleep and breathing over a four-week period — all without touching the patient.

Emerald technology is invisible, meaning it assesses a patient’s physiology when they are in the vicinity of the device, keeping it in a distinct class from wearable technologies that require constant contact. Emerald also preserves privacy — it does not use cameras or microphones, or capture audio or video. Instead, it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to measure movements, sleep, and vital signs from very low power radio waves in the environment, advancing a new era to collect continuous data at home. It allows families and their loved ones with Rett to go about their daily lives while enabling detailed characterization of various symptoms to generate highly specific representative datasets. Alba Tull, a member of RSRT’s Board of Trustees, investor, and philanthropist generously donated $500,000 to support the upcoming study for Rett syndrome.

Dr. Katabi is the president and co-founder of Emerald Innovations, a spinout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Dr. Katabi serves as the inaugural Thuan and Nicole Pham Professor in the Department of Engineering and Computer Science, director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing, and leader of the Networks at MIT Research Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering as well as the American Academy for Arts and Sciences, a MacArthur Fellow, and the recipient of various prestigious awards, including the Sloan Research Fellowship and the ACM Computing Prize. In 2015, she presented Emerald to President Obama at White House Demo Day, which focused on breakthroughs in technology.

“We are very excited to advance the Emerald device in this rare disease to facilitate better patient management and support the assessment of therapeutics in development,” said Dr. Katabi. “The breathing and sleep patterns we observed in Rett individuals are quite disrupted, and we are confident that Emerald’s ability to systematically and objectively assess symptoms unobtrusively at home will improve the lives of patients and their families.”

Dr. Katabi’s most recent publications, in Science Translational Medicine and Nature Medicine, demonstrate the power of the technology in Parkinson’s disease. Emerald was able to predict risk of diagnosis, and more sensitively detect prognosis and medication effects than current standards. She hopes insights from Emerald will similarly benefit Rett syndrome.

Members of RSRT’s Biomarker Consortium, consisting of subject matter experts and representatives from biopharmaceutical companies developing genetic medicines for Rett, provided constructive feedback on the study design and will have early access to the data. The Emerald sensor is currently being utilized in drug development for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and several immune diseases. Validation of the device in the upcoming Rett study will make it easier to support Rett clinical development efforts as well.

“The Emerald provides direct, objective measures of symptoms captured continuously over days, weeks, months, or longer, generating significantly richer data in shorter timeframes than can be obtained in traditional in-clinic studies,” said Jana von Hehn, PhD, RSRT’s chief scientific officer, who will oversee study operations. “We are excited to continue this important work with Emerald, guided by our Biomarker Consortium and FDA advice, to facilitate more efficient clinical trials and truly effective therapeutics.”


RSRT is a nonprofit organization with a highly personal and urgent mission: achieving a cure for Rett syndrome and related disorders caused by defects in the MECP2 gene. Since its founding in 2008, RSRT has awarded $66 million, more than any other Rett organization in the world, to leading scientists pursuing targeted research on Rett. RSRT funds and spearheads global scientific and clinical activities advancing the most promising curative approaches. To date, every biopharmaceutical company pursuing a cure for Rett syndrome is doing so because they leveraged discoveries and resources incubated with RSRT funding. To learn more, please visit


Emerald Innovations, Inc. is a spin-out from MIT that is transforming digital health monitoring from wearables to invisibles. It is based on an artificial intelligence-powered sensor that continuously measures movements, vital signs, sleep, and behavior by analyzing the wireless signals bouncing in the environment. Emerald’s passive technology eliminates the need for patients to wear devices on their body. Emerald is being used by the world’s largest pharma and biotech companies, and leading disease research foundations in clinical trials in all phases, and in a variety of therapeutic areas — neurology, immunology, and rare diseases. For more information, please visit