Nina Vasan, MD, MBA is a psychiatrist, entrepreneur, and pioneer in digital mental health innovation with lived experience of anxiety and depression. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford, where she is Founder and Executive Director of Brainstorm: The Stanford Lab for Mental Health Innovation, the first academic laboratory dedicated to transforming mental health at scale through tech-enabled products. Brainstorm’s experts worked with Pinterest to design the “compassionate search” experience which provides treatments for anxiety, depression, and self-harm for Pinterest's 350 million users, and reduced self-harm content by 88%. This work was named by Fast Company as the “Most Innovative Wellness Projects” and “Best Designs for Social Good” for 2020.
At Stanford, Dr. Vasan created and teaches “Designing for the 2 Billion: Leading Innovation in Mental Healthcare”, the first US university course on mental health innovation, and “Mental Health Innovation Studio: Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Policy”. This led to her current role, Chief Medical Officer of Real, a new startup founded by her former Stanford student and launched during Covid-19, providing a digital suite of mental health services for less than $1/day.
She is an active leader in the American Psychiatric Association, where she is Chair of the APA Committee on Innovation, leading the organization’s national innovation agenda, Co-Head of the new Caucus on Psychiatric Leadership and Entrepreneurship, and Founder of the APA Psychiatry Innovation Lab, an annual digital health incubator program that has nurtured 60+ seed and early-stage technology companies. Her policy experience includes serving on the Health Policy Advisory Committee for both the Obama 2008 and Biden 2020 Presidential campaigns, being an expert advisor for the United Nations on inclusive social policies for mental health, and working in the Office of Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan at the World Health Organization. Her business experience includes management consulting at McKinsey & Company in Silicon Valley advising healthcare payers and providers and co-founding a startup for helping women struggling with opioid and alcohol addiction, as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the venture capital firm Venrock. She co-authored the #1 Amazon Best Selling book "Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation", praised by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus as "the primer for social innovation", and published in the US and China. She has also appeared in media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Politico, Forbes, and Vogue as well as podcasts like Armchair Expert and GOOP with Gywneth Paltrow.
Dr. Vasan is from West Virginia; growing up she was an active civic entrepreneur (founded and served as National President of ACS Teens, a nationwide network of teen volunteers for the American Cancer Society), public health activist (directed campaign to prevent the loss of WV’s $1.9 Billion Master Tobacco Settlement funds), and scientist (won the $50K top Grand Prize at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair and presented her research during the Nobel Prize Festivities). A former Olympic Torchbearer and West Virginia's Junior Miss, she was named one of "America's top 10 youth volunteers" by Prudential as well as a National Gold Award Young Women of Distinction, the highest honor in Girl Scouting. She majored in Government at Harvard, graduating as one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women, and received an MD from Harvard Medical School, where she was voted by classmates as a commencement speaker. Dr. Vasan graduated from Stanford's Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, where she was a Chief Resident, and received an MBA from Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Connect with her @NinaVasan on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Artificial Intelligence
- Consumer Products
Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Chair, Committee on Innovation, American Psychiatric Association (2019 - Present)
Advisory Board Member, HackMentalHealth (2018 - Present)
National Leadership Council, Society for Science and the Public (2017 - Present)
Founder and Chair, Psychiatry Innovation Lab, American Psychiatric Association (2015 - Present)
Committee on Mental Heath Information Technology, American Psychiatric Association (2017 - 2019)
Presidential Board of Trustees Workgroup on Access & Innovation in Psychiatric Care, American Psychiatric Association (2017 - 2018)
Joint Reference Committee, American Psychiatric Association (2016 - 2017)
Council on Quality Care, American Psychiatric Association (2015 - 2017)
National Advisory Board, Cogito.org (2005 - 2015)
Health Policy Advisory Committee, Co-Leader of Battleground State Outreach, Obama for America (2008 - 2009)
Committee on Publications of the Massachusetts Medical Society, The New England Journal of Medicine (2008 - 2009)
Board Certification: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Psychiatry (2018)
Residency: Stanford University Adult Psychiatry Residency (2018) CA
Medical Education: Harvard Medical School (2013) MA
Board Certification, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Psychiatry (2018)
MBA, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Business (2018)
MD, Harvard Medical School, Medicine (2013)
AB, Harvard College, Government (2006)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Mental illness is the greatest thief of human potential today. By harnessing the power of medicine, entrepreneurship, and technology, we can return that potential to the 2 billion people suffering around the world.
Brainstorm is the world's first academic laboratory dedicated to transforming mental health through innovation and entrepreneurship.
Building "Compassionate Search" with Pinterest
San Francisco, CA
Independent Studies (1)
- Teaching in Psychiatry
PSYC 290 (Win)
- Teaching in Psychiatry
Prior Year Courses
- Do Good Well: Your Guide to Leadership, Action, and Social Innovation null Wiley/Jossey-Bass. 2013; null (null)