Here at Aepios, our mission is to inspire hope and healing by facilitating open communication between members with a shared diagnosis. We aim to close regional gaps in medical care through shared experiences, treatments, and outcomes reported by members nationwide.
Aepios is an acronym, meaning, An Empowering Place to Interact and Openly Share. Aepios represents nurturing healthcare. Aepios represents safety. We at Aepios say to you, “You are loved. The Aepios team is behind you.”
Aepios began in 2010 with two brothers and an epiphany.
The brothers were in medical school when they noticed that patients often felt scared, confused, lonely, and depressed following a new diagnosis. They asked themselves, “How can we improve our patients’ experience? What can we do to make our patients feel both safe and well-informed?” The brothers were determined to bridge the gaps in the medical system – but from the patient’s perspective.
Kaiser Hussain MD
Aun Hussain MD
Vascular and Interventional Radiology
One major concern they had was the lack of peer support following a new diagnosis; More than a psychological condition, depression is associated with a weakened immune system, and in turn, poorer medical prognosis. Patients in this cycle may have a more difficult healing journey. Conversely, patients with a stable support system are less likely to feel depressed, resulting in a stronger immune system and an improved medical prognosis. With that in mind, the brothers decided to create a community that focuses on shared member experience as a powerful tool for learning and healing. They envision a global network where members can connect to other members when they need it the most.
Another problem, the brothers realized, is that patients often accept what they are initially told about their condition, its treatments, and outcomes, without realizing that what is typical at one hospital or region may not be true everywhere. Having come from a low-income background themselves, they recognized that there is a relationship between regional variations in socioeconomic status and treatment strategies and patient outcomes. To close these gaps, the brothers sought to consolidate information from various resources – personal, medical, and social – so that people can understand their condition more comprehensively.
To further facilitate this process; Aepios is building a database of treatments and outcomes for a wide range of conditions. With this model, members will be able to search for treatments they were not previously made aware of. Armed with new information taken from various sources, members will be empowered to ask their doctor high-quality questions to improve their quality of life.
With a focus on personal support systems backed by a database of powerful information, Aepios is paving the way for whole and equitable medical care. Aepios is a diverse team of practicing medical doctors, research scientists, technologists, and digital marketers committed to redefining healthcare.
Let’s heal together. Become a member of Aepios today.
Christina DeSerio ( CEO )
What is your background?
I am a neuroscientist by education, with extensive training in cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and vision science. Having trained in some of the best labs in the world, I have experience with a wide range of disorders, treatments, and research methodologies.
While knee-deep in my junior year of undergrad at UC Berkeley, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and degenerative disk disease. I had to take a semester off later that year to have emergency surgery on my spine. Needless to say, I was still in the midst of digesting my new diagnoses when I graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s in Psychology.
How does your personal experience contribute to where aepios is today?
I met the founders of Aepios in 2019, just before I completed my graduate degree in neuroscience. Given my personal history with fibromyalgia and DDD, the mission of Aepios – to provide An Encouraging Place to Interact and Openly Share – really captured my heart and my attention. Almost immediately I threw all of my years of experience leading research programs and developing and managing projects into Aepios. We redesigned the site with a more targeted goal of providing an uplifting environment for people to connect with others safely and people have really responded to it.
When you were diagnosed with fibromyalgia and DDD, how did you find support, or did you feel like there was a lack of it?
I felt very alone when I was first diagnosed. While the disabilities services at UC Berkely are among the best in the country, I still had professors who would refuse to provide appropriate disability accommodations, because to them, I “didn’t look sick”. I didn’t know how to explain my condition to them. I felt scared, isolated, unseen, and confused. I didn’t know who to trust or which treatments were right for me. It took years of research on my own to understand my condition better, and I am still learning today.
My struggle to find emotional support for my condition lasted for years as well. As I struggled to carry the heavy load of graduate school while in constant pain, I recall asking my disabilities advocate if they offered any support groups for people who experienced chronic pain. Rather then helping me find the support I needed, their response was to tell me that I might want to find a less challenging career path to follow.
If Aepios existed then, I could have spoken directly to people who experience the same challenges as me. With just a few clicks, I would have had a friend right there, to tell me not to give up. They would have understood without any explanation that my disorder is real, it’s hard, and that I can get through it. I bet they would have told me that all of the pain I was experiencing would lead me to make a positive impact on my community if I could just push through. I know how much I needed to hear that then, and I’m grateful that we can provide that to others now!
Aepios gives people like me a voice – a place to help guide those who are newly diagnosed, and to give others a better experience managing their condition.
Aside from struggling to find support, what is another major hurtle you faced regarding your condition and how could Aepios have helped?
Following my fibromyalgia and DDD diagnoses, I quickly learned that doctors in different locations had, not only different, but conflicting approaches. Every time I moved to another state for school or work, I’d be ripped off my medications by doctors who didn’t agree with my last doctor’s treatment plan despite my desire to stay on my existing plan. I became fearful of moving for fear that I’d have to start a new treatment plan all over again. Even with my background in neuroscience, I didn’t have enough data behind me to justify that they deviate from the approach they felt most comfortable with.
Aepios provides an opportunity for users to provide anonymous treatment information that can be consolidated across locations. With enough users, we will be able to see which treatments have proven most effective across a number of variables, such as age, location, and gender, to name a few.
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