Think Tank Meetings

A ‘Think Tank’ Meeting is our Center’s novel take on what it means to host a ”really good brainstorming session.” This meeting is an incubator session, where both behavioral intervention scientists and methodologists come together with the goal of developing an idea related to adaptive interventions and taking it to the next level.

What is meant by an “idea related to adaptive interventions”?

Our Think Tanks focus on developing ideas related to optimizing Adaptive Interventions (AIs), Just-In-Time Adaptive Interventions (JITAIs), Multi-modal Adaptive Interventions (MADIs), Multilevel Adaptive Implementation Strategies (MAISYs), and 2nd Generation Just-In-Time Adaptive Interventions (2G-JITAIs).

What is meant by “optimizing” these different types of adaptive interventions?

One approach to optimization involves the use of novel, randomized trial designs that can be used to answer critical questions preventing scientists from recommending or building a highly-effective AI, JITAI, MADI or MAISY. These trial designs include standard factorial and fractional factorial designs, Sequential, Multiple-Assignment, Randomized Trials (SMARTs), Micro-Randomized Trials (MRTs), Hybrid SMART-MRTs, and Multilevel Implementation SMARTs (MI-SMARTs). We also develop artificial intelligence algorithms that can be embedded in a JITAI in order to optimize its effectiveness (these are called 2G-JITAIs). You can learn more about the distinction between optimizing versus evaluating by visiting our Optimization web page.

What types of topics can be workshopped at a Think Tank Meeting?

Any topic related to AIs, JITAIs, MADIs, MAISY’s or 2G-JITAIs is fair game. Examples include:

  • Designing a pilot study for examining feasibility and acceptability considerations in the development of an adaptive intervention, a JITAI, a MADI, a MAISY, or a related design.
  • How to design an effective AI, JITAI, MADI or MAISY
  • How to design or analyze an observational study data set for informing the design of an AI, JITAI, MADI or MAISY, or their corresponding optimization trial designs
  • How to design a randomized trial for optimizing empirically an AI, JITAI, MADI or MAISY, including (but not limited to) using any one or combination of the following trial designs:
    • standard factorial design,
    • fractional factorial design,
    • SMART,
    • MRT,
    • Hybrid SMART-MRT or
    • MI-SMART
  • How to conduct the analysis of the primary and/or secondary aims for one of these optimization trials

Are you a clinician, scientist, or methodologist who is interested in attending a d3c Think Tank Meeting?

Great! Sign-up to be part of our Think Tank Meeting email list by clicking HERE. When you click on the button, you’ll get a chance to sign up for other d3c email lists.

Are you a clinician, scientist, or methodologist who is interested in leading a Think Tank Meeting?

Let’s talk. Please discuss your idea with Inbal Nahum-Shani, or Daniel Almirall. The best time to catch them is in person is at one of our weekly Center Meetings.

If I am interested in leading a Think Tank Meeting, can I bring my team with me?

Yes! We always encourage the Think Tank Leader to bring their entire team (e.g., Co-Is, quantitative analyst/biostatistician, project managers, etc.) to participate in the Think Tank Meeting, as this almost always leads to higher-quality scientific discussions.

Do you have any rules of conduct?

Yes, we go by one rule. Our single rule is d3c’s version of a Universal Reciprocity Principle: Any and all of the ideas shared at a Think Tank Meeting are for improving the Think Tank leader’s science; and the Think Tank leader is free to use or not use those ideas. This means that, once shared, no ideas are “owned” by the person sharing the idea; and there is no expectation that the Think Tank leader must ask for permission to use this idea.

What are some general Do’s and Don’ts for Think Tank Leaders?


  • Prepare a 2-page handout with the necessary background. The bottom of page 2 should end with a list of 2-3 methodological challenges or barriers that you’d like to workshop. (A 3rd page may include a schematic of the intervention design or trial design.)
    • Submit this to Stephanie Carpenter for review 14 days before your brainstorm.
    • We will give you feedback. Once polished, we will send it out to participants 5-7 days before the brainstorm.
  • Prepare an “presentation” of no more than 15 minutes (that is, 7-10 slides)
    • The last slide should be your list of 2-3 methodological challenges
    • All other slides constitutes background material or set-up
  • Anticipate some of our questions and have some back-up slides ready
  • Ask for clarification when ideas are shared. It is OK to ask for a summary.
  • Bring a colleague or Co-Investigator who is willing to take notes so that you can focus on the discussion.


  • Do not plan to give a typical conference or departmental presentation. This is not a talk.
  • Do not go past 15 minutes.

Think Tank Meetings

Think Tank Meeting: Kristin Gainey, Lauren Bylsma, & Dave Fresco – 6/24
3pm – 4:30pm

Think Tank Meeting: Catherine Asher – 4/29
3pm – 4:30pm

Think Tank Meeting: Lara Coughlin Presenting – 1/7
3pm – 4:30pm

Think Tank Meeting: Ewa Czyz Presenting – 1/21
3pm – 4:30pm

Think Tank Meeting: Becca Sripada – 10/15
3pm – 4:30pm

Think Tank Meeting: Michael Sobolev – 10/15
3pm – 4:30pm