Dr Wareed Alenaini

Dr Wareed Alenaini

Wareed was born and raised in a small town in Saudi Arabia called Yanbu. Growing up in a big family, she saw people she loved suffering from a plethora of chronic conditions and heard them complaining about the medication they had to take. She eventually lost members of her family including her grandmother because of the consequences of chronic conditions. It always bothered her that many of these conditions were preventable if caught early enough. This sparked a fire within her, but she was unsure what direction it would take her.

She began her studies at home in Saudi Arabia with an undergraduate degree in diagnostics. Wareed started to gain experience working in this field in hospitals, but everything changed when she was offered a scholarship to complete her postgraduate studies abroad. After scouring the top universities in this area, she discovered Imperial. Wareed enrolled in MRes Bioimaging Sciences and started to carry out her research. What happened next wasn’t part of the plan but could completely transform healthcare, extend lives and fight disease.

AI and disease detection

Wareed was interested in the use of non-invasive technologies in the early detection of diseases, which then enables the prevention of diseases and the preservation of and organs to extend healthy lifespan. But she never planned to turn this into a business idea. She thought about how she could develop her knowledge and perhaps take on a role that would allow her to influence policy and shape healthcare.

The concept of using advanced technologies such as MRI for diagnostic and prevention has been around for a long time. “The problem was in its accessibility to a wide range of the population, which is linked to the high cost associated with the high labour calibre for completing these tasks.” Wareed explains.

To address this issue, Wareed founded the company Twinn Health which focuses on extending healthy lifespan by up to 15 years by early diseases detection using MRI scanning and AI. Imperial College London played a significant role in the launch of the business and provided the support she needed to get started. This included legal advice and support with securing funding.

I have led the development of the company's groundbreaking AI platform for early disease detection, from initial research at Imperial to commercial launch. I oversaw fundraising, built partnerships with leading healthcare organisations, and managed a team to validate the technology through clinical studies. My entrepreneurial leadership and scientific expertise in MRI analysis have been instrumental in making Twinn Health a pioneering healthtech startup.

Twinn Health’s success so far has been down to team work and while Wareed was good at working out the right pieces and the right times, with every step forward she says a huge amount of credit goes to the team working behind the scene.

Dr Wareed Alenaini

Personalised medicine

Twinn Health was based on research Wareed carried out while studying bioimaging sciences at Imperial. The AI platform automates validated imaging biomarkers to improve both diagnosis and treatment decisions, starting with metabolic diseases. Wareed’s biotechnology has three benefits – it increases the accuracy of metabolic assessment, reduces variations between individual physicians, improves clinical management decision-making and saves healthcare providers costs from late diagnosis.

The technology is designed to screen for potentially dangerous hidden fatty deposits around the organs, as well as visceral fat and inflammation. It can also provide a full health check to assess the brain, organs and bones to provide a comprehensive and personalised profile of your body and flag if something is going wrong and point to exactly where.

The ability to spot these early signs of conditions which extends to sarcopenia can slow down the onset of aging frailty and ultimately improve the quality of life of the older population.

Twinn Health detects multiple abnormal radiologic findings with over 94% accuracy.

 The journey to success

Wareed and her team have already won awards including the competitive UK Tech Nation Global Talent AI and Biotechnology Award, UK Pitch Regional Competion in London 2023 and Twinn Health was named the Digital Startup of the Year in the sixth GCC conference.

But for Wareed it’s not about the awards or recognitions, it’s about delivering the next milestone for stakeholders, and ultimately impacting people’s lives. Keeping up momentum has been key to her company’s success – even in hard times she’s continued to work relentlessly to navigate the complex healthcare sector. Wareed and her team are currently preparing for a pre-Series A round to continue product development and expansion.

So far, she’s successfully secured $800,000 in pre-seed funding from top tier early-stage investors including 500 Global, angel physicians, venture capital and non-dilutive funding grants including from Plug and Play San Francisco. She is also completing an FDA submission for the first AI model of detecting metabolic conditions five years earlier than traditional tests. Wareed also secured data partnerships with Biomedical institutions such as the UK Biobank.

Dr Wareed Alenaini

Building the business

Since incorporating in 2021, Wareed’s business has seen ups and downs but she found the route to success in building the right team around her, helping the business emerge stronger and making it more attractive to talent. She has hired employees from more than five nationalities and maintained 50% diversity in the team and expanded into three countries so far, as well as successfully securing the company patent in using AI for disease prevention.

When I started the company, it took us over ten months to get the first funding. During this period, I carried out creative experiments in a lean way to prove the need for our product. I managed to build a minimum viable product (MVP) that can mimic the AI outcome and potential, aka the dream solution, using very basic no code tool called bubble in 2020 (when AI tools were not as popular as now) and took this to clinics around London.

 “I actually did what my mentors later on called ‘cold-walk-in’ where I shortlisted private clinics in central London within 50 minutes from my home (I still have the Google map list in my phone which I kept to always remember how did this all started) and started knocking on them door by door with my on-screen MVP and a simple ask: would you pay to include this service in your practice? In the first week, I had a 33% conversion rate including green lights from top healthcare providers for preventative healthcare. That gave us the confidence that we had something worth raising money to build."

Successfully raising a pre-seed round in biotech as first-time Arab female founder made Wareed’s story an inspiration to others. Recently she helped deliver a roadshow for UK university students as a successful role model speaking about how to build a career and inspiring the younger generation to pursue STEM subjects and careers. This includes talks at King’s College London and Oxford University. She’s invited to speak at multiple national and international conferences including delivering the keynote speech at the deep tech category at Web Summit Lisbon 2023, one of the largest tech conferences in the world.  

Identify your strengths

If you ask Wareed what makes a good entrepreneur, she says, “What’s important is identifying your strengths to capitalise on them, and your weakness to seek help complementing them. This helps you not only in building a company or a team but also in life. My business partner is very different to me in many ways that are complementary. For example he’s very introverted whereas I am an extrovert. So I do most of the people work, while he focuses on the systems work”

Her advice to others wanting to start their own ventures is simple: don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but only make them once. “You learn the most important lessons from making mistakes and iterating for next version of you or your product.”

Make mistakes, but don’t make the same mistake twice.

Wareed also has a secret sauce to share with people: not to quit. “There are a few times when you might feel like the product is almost failing but the key is not to quit until all possibilities are fulfilled. I remember attending a lecture as part of Fundraising Fundamental Course I completed with 500 Global, and a VC partner who was giving the lecture was saying that every business must seem like it almost dying at some point.”

Dr Wareed Alenaini walking across Dalby Court at Imperial's South Kensington Campus
Dr Wareed Alenaini
Dr Wareed Alenaini

Acting as a mentor

Wareed is quickly becoming a role model for the next generation of females in STEM. “Growing up, my mum was my main role model. She raised seven children while working a full-time job as a high school principal for 20 years. It wasn’t easy for her, but she managed to do it successfully”

In her spare time, Wareed mentors female Arabic CEOs from underrepresented backgrounds through the United Nations programme for Women Innovators, helping them to get their businesses off the ground. She is also a frequent runner and is learning the German language.  

Women have a unique set of characteristics and high emotional intelligence which makes them a great fit for intellectual challenges.

 Wareed says she’d tell her younger self, “Don’t doubt yourself so much. Put in the hard work and things will manifest. Also, always believe that you can achieve great things, even if you are not born with that likelihood.

A part of Imperial 

Wareed describes her studies at Imperial as “extremely challenging but rewarding in even more extreme ways”. She says, “I joined Imperial and it was the first Western country I ever visited. Joining Imperial as a foreign student with English not your first language and being exposed to the advanced level of science and technology that was taught at Imperial was not an easy task. However, I had significant support from my course leaders and course mates. I met my best friend in London at Imperial ‘Sara’ who was my course mate and now a senior consultant in a pharmaceutical data company. Imperial will never stop being a part of our lives.”

To hear I had won this award from Imperial was incredible. It’s made me feel like I’m doing something that is valued by others including this very distinguished institution. It also a strong reminder that no matter how far you come from, with hard work, you will always have a place at the very top table.

Follow Wareed's story:

Dr Wareed Alenaini

Imperial's Alumni Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of our alumni community and the variety of ways they are making a real impact across the globe.

The Emerging Alumni Leader Award celebrates our rising stars, innovators, game-changers and future leaders.