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Exclusive: BrainCheck scores $15M for rapid cognitive tests

Illustration of a pencil and pencil shavings in the shape of a brain

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

BrainCheck, a cognitive health assessment company founded by Stanford neuroscience professor David Eagleman, scored a $15 million Series B extension, CEO Kim Rodriguez tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The company's tests address a pressing need as the risk of Alzheimer's disease grows.

How it works: The Austin-based company sells its cognitive assessments and corresponding care plans to health care systems and payers on a subscription basis.

  • A BrainCheck-sponsored clinical trial published in 2019 in the journal JMIR Brain suggested the company offered a sensitive and specific metric to assess age-related cognitive impairment in older adults.

Context: Mild cognitive impairment is often the first condition to appear before a dementia or Alzheimer's diagnosis. Patients with those symptoms can appear at a wide variety of locations says Rodriguez, from primary care and geriatrics to the ER.

  • But few providers in the locations have the necessary tools to properly and timely make a diagnosis, she adds.

By the numbers: Alzheimer's is projected to cost the U.S. $321 billion this year, including $206 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments, per the Alzheimer's Association.

  • An estimated 6 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's and an estimated 11 million more are providing unpaid care for the condition.
  • Of 8 million expected cases of mild cognitive impairment, 7.4 million (92%) remained undiagnosed, per a 2023 study published in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

The Series B extension was led by Next Coast Ventures, S3 Ventures and UPMC Enterprises.

  • Funds will power commercialization, clinical research and additional integrations with health care systems via their electronic health record (EHR).
  • UPMC Enterprises vice president Nicholas Shapiro will join BrainCheck's board.
  • Rodriguez anticipates BrainCheck raising again in late 2025.

What's next: BrainCheck's next challenge is securing broad adoption as the definitive standard cognitive assessment tool, UPMC's Shapiro says.

State of play: Mental health providers and device makers have attracted significant venture backing in recent years, but fewer companies focused on cognitive assessments like BrainCheck have pulled in notable funding.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note the fundraise was a Series B extension, not just Series B.

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