Learn how technology can help with brain health with Dr. Kaveh Vejdani

Learn how technology can help with brain health with Dr. Kaveh Vejdani
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Dr. Kaveh Vejdani is part of a team of scientists, doctors, AI experts, and business strategists focused on addressing the global economic and health crisis of Alzheimer’s. His Darmiyan team is working to eliminate the uncertainty in clinics and pharmaceutical development about mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s dementia.

“As a person ages, they get forgetful and it takes more work to find things. A huge source of anxiety is the worry that these are early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Lots of times it’s not.” 

For those who are starting to show early signs of dementia, having an early diagnosis can make a big difference. This allows them to adjust their lifestyle habits, organize care, and customize daily life activities. Prior planning can significantly help reduce caregiver stress.

Follow programming passions and find efficiencies

Darmiyan cofounders Kaveh Vejdani, Thomas Liebmann (not pictured), and Padideh Kamali-Zare (not pictured) participated in the S17 class of the illustrious YCombinator engine for startups.

Dr. Vejdani was always passionate about software and programming. As a  boy, he taught himself basic programming skills from books and on a Commodore 64 PlayStation. He later developed a passion for biology and medicine. In medical school, he realized he could combine his passions for software and programming with medicine in the areas of medical imaging, medical software, and app development.

He developed a couple of medical apps to help with hospital organization. His initial app helped to create a digital checklist for doctors. This way they didn’t have to carry large books and flashcards around for diagnostic reference. The app assured doctors went through the legally and medically required 30 point checklist and didn’t miss anything prior to establishing someone as brain dead. Another app helped doctors estimate the risk of kidney damage from contrast injection for CT scanning. A simple app helped reduce the chances of human error and facilitated things for the doctors.

“When you work in a hospital environment, you see lots of inefficiencies because it’s a complex system. Even a printer not printing a lab result has an impact. So you want to do things as efficiently as possible and reduce errors.”

Dr. Vejdani knew developing apps wasn't his long-term passion. Instead, he pursued other work combining imaging, medicine, and software. 

“Programming initially was a keen hobby of mine. As I discovered the medical applications of programming, it all came together. I developed these two skill sets in parallel to complement each other. At Darmiyan, I combine my medical knowledge and programming background in meaningful work. We work towards a solution that would ultimately help doctors and patients see through software analysis neurodegenerative problems that are invisible to the human eye.” 

During his internal medicine residency in New York, Dr. Vejdani noticed that a lot of clinical decisions were based on lab results or imaging. This steered him toward his specialization in nuclear medicine that tied together physics, human anatomy, and programming.

“There are lots of errors you can catch with code. Simple things like age mismatch on a chart, and with imaging, there is so much more. There are so many things that a human eye can miss. You put correct information in one time and software reliably catches changes or errors 100% of the time.”

By using software, some analyses can be done more accurately. Combining software with imaging like MRIs has a considerable cost-benefit. MRIs are rich in biological information that is underutilized. This information is not visible to the human eye, so currently is not being extracted and used, but the software could utilize this in the future.

“If we use software efficiently it can help to minimize and eliminate human errors. Plus, image analysis software in our virtual microscope identifies neurodegeneration that the human eye can’t see. The information from MRI data numbers and machine learning allows for a more detailed analysis that directly results in clinical benefit.”

Ease the current experience of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease

Dr. Kaveh Vejdani presents innovative research and validation data at multiple medical and pharmaceutical conferences. Darmiyan's next poster will be visible in October at ANA 21, the top meeting for academic neurologists and neuroscientists.

Testing for Alzheimer’s disease right now could be more scientific. People often arrive for these tests with memory or language troubles. However, these symptoms can be related to many different issues, like hypothyroidism, depression, concussion, tumor, or stroke.

Once alternative diseases are ruled out, cognitive evaluations such as MMSE and MoCA are used to evaluate memory, orientation, and language. If tests are inconclusive or there are no immediate signs of tumors, strokes, or other diseases often patients are asked to return in 3-6 months for a re-evaluation.

That’s all doctors can do right now - watch and wait until they see a change.

More comprehensive testing like PET scans for the brain is expensive and tends not to be covered by insurance. Other testing is often inconclusive or hard to access.

Darmiyan hopes in the future to utilize its BrainSee software with MRIs, to create affordable and widely accessible brain health routine checkups and monitoring processes.

“Right now we are focused on addressing Alzheimer’s but perhaps in the future, this could provide insight into other cognitive impairments and dementia progression.”

Early diagnosis and monitoring the progress of diseases will help to alleviate some of the stress put on caregivers. Ideally, it will allow for clearer ways for doctors to get information and more accurate scientific data.

Envision the future for brain health

Darmiyan Chief Medical and Technology Officer Dr. Kaveh Vejdani received the CABHI I2P2 innovator award with Darmiyan CEO Padideh Kamali-Zare. Baycrest research innovation director Roseanne Aleong, center, later managed the company's technology validation process including the Rotman Research Institute and others.

Dr. Vejdani is among the scientists and doctors who envision a better approach to brain health including standard brain check-ups, quantitative analysis of live brain tissue at a microscope scale, and non-invasive brain diagnosis using technology: 

  • Standard Brain Check-Ups: There is a standard checkup for every organ of the body but nothing for the brain. Brain health is a big risk factor for aging health. Future Alzheimer's diagnoses that are more effective than cognitive questionnaires at early-stage diagnosis could be broadly utilized.
  • Non-invasive Brain Diagnosis - Improved use of imaging can provide an objective and non-invasive measurement of Alzheimer’s.
  • Analysis on a Microscopic Scale - The human eye can’t see everything. Ideally, soon we will have a way to analyze brain health at the cellular level on a microscopic scale, using just a simple routine clinical brain MRI.
“The ultimate goal for us is that this virtual microscope tech becomes applicable for the general population. Everyone middle-aged and up person will be able to get a brain health check-up. “

Start caring for your brain health today

In his spare time, Dr. Vejdani loves hang gliding so he can see the landscape from a higher level and what's on the horizon.

Start taking care of your brain early. Don’t wait for symptoms to do the right things. Then hopefully you never have symptoms. According to Dr. Vejdani, there are things you can do starting today to help your brain health.

“Remember what is good for your cardiovascular system is also good for your brain! 

Here are Dr. Vejdani’s key tips beyond a healthy lifestyle for you to focus on your brain health

  1. Maintain a healthy diet - Limit foods rich in fat and refined sugars. 
  2. Exercise - Get daily exercise to keep your whole body in shape.
  3. Sleep - Getting enough sleep is important; like a nightly shower for your brain cells, it increases brain fluid flow and helps to remove toxins from around the cells.
  4. Cognitive Training - Engage your mind with brain games, books, learning a new language, or anything else that keeps your brain active.
  5. Social connective - Social connections and engaged interactions assure positive mental health which ensures brain health.

No matter what, it is important to remember that knowledge is power. Instead of stigmatizing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, it is important to have a brain health plan. Be aware, present, and patient if one needs to get creative with dementia care.

Learn more about brain health, research, and technology

Darmiyan, was listed among San Francisco biotech companies for great management, innovation and social impact in 2021 by BestStartup magazine. Cofounders Thomas Liebmann (Chief Scientific Officer), Padideh Kamali-Zare (CEO) and Kaveh Vejdani (Chief Medical and Technology Officer) remain close collaborators.

Learn more about brain health and research on Wednesday, September 29. Join the live GetSetUp Guest Speaking event Know Your Brain Health Using Technology. Guest Speaker Dr. Kaveh Vejdani will speak on how technology can help detect the early signs of diseases like Alzheimer's disease. He will share how early detection can lead to improved lifestyle choices. Plus learn research-based tips to help live and care for loved ones with mild cognitive impairments or dementia.

Learn how technology can help with brain health with Dr. Kaveh Vejdani
Learn how technology can help with brain health with Dr. Kaveh Vejdani
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Learn how technology can help with brain health with Dr. Kaveh Vejdani
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