Digital brain biomarker startup raises $15M in Series B funding

By Laura Lovett
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Mindstrong Health, a company that uses phone activity to measure mental health and behavior, has just closed a $15 million Series B funding round. 

This newest backing brings the startups total financing to $29 million, and will be used to scale the business and advance commercial deployments with partners in the healthcare industry. Mindstrong is backed by ARCH Venture Partners, Berggruen Holdings, Bezos Expeditions, Decheng Capital, Foresite Capital, Optum Ventures, and One Mind Brain Health Impact Fund.

The Palo Alto, California-based company is developing objective brain measures of brain function based on patterns of interaction with a smartphone. 

“We are a digital brain biomarker company that is really a measurement to cognitive function and mood. And this is all done through human interactions with your smartphone,” Elaine Cheung, vice president of marketing and policy at Mindstrong, said during a panel at last week’s BIO 2018. “It is content free, but it is looking at passively-collected objective and continuous measurements of cognitive function and mood. Essentially, this is bringing something to the field of neuropsychiatry and neurology that has never been possible before. Think about trying to manage diabetes without a continuous glucose monitor. ... Can we detect changes in cognitive state, be able to detect deterioration early in mental state in a variety of different neuropsychiatric conditions, and be able to intervene early? The proposition [is] to reduce hospital readmissions … that is very significant in the health system.” 

Mindstrong has been around since 2014, but really started grabbing public attention last year after former NIMH director Dr. Thomas Insel left Verily in order to work at the startup. It was cofounded by Insel and Dr. Paul Dagum, who patented the first digital measure of the central nervous system. This latest funding follows a $14 million Series A round in June of 2017. 

Mindstrong has recently been involved with a number of high-profile partnerships. Earlier this year, the company entered into a deal with Takeda Pharmaceuticals to apply the former's technology to identify digital biomarkers in schizophrenia and treatment-resistant depression, according to the company. 

Last August, Mindstrong, Verily Life Science, and the University of North Carolina announced they were teaming up to conduct a 19-site study of PTSD. The study, called the Aurora Study, is funded by a $21 million NIH grant and aims to enroll 5,000 people. 

“We appreciate the continued support of our early investors and we welcome Bezos Expeditions and Decheng Capital in our journey to transform brain healthcare," Mindstrong founder and CEO Paul Dagum said in a statement. "As the first company to develop comprehensive care pathways based on our passively-collected, continuous, and objective measures of cognitive function and mood, we are committed to improving behavioral healthcare with delivery models that move care from episodic clinic visits to preemptive outreach care that is technology enabled."