Our Serendipity: The story of how science, technology, and friendship built an
app to help those with Autoimmune Diseases
My two main goals in life were always to learn as much as I can and to help people. I never
could have imagined that these two goals would lead me to create an app.
My first goal was straightforward: I graduated with my Ph.D. in Exercise and Nutritional Science
from Arizona State University this spring. While earning my degree I researched meditation
apps and how they can benefit the mental and physical health of users. I must admit that I was
impressed by what I learned through this research. For one, the ability to provide high-quality
meditation through an app didn’t seem entirely possible, until our studies found that it was. It
also didn’t seem like meditating for just a few minutes a day could have such a positive impact
on people until study results proved otherwise. Still, with this newfound knowledge, I wasn’t
sure how I was going to accomplish my second goal of helping people.
After graduating, I caught up with my friend and learned she was recently diagnosed with
another autoimmune disease. At that time, she had lived with Crohn’s Disease for almost 20
years but just found out after years of ups and downs that she also had Lupus. While both
diseases impact her life on a daily basis, she was not one to let them define her or stop them
from living her life to the fullest. Like me, she also has a Ph.D. in Exercise and Nutritional
Science as well as an MBA. As we chatted, we decided we could use our academic and
professional knowledge, in combination with her personal experiences as a patient, to help
others living with autoimmune diseases. Our goal was to help others see that despite a tough
diagnosis, there were still many aspects of life that they could control, such as mindset, diet,
and, to an extent, movement, and that taking control of those could be incredibly empowering.
That is when the Our Serendipity App was born. As the name would suggest, this app is about
people coming together to the same place and at the right time to help each other. By bringing
the autoimmune disease community together and providing positive resources in a non-clinical
way, we believe that we can help improve the daily lives of people living with these illnesses. To
accomplish this, we wanted an all-encompassing app that focuses equally on the mind, body,
One of the toughest things about an autoimmune disease diagnosis is knowing that there is no
cure. Add to that the “invisible” nature of these diseases, meaning you often don’t look sick,
and you end up with high rates of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. With this in mind, we
designed the app to be a source of positivity with the resources to help users on their journey
to having a strong mindset. Every morning, each user receives a positive affirmation message to
start their day with encouragement. There are also a series of meditations and breathing
exercises designed to help users meet the challenges of each day. There are meditations for
anxiety, courage, and relaxation (just to name a few), so no matter if you’re in a hospital waiting room or unwinding after an exhausting day, there will be meditation to help support
Another very common complication that arises in this population is mobility limitations. While
this may deter people from moving, research actually encourages those with autoimmune
diseases to be active within their abilities. On the app, users can begin and end their day with
gentle movement videos, some of which can be done in bed. These safe movement videos
empower users to be able to do a little something for themselves, even on the tough days, that
can make a big impact.
Dietary restrictions, whether it be because of allergies, medication interactions, or research
that may suggest a specific diet for their condition, are extremely common. Gluten-free, vegan,
low FODMAP, and Specific Carbohydrate Diet, among others, are often cited as good options
for people living with autoimmune diseases. While diet absolutely plays a role in overall health,
we believe there is no one size fits all approach. Thus, the app offers a variety of different easy-
to-follow recipes that adhere to different dietary needs of the community. We also partnered
with Gluten Free & More, a magazine that publishes gluten-free recipes, to share some of their
recipes with app users.
While it is essential to address the mind and body of the individual, allowing people to not feel
as though they are going through this alone is one of the most powerful tools, which is why the
community aspect of the app was of the highest priority. Through the forums feature of the
app, users will be able to discuss topics such as traveling and parenting with autoimmune
diseases or share stories and advice.
When considering community, the final piece was connecting users to companies that make
products and services specifically designed for them. These products and services are often
difficult to find for consumers and for the companies to reach their target market, so we
wanted to bring them together in one place. Users will be able to find foods, assistive devices,
services and so much more to help make their daily lives easier.
We are so excited to share this app with you and hope that it can serve as a source of positivity
and hope for this, unfortunately, rapidly growing community. While we know that thinking
positively and having resources will never cure anyone, we can help to make each day a little bit
better for people who use the app. The Our Serendipity app is available now for you to start
taking control of your own wellness or as a gift for loved ones living with autoimmune diseases!
Want to learn more? Connect with us here!