Harvard Macy Community Blog

Fostering the ongoing connectedness of health professions educators committed to transforming health care delivery and education.

Shiv Gaglani & Ryan Haynes

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Shiv Gaglani: After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard College in 2010 with degrees in engineering and health policy, Shiv Gaglani began his MD/MBA degree at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard Business School. Shivs primary passion is developing innovative and scalable solutions in the fields of healthcare and education. In his free time Shiv enjoys running, cycling, chess, scuba diving, playing with his dogs, and flying.



Ryan Haynes, PhD has been developing educational software for the past 15 years. He graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Tech (2006) with a degree in biomedical engineering and then completed his Masters in Nanotechnology Enterprise and Ph.D. in Neuroscience (NIH Oxford-Cambridge GPP Program) at the University of Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar giving him both a solid first hand experience in STEM education and also an appreciation for the neuroscience behind learning. He has written online textbooks on linear algebra and computer science, as well as led the development of an open source 3D anatomy viewer (osmosis.org/anatomy). 

Making Learning Stick – an interview with the founders of the revolutionary learning platform Osmosis.org

HMI: What led you to start Osmosis?

Shiv and Ryan: We met at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as anatomy team-based learning partners. A week after anatomy ended, we were quizzing each other on material that we had known extremely well just a few weeks earlier and were shocked to realize that we had already forgotten much of it.

That did not bode well for the next four years of med school followed by 3-7 years of residency, not to mention a lifetime of practice. We found that our classmates had similar issues with retention. Compounding this problem was that we had an overwhelming number of resources – books, question banks, videos, reference articles, etc. – that were not being organized or presented to us in an easily digestible or optimal way.

Given that both of us had backgrounds in neuroscience and engineering, we did a literature review and found proven cognitive techniques such as spaced repetition and test-enhanced learning that were implemented only in isolation in medical school curricula, if at all.  We decided to start building a tool that would essentially help a student “manage medical school.” The idea was to create a virtual tutor that knew exactly what we were learning, could recommended high-yield resources, and would quiz us periodically to ensure we were staying up-to-date. Within a few weeks of releasing this tool – Osmosis - to our classmates at Johns Hopkins we started hearing from friends of friends at Tufts, Northwestern, Columbia, and a few other medical schools who wanted to use it. We decided to keep developing it and almost three years later we now have 35,000 medical students and 16 schools using it to improve the way they learn and teach, respectively.


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