2019 PitcHER Finalists

Dr. Fereshteh Aalamifar

Dr. Fereshteh Aalamifar is the founder and CEO of PediaMetrix, an early stage startup in Maryland that aims to revolutionize pediatric health through AI and image processing. She holds a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University and an master’s degree from Queens University, Kingston, Canada in Electrical & Computer Engineering. She was recipient of the prestigious 2016 NIH doctoral Fellowship and has extensively published in medical imaging and robotics. In her doctoral work, she developed a co-robotic ultrasound tomography system for prostate cancer detection. Her doctoral work resulted in a $270,000 grant sponsored by NIH. She is inventor of three U.S. patents and author of 25 articles cited more than 100 times by the scientific community. Under her leadership, PediaMetrix was one of the recipients of 2019 NSF SBIR award ($225,000) for development of SoftSpot, the mobile health solution for early detection and identification of infant’s head deformity as well as NSF National i-Coprs award ($50,000) for customer discovery.

PediaMetrix’s mission is to revolutionize pediatric health by giving parents and pediatricians access to accurate and reliable diagnostic tools at the point-of-care, i.e. home, through image processing and artificial intelligence (AI). PediMetrix started with one of the most common conditions in newborns: positional plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome (FHS).

30% of newborns develop moderate to severe FHS. This is becoming a pediatric epidemic in the U.S. In addition to facial asymmetries and associated psychological pressure, FHS is correlated with developmental delays and other health conditions. There is not ample time during well-visits to sufficiently educate parents about FHS. As a result, many infants with correctable deformities end up needing intensive therapies. Three common treatment options include at-home repositioning therapy, in-the-office physical therapy (PT), and helmet therapy. The former two can be done either by parents at home at no cost or by a PT in- the office or remotely with at a fraction of cost but require 1) early diagnosis, 2) accurate measurements to produce case-specific instructions, and 3) follow-ups to ensure compliance and efficacy. Otherwise, helmet therapy ($3,000-$5,000) becomes the most viable option, in which case the baby has to wear a helmet 23 hours a day for a few months.

PediaMetrix’s mobile health solution helps parents in the earliest stages of FHS development with the three requirements to succeed with at home/PT treatment options. This technology uses patented AI-enabled quantitative image analysis algorithms that characterize the type and degree of FHS using photos of the infant’s head. These algorithms will be packaged in a mobile app, called SoftSpot, that allows parents to capture a few photographs of their infant’s head, and receive head shape analysis, infant-specific re-positioning instructions, and follow-ups to ensure compliance. It also puts parents in contact with PTs and other health professionals and shares the results with their pediatrician.

Fereshteh lives in North Potomac, Maryland with her husband and her 2-year old son. She is 31, and was born and raised in Isfahan, one of the touristic cities in the heart of Iran.