Boston Education Interviews

Xperii: Helping clinical researchers find participants


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 What is Xperii?

Xperii connects researchers with eager participants in academic research, clinical trials and focus group testing. We allow for instant scheduling and a platform that is mobile, providing flexibility and the ability to earn cash while advancing science.

Xperii is a software platform that reduces the inefficiency in subject recruitment by linking people with the research studies they are interested in through an automatic, streamlined process. Founded by a Brown University student and an MIT neuroscientist, Xperii’s subject recruitment platform was conceptualized out of a personal need in recruiting subjects for cognitive neuroscience studies at MIT. Since its inception, we have interviewed many customers from various fields and have expanded the design of Xperii to go beyond subject recruitment and operate as a central cloud-based research SaaS platform. The entire platform automatically handles many of the other bottlenecks in human research including detailed pre-study subject screening, subject scheduling, subject payment, subject assessment on a number of standardized tests, follow-up data collection and subject monitoring, and secure data storage and analytics. Xperii serves researchers working in academia, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, focus groups, and product testing, and removes many of the tightest bottlenecks in the research process. We strive every day to make research more efficient and more effective, so that our customers are able to accelerate their research and develop tomorrow’s advancements today.

Who is your target user?

We are targeting users in the New England region, open to anyone who creates a profile via our site and wishes to participate in studies near them. One of the largest groups is millennials in school, who often desire opportunities but are unable to find them easily.

Why did you build Xperii? What problem are you taking on?

The product is being developed currently, with our landing page up and beta launching next month. We are tackling the bottleneck in subject recruitment, allowing subjects to be recruited quickly and more affordably than ever before. In the long-term, we aim to provide a suite of solutions for researchers, helping quicken the pace of medical breakthroughs and consumer testing.

How is Xperii different from what is currently available?

We offer a mobile-integrated solution, while also maintaining a consumer-centric approach. We don’t just pair you with subjects, we also manage scheduling and handle payment for the researchers/companies using our service.

Tell us your founding story. Was there an “ah ha” moment?

Our CEO (a prodigy and youngest-ever doctoral student at MIT in cognitive neuroscience) was posting fliers for recruiting subjects to a study he was conducting, when our co-founder and CTO Cynthia Chen asked him “if there are other methods he used?” When he said “no,” the idea of Xperii came to fruition. There is a paint point not solved – we are here to do it.

Tell us about your founding team and their backgrounds.

Chief Executive Officer – Evan Ehrenberg

Evan Ehrenberg is a prodigy and MIT’s youngest ever Ph.D. candidate in the brain and cognitive sciences department, he began the Ph.D. program at the age of 16 after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2010, and is now defending his thesis at the age of 22. Evan started college at the age of 11. He has past experience working at Palantir Technologies and other startups, and is an expert in experimental subject research in the domain of cognitive and computational neuroscience, with a diverse set of connections within the academic and entrepreneurship communities. Evan’s Ph.D. thesis used advanced machine learning techniques to mine data from magnetoencephalography (MEG) brain recordings in order to uncover novel brain activity related to face recognition. This discovery was a major breakthrough in the field of neuroscience and redefined the field’s understanding of face processing in the brain. Evan brings this expertise in data analytics, research project management, and experimental procedures to the many problems we solve at Xperii, and his experience running behavioral and neurological studies gives him unique insight into the pain points our customers face.

Chief Technology Officer – Cynthia Chen

Cynthia Chen leads the design and technical development of our software and also optimizes our inbound marketing strategies. She is a student at Brown University concentrating in computer science, mathematics and economics. Cynthia has prior startup experience and has received research fellowships and conducted research in bioinformatics, mathematics, computer vision, and subject-based experimental cognitive science at several institutions including MIT, University of Michigan, and Boston College. Much of her research has tie-in with the problems faced in drug development by many of our customers. During her mathematics and computer science work on knot theory at Boston College, Cynthia developed software to automatically determine the Khovanov homology, an invariant of oriented knots and links that arises as the homology of a chain complex, of any knot in bridge form. This work has potential implications in drug development as knot theory helps understand the phenomena of knotting protein backbone in biological organisms. Cynthia conducted further research at the intersection of math, computer science, and biochemistry at The University of Michigan, where she constructed software which enabled rapid searching of specific sequences in genomes. She used this software to explore distributions of different short tandem repeats in various genomes from The Human Genome Project. Finally, the work that Cynthia has lead with Evan Ehrenberg at MIT has presented an alternative explanation to a fundamental theory of innate face perception that is core to the nature vs. nurture debate in developmental neuroscience. In this research, Cynthia independently developed a computer vision and artificial intelligence system that learned to recognize faces from only 5 minutes of low-resolution video data, without any prior hard-coded templates for face perception. It was previously believed that newborns could not possibly learn to recognize faces with so little data, and would have to rely on innate face templates. This work disproves that these innate face templates are necessary to develop face preference behavior just minutes after birth and is a huge implication to the field of neuroscience, vision science and artificial intelligence.

Head of Business Development – Daniel S. Williams

Daniel Williams is a graduating Advanced-Standing Senior at Boston College in the Carroll School of Management majoring in Management, concentrated in Finance. Daniel has previously worked at several firms and startups handling taxes, banking and filing systems, and marketing initiatives. Daniel’s first pursuit was a consignment and purveying sales business direct-to-consumer, in which he transacted over $42,000 in a span of two part-time summers. Working alongside both individual and business clients alike at a CPA firm with Texas and Washington offices, he directly played a role in helping achieve client goals, consulting and preparing tax and accounting materials vital to business operations and personal finances as well. He was a Financial Advisory Intern at Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. during his junior year, where he fostered client initiatives, and joined Cynthia after envisioning the parallels to working alongside “clients” and partners alike. Value stems from many sources; Daniel’s cross-functional focus ensures it is garnered effectively.

Where can people find out more?