OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | TeamWise: Morpheus Health
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TeamWise: Morpheus Health

For many individuals with health concerns, selecting the correct medication for their body can be a daunting task. Most drugs have an extensive list of side effects, some of which can have significant consequences for the user. These side effects often affect people in different ways depending on several factors—the question is: how do you know how they will affect you personally? To answer this question and bring transparency to the medication-taking process, Ashkan Rohani and Ishan Mehta founded Morpheus Health. Morpheus Health is an online platform where one can access the potential side effects of a medication based on factors such as health history and bodily characteristics. “We want people to understand exactly which medication works for them, eliminating the trial-and-error process,” Ashkan explained.

The idea was inspired when Ashkan’s mother experienced a brief cancer scare. After successfully treating the disease in its early stage, her doctor presented her with the choice between four different hormonal treatments. When Ashkan and his mother attempted to do research on the drugs, they found only limited and conflicting information from previous users.

“In the end, we just had to choose blindly, and it’s terrible because I know that many others go through the same thing we did,” he lamented. “A lot of people are already going through the scariest time of their lives, and the last thing they want to experience are medication side effects on top of that.”

The issue goes past reducing side effects, though. The duo also have their sights on eliminating racial disparities in healthcare. “In clinical trials, they’re mostly testing on Caucasian people, while African Americans and Hispanics are experiencing 15-20% higher mortality rates,” Ishan explained.

Working aside startups at OwlSpark this summer has helped them to gain confidence in their abilities. “It’s reassuring to know that while our idea is going to take a lot of time and work, many others are in the same boat. Even the people who have made it past OwlSpark and succeeded have had their stumbles and struggles,” Ashkan says.

One of their biggest challenges has been navigating the market as an unconventional, intangible product. Getting to their end goal of helping as many patients as possible entails several obstacles and stakeholders, including influence from pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Both Ashkan and Ishan hold degrees from Rice University. Ashkan graduated in 2018 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry with a minor in Computer Science. Ishan on the other hand completed his degree in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Machine Learning. He’s now pursuing his Masters in Machine Learning at University of California San Diego.

While not working on Morpheus Health, Ishan enjoys sports analytics–coming up with new metrics to quantify players’ performance. Ashkan, on the other hand, is in the process of obtaining his private pilot’s license and has spent over twenty solo hours in the sky!