Balancer seeks to solve the problems created by the trial-and-error decision-making process that psychiatrists/medication prescribers and patients go through when choosing medications for bipolar disorder.

If you're interested in getting involved, email or go to and introduce yourself in the #balancer channel. Kat Jost (@itskatnotcat) and Tai Chan (@tai) are the project co-leads.

Project Overview

The mission of the Balancer project is to shorten the journey for patients with bipolar disorder to find stability on medication.

Our vision is to create digital tools that: 1. Support prescribers in choosing the most suitable medication and to support patients. 2. Support patients in their journey to medication stability, enabling them to be more informed and therefore more involved in the medication decision making.

According to the International Bipolar Foundation’s research on finding the right medication: “Our volunteer responses ranged from 2-10 years and 3-30 different med combinations before finding the right one.” Personally, it took project founder Kat Jost, who has Bipolar I with Psychotic Features, 11 years to find the right medication combination and reach a point of true stability and mental well-being. There are many factors involved in why this takes so long, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Treating bipolar disorder is currently a trial-and-error process, which can take a long time and be painful for people brave enough to seek treatment for the first time. Bipolar disorder (of which there are several variations) is one of the hardest mental health disorders to diagnose, and landing the right diagnosis is key to choosing the most suitable medication(s).
  • Psychiatrists face challenges in selecting the most suitable bipolar medication for first-time patients due to the complex range of medication options, varying patient characteristics, and the need to balance benefits and risks.
  • Patients often fall out of what is called “medication adherence,” meaning they may skip doses due to unwanted side effects, forgetfulness, denial, lack of faith in the medication’s effectiveness, or unstable environment (e.g. in and out jail or living in a dorm and unable to sneak away from view at the same times every day); or they may stop taking their medication altogether when they start feeling better, which leads to relapse and starting over with the medication process.

Join this interesting and impactful AI-centered Code for Philly project today to practice/learn engineering, product, UX, project management, or other kinds of skills. Volunteers of all kinds welcome - no technical background required.

Project Activity

Update #3

Exciting news: We have built and hosted a functional website (for medical personnel only, not open to the public) that allows psychiatrists and other medication prescribers to select patient characteristics on a form and submit the form to get a list of recommended medications. We are now focused on fine-tuning the form results by training our own AI model on medical journal articles centered around treatment for bipolar disorder.

Help wanted:

  • Prescribers who treat patients with bipolar who are willing to consult with us / test our product
  • Front end / back end / full stack developers
  • UX specialists, specifically designers and researchers

If you're interested in getting involved, please join the #balancer channel on Slack and introduce yourself or email

Update #2

We have done several UX interviews with bipolar medication prescribers at UPenn, built the application front end, and are getting closer to an alpha testing phase. We are now working on perfecting the list of medications that get suggested when a prescriber selects various combinations of patient characteristics.

Help Needed

  • Early-career prescribers, such as psychiatry residents, to test the application and validate our system's medication recommendations
  • Non-technical volunteers to help with things like non-UX research and newsletter creation
  • Donations for things such as help desk software, UX research interview transcription software, and marketing expenses:

Please email or join the #balancer channel in the Code for Philly Slack if you know of any way to help!

Update #1

We have found a Technical Lead for the project and are actively recruiting other volunteers, such as:

Technical folks

  • Data scientists
  • AI/ML, full-stack, and backend developers
  • UX researchers and designers

Non-technical folks

  • Researchers (no specific skills required) to gather bipolar-related content from the internet, such as clinical trial reports, to feed the AI
  • Psychiatrists/Medication Prescribers to be Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and help us get this thing right!
  • Anyone interested in mental health who thinks they could help

Please email or join the #medassist channel in the Code for Philly Slack to get involved.