Megan Leinenbach struggled with chronic bacterial vaginosis (BV) for years. As a college student, she felt uncomfortable talking to roommates and friends about her recurring infections. She found that campus healthcare was quick to prescribe antifungals and antibiotics but ill-equipped to address the root cause of her persistent bouts of BV.
A junior with a concentration in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Leinenbach has focused her research on computational modeling of the vaginal microbiome. Her studies have allowed her to shadow women's health practitioners, where she discovered a few critical determinants of her own chronic health issues.
- Recurring vaginal health issues are not just a "Megan problem". BV and yeast infections are the number one reason women visit their gynecological healthcare providers.
- Providers spend between ten to fifteen minutes with each patient, allowing just enough time to diagnose problems and prescribe the standard meds, but zero time for discussing preventative and proactive measures to address recurrence.
- There is no one-size-fits-all solution for what women should or shouldn't do for optimal vaginal health.
- Finding a community of women going through the same issues is a great resource for both information and support.
Leinenbach decided she needed to create something to break the cycle of recurring vaginal infections and arm women with the tools and resources they need to take control of their vaginal health. And so, PrendeHealth was born.
PrendeHealth is a women's healthcare platform that gives users access to specialized healthcare providers and connects them to a personal health coach. In addition, users will receive the tools needed to monitor their vaginal health through holistic tracking combining nutrition, overall health, and lifestyle. Women will receive individualized reports that outline risk factors and guide women to take proactive measures to reach future healthcare goals. PrendeHealth's welcome kit even includes vaginal pH strips that can help monitor a user's vaginal health daily.
As a researcher, Leinenbach is also hoping the data collected through this technology will help to address women's health at a population level and ultimately inform research that can aid in eradicating recurring BV and other chronic women's health issues.
Leinenbach didn't consider herself an entrepreneur until she took EGR 488: Designing Ventures to Change the World last fall. "John Danner's course was an incredible experience. He is an incredible person. He taught me the fundamentals of entrepreneurship which was essential for me coming from a science background," said Leinenbach. Danner also gave her critical feedback and connected her to a network of people that have been integral to her venture creation journey.
Building her startup on campus, Leinenbach found the resources and mentorship needed to develop and implement her innovation as a student entrepreneur. PrendeHealth will launch at the end of May.
Leinenback will be working on PrendeHealth full-time this summer to improve, grow and expand product offerings and employ features that women want and need. She is also planning on broadening her partnerships with women's health providers and organizations passionate about women's health. She invites anyone interested in innovating women's healthcare to join the PrendeHealth community.
Recently PrendeHealth took first place at UPitch NJ, an innovative statewide collegiate business model competition showcasing the top young talent from thirteen New Jersey Universities.