|Hi HN, I'm Padideh Kamali-Zare, co-founder and CEO at Darmiyan in the current YC batch (https://www.darmiyan.com/). We work on early detection of Alzheimer's disease.|
I'm told that launching on HN should come with the backstory of how we came to work on this, so I need to tell you about my grandmother, the most precious gift in my life. She was a poet who raised me, and was always full of life and stories to keep me amazed and excited. As the first female bank executive in a conservative society in the middle east, she was also socially progressive and outstanding. A brilliant brain. A beautiful mind. A few months before she died, on a sunny day, she told me: “Do you know what I want the most from my life?” I stared at her in silence. She continued: “To die decently while I still remember myself, my memories and my loved ones. It feels like as I’m getting older, I’m somehow losing my brain. As if my brain was lemon juice before and now it’s becoming lemonade.” That statement has been stuck in my brain ever since. Her wish never came true. She died not remembering even basic things of her amazing life.
Now, 14 years later, it’s been exactly 14 years that I’m researching human brain structure and function, and modeling how they degrade with age and by diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Believe it or not, it has been 110 years since the initial description of this devastating disease by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. Yet there hasn’t been much progress in pre-symptomatic diagnosis of the disease and no progress in finding a cure for it despite all advances in science and technology. One in every five Medicare dollars is spent on Alzheimer’s disease and the entire health care system will go bankrupt if no revolution happens in the field. “So, what is missing?”, I always asked. And what can be done to find the missing piece? I always tried to answer. Driven by these questions, I spent several years in biological physics master’s and PhD programs and neuroscience postdoctoral research.
Now I’m the founding CEO of Darmiyan. At Darmiyan we detect Alzheimer’s disease up to 15 years before symptoms, meaning exactly when treatments are feasible and brain damage could be slowed down just by simple life style changes such as regular exercise, eating well, and sleeping well. We do this early detection non-invasively, using only standard brain MRI. We have spent the last three years in Darmiyan developing and validating a software platform that models the human brain and simulates the tissue architecture underlying every individual voxel (3D pixel) of the brain MRI. Our proprietary methodology and results have been officially reviewed and approved by clinical Alzheimer’s experts at Stanford and the world leading Alzheimer’s expert and Nobel prize winner Paul Greengard. The most challenging part of our journey so far has been to get access to the largest MRI databases for Alzheimer’s disease and clinically validate the software. Now we have analyzed more than 3000 brain scans and our software’s predictions are 90% accurate.
My co-founders are Thomas Liebmann, PhD, a top-notch experimental neuroscientist who has managed to visualize the most hidden parts of the human brain through the eyes of the most advanced microscopes; and Kaveh Vejdani, MD, an extraordinary physician who always seeks complex problems at the interface of physics, biology and medicine and solves them with high level of knowledge, creativity and innovation. Thomas was my first office-mate in Stockholm 12 years ago. We met when I had just started my PhD at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden and we became friends on the first day. Kaveh and I met at a classical music event in New York 7 years ago and have been close friends ever since.
Our vision in Darmiyan is to help all those people in the world who suffer from complex brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. We want them to be diagnosed early and get cured. We want to save those millions of precious brains who are unfairly stolen by Alzheimer’s disease and bring them back to their family members.
Thanks for reading to the end! We look forward to hearing your feedback and questions.