Education & Family

By Osmosis

An online study platform makes medical school easier.

When Shiv Gaglani and Ryan Haynes met in anatomy class as medical students at Johns Hopkins University, they found that they had similar issues with the difficulty of their curriculum. “We realized that we were forgetting things almost as quickly as we were learning them,” Gaglani says. He and Haynes wanted to “learn and retain information more effectively,” so in 2012 they developed Osmosis, a digital health education study tool to help fellow medical students stay up-to-date with an ever-growing bank of information.

Now a global resource, the Brewers Hill-based web company has a catalog of more than 1,200 videos on topics ranging from vitamin B12 deficiency to tuberculosis, as well as features that allow users to create their own flashcards and interact with others on the platform. While other online study tools, such as Quizlet and Blackboard, are geared toward general learning, Osmosis is made specifically for learning medical information. Many of the videos are available on Osmosis’ YouTube channel, which has more than one million subscribers. The animated videos often include anthropomorphized organs and easy-to-follow graphics that help viewers understand complicated medical subjects.

Many of the Osmosis social media posts feature celebrities and information about their various medical conditions. “We all know a lot about Serena Williams and her sister Venus,” Gaglani says. “Adding the fact that Serena once had a pulmonary embolism or Venus has Sjogren’s syndrome, which are things that people need to learn about in health professions, is a good way to anchor that information.”

For University of Maryland, Baltimore medical student Jennifer Woodard, medical school proved initially difficult, as well. She had to repeat her first year, but once she began using Osmosis, she began to see improvement. “It really reframed the way I approached studying,” says Woodard, now a fourth-year student applying to internal medicine.

While the Osmosis team is spread across six continents, they’ve kept their O’Donnell Street headquarters, where visitors might find cartoon kidney magnets or ping-pong paddles strewn about. Gaglani works there alongside creative director Tanner Marshall, pictured, whose influence on Osmosis’ videos is so great that the font in the videos is nicknamed “Tanner script.” There’s no question that Osmosis is on the rise the platform gained 1.5 million viewers in 2018 and raised $4 million in a June investment round but the company’s goal remains simple. “What we want to do is create a more caring world,” Gaglani says, “by developing the most caring humans.”