Blooming from the STEM: Pursuing new possibilities

Andrew Jin (‘15) applies problem-solving skills everyday at his healthcare startup


Provided by Andrew Jin, illustration by Michelle Liu

Andrew Jin (‘15) began startup Dorsal Health with high school friend Shashwat Kishore to create new solutions for musculoskeletal and chronic pain conditions in order to treat those afflicted by chronic pain quickly and effectively.

by Margaret Cartee and Sabrina Zhu

Around 1/5 of adults have suffered from chronic pain in their life. The total costs of chronic pain treatment in adults from 2010 is estimated to be upwards of $560 billion.

The current way we receive healthcare in America has been flawed for decades, from the lack of insured Americans to exorbitantly high prices, but Andrew Jin (‘15) has been working on a startup to create new solutions for musculoskeletal and chronic pain conditions and to treat those afflicted by chronic pain quickly and effectively.

After graduating from Harker in 2015, Jin pursued computer science at Harvard University, but he first began his STEM journey at Harker’s middle school, taking up an interest in programming after joining Harker in seventh grade. At the upper school, he took more courses and extracurriculars to further explore science.

“In high school, [I was] able to take the Advanced Placement Computer Science class in freshman year alongside many of my friends, and I think that really kicked off my personal STEM  journey, where I just got super interested in and passionate about computer science and really was excited by the potential and all the different ways I could just apply it to solve interesting problems,” Jin said.

Jin then continued to learn about computer science throughout high school by attending Harker’s Annual Research Symposium, where students can showcase their projects and listen to the other student presentations and Stanford lectures. He also conducted research related to machine learning and biology, including cancer and genetics, and took different science classes. Jin notes that Harker’s network of formative mentors helped instill in him a unique sense of innovation and motivation to further advance in STEM.

“There were just a ton of different amazing support systems, and just kind of a ton of awesome role models who sort of paved the way for us,” Jin said. “As freshmen, we were able to go to the research symposiums and listen to the topics of the juniors and the seniors. Harker really invests a lot of resources into doing those support systems, having the right teachers in place to really allow students to thrive and pursue their passions.”

After spending a couple of years at Facebook working on search ranking and core growth, Jin decided “to scratch [his] entrepreneurial itch” and to make a bigger impact on the world, especially in the healthcare industry. His childhood in Silicon Valley inspired him to create change through a startup company. Deciding to take a risk, Jin, with the help of one of his friends, Shashwat Kishore, then started his own company, Dorsal Health, which aims to provide cheaper and more efficient care for people with musculoskeletal and chronic pain conditions. 

“Many of us, who grew up in the Bay Area, [are] surrounded by technology, startups and innovation, so that was another piece that was always quite fascinating and exciting to me,” Jin said. “I ended up wanting to go from research and academia into doing something more tangible, where I could actually see my work and translate into the real world and sort of affect real people in a shorter time span.”

Like any other startup, the team at Dorsal Health constantly faces challenges. As the co-founder of Dorsal Health, Kishore has known Jin since high school and attended Harvard with him. They first met at science research events and later found out they had similar interests in healthcare and technology, which led them to found Dorsal Health together.

“There are lots of problems that we need to solve every day,” Kishore said. “Building startups is a hard thing to do, and Andrew has this way of thinking about things and how he breaks things down into atomic pieces, which I think is super interesting to see and works extremely well.”

His sister, Amy Jin, also notes his natural inclination towards problem-solving and his analytical mindset. According to his sister, he always tries to “pinpoint” the core of the issue, and he understands that overcoming those difficulties is innate in his goal to try something nobody else has done before.

“He’s always been drawn to challenging problems in various fields and thinking how he can apply those skill sets to make a difference and tackle them from a unique standpoint,” [Amy] Jin said. “Another thing I really admire about him is his ability to execute on a grand vision … but also, he’s not afraid to dare to go after those grand visions and dare to dream big and to take a leap of faith.”

Jin applied his entrepreneurial spirit to his work at Dorsal Health in order to make healthcare more accessible to the average person through what modern consumers know best: the internet. He credits his problem-solving skills to the experiences he had as a young researcher in high school and college.

“Research was definitely extremely helpful to just teach me those skill sets on how to be an independent thinker, how to learn on the fly, and how to quickly pick up a new discipline or a new kind of problem area,” Jin said. “If you try enough solutions and try enough angles, you will be able to figure it out. You just have to persevere. [There is] nothing that isn’t solvable with the right mentality.”

Additional reporting by Sally Zhu.