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NIH Awards Habit Design Prestigious Innovation Grant for Pioneering the Field of Habit Coaching

Seattle-Based Habit Design Awarded Nation’s First National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant Supporting the Emerging Science of Habit Coaching

Highly Competitive $1.7 Million Fast Track Grant to Help Grow Breakthrough, Clinically Validated Program That Accelerates Healthy Habits Initiative Supported by Strategic Partnerships with The University of Washington and TriHealth

Seattle, WA (September 9, 2019) - Habit Design®, Inc., a leading behavior-change training company founded by clinical psychologists and behavior scientists from the University of Washington, Yale, and Stanford (, today announced it has received the nation’s first NIH grant to advance the emerging science of habit coaching.

The unprecedented $1.7 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Fast Track award was conferred by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Habit Design represents one of only two such awardees this year, which is less than one percent of all SBIR applicants, and only the second company ever bestowed the prestigious award from Washington State.

Led by Michael Kim, Habit Design’s Founder, CEO and Principal Investigator for the project, the award is the first-ever NIH grant in the U.S. focused on accelerating the formation of lasting healthy habits and is supported by researchers from the University of Washington (UW) and TriHealth, a subsidiary of Catholic Health Initiatives, the largest non-profit hospital system in the U.S.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that virtually all Americans (97%) have failed to achieve the four basic healthy lifestyle habits: healthy eating, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and ideal body fat percentage—and 80% of all heart disease incidents, 80% of diabetes incidents, and 40% of cancers could be prevented if Americans mastered just the first three,” said Kim. “Receiving this non- dilutive funding from the largest single public funder of biomedical research in the world accelerates our capabilities and leadership towards enabling everyone to ‘master the force of habit’ for greater well-being and productivity.”

Habit Design is the first clinically validated, evidence-based habit coaching system proven to accelerate new habits. Independent, peer-reviewed research shows that despite common wisdom, it takes as long as 66 days (not 21 as many believe) or more to form the habits that really matter. Data also shows that nearly 80% of those trying to create new habits give up after just six weeks.

Research featured by the American Psychological Association shows Habit Design efficiently and effectively automates habit formation of 83% of study participants in just nine days. The breakthrough is an integration of more than 100 clinically validated, evidence-based behavior change protocols through a simple, personalized, and easy-to-use daily training program, supported by live, clinical psychologists and an optional smartphone app.

Kim added, “More than 100,000 people from more than 500 companies have applied Habit Design training to create more than one million new healthy habits, covering everything from daily exercise, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, smoking cessation, productivity, and leadership habits.”

The NHLBI SBIR Fast Track grant combines both a “Phase I” feasibility study and a “Phase II” clinical trial over a three-year period. The grant will apply Habit Design’s program to accelerate the formation of new habits to people at risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS) at work. In the United States, metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a major public health crisis that affects more than one-in-three American adults and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and several forms of cancer. Research suggests that addressing MetS through the workplace could significantly benefit employee health and employer healthcare costs.

Partnerships with UW, TriHealth Integrate Breakthrough Program into Healthcare

The grant will showcase the innovative contributions of two pioneering organizations in the emerging field of habit coaching: the UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute and TriHealth. Together, they will train and support more than 400 patients and their health coaches as the first healthcare organizations to lend research support to a federally-funded initiative for training habit formation.

“Our enthusiasm in partnering with Habit Design is related to our commitment to support the use of evidence-based practices in health behavior change, and to our outstanding initial success testing Habit Design internally among our own corporate wellness health coaches—93% of whom were successful in applying Habit Design towards automating a new daily habit within just nine days,” said Terri Hanlon- Bremer, VP of TriHealth Employer Solutions. “To our knowledge, no other habit training protocol has matched this degree of success.”

“Habit Design is a breakthrough behavior change system that supplements one-on-one coaching with a simple yet elegant synthesis of multiple behavior change techniques, supported by a state-of-the-art smartphone application,” says Dr. Susan Stoner of UW and Co-Principal Investigator of the project. “Integrating well-established habit formation strategies with principles of behavioral economics and contingency management, the Habit Design program is applicable to a broad range of healthcare issues, from medication adherence to addiction recovery, exercise to healthy eating.”

Research referenced in this announcement is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44HL142328.


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