BehaVR Partners to Advance Virtual Reality for Social Anxiety Disorder

New collaboration with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. brings together experts in psychiatry, neuroscience, behavioral health, and virtual reality to address unmet needs in those who struggle with social anxiety

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--()--BehaVR, a leading innovator of virtual reality digital wellness and digital therapeutics experiences, today announced that it has begun a new partnership aimed at leveraging virtual reality experiences to address critical unmet needs in social anxiety disorder (SAD), an underreported and undertreated mental health condition. The company has entered into a new joint development and collaboration agreement with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. to create a general wellness product that uses virtual reality (VR) to assist in the management of SAD. BehaVR will partner with Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc., an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, in developing the product for use in the United States.

“Decades of research have shown that VR is a powerful way to augment traditional cognitive behavioral therapies — including exposure, arousal reduction, active coping, and emotion regulation — which are often used to treat SAD,” said Dr. Peter Buecker, Chief Medical Officer of BehaVR. “BehaVR’s technology platform expands on VR’s capability, using real-time biometrics and machine learning to personalize the experience. We believe this offers new possibilities in addressing SAD, and we are excited to explore these possibilities and ultimately bring to market a product that has the potential to change the lives of millions.”

According to the Social Anxiety Association, social anxiety disorder is the third largest mental health condition in the world today, estimated to affect as much as 7 percent of the population – more than 17 million people in the U.S. alone. An intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others, social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is often characterized by rapid heart rate, trembling, sweating, feeling nauseous and having difficulty speaking or being around other people.

“Virtual reality has the potential to make good care and management for social anxiety disorder more accessible to people around the world,” said Aaron Gani, founder and CEO of BehaVR. “Many with SAD do not receive any support in managing their condition because there is a shortage of behavioral health professionals where they live, they cannot afford it, or their previous attempts at treatment haven’t worked.”

Grounded in neuroscience and behavioral health research, the product BehaVR and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma are creating will use VR to target the chronic activation source of stress or anxiety and provide personalized education content, active coping skills training, and behavioral reinforcements inside a dynamic experience. It will provide clinician visibility into patient progress, integration with other clinical systems, such as EMRs, and telehealth platforms.

“This is a truly exciting time,” said Walter Greenleaf, Ph.D., of Stanford University and Chair of BehaVR's Scientific Advisory Board. “With the convergence of technologies today, we are now able to make accurate and objective assessments of an individual's mood state and cognitive function, instead of relying on inaccurate, subjective self-reported measurements. This approach allows us to develop new and powerful therapies that will provide effective solutions for any number of behavioral and mental health issues.”

BehaVR expects the product will come to market in the US in 2022.

About BehaVR

BehaVR is advancing healthcare access and delivery and improving patient outcomes and experiences through the pioneering use of virtual reality (VR), cloud computing, and machine learning. Founded by leading clinicians, healthcare veterans and technology innovators, BehaVR has a proprietary technology platform that enables a personalized and progressive treatment approach that is grounded in decades of neuroscience research and designed to educate, motivate, and activate individuals to make long-term, sustained improvements to their health. For more information, visit

About Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd.

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. is actively engaged in research and development of new drugs to live up to its corporate mission, "To broadly contribute to society through value creation based on innovative research and development activities for the betterment of healthcare and fuller lives of people worldwide."

In business fields other than pharmaceuticals, too, we are working to provide new values that will contribute to “wide-ranging well- being.” With a focus on preventive medical care and patient care, as well as treatment of diseases, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma aims to launch new businesses in these fields by building a platform that is geared chiefly toward areas in which we can create synergies with our own pharmaceutical business.


About Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Sunovion is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the innovative application of science and medicine to help people with serious medical conditions. Sunovion’s vision is to lead the way to a healthier world. The company’s spirit of innovation is driven by the conviction that scientific excellence paired with meaningful advocacy and relevant education can improve lives. With patients at the center of everything it does, Sunovion has charted new paths to life-transforming treatments that reflect ongoing investments in research and development and an unwavering commitment to support people with psychiatric, neurological and respiratory conditions.

Headquartered in Marlborough, Mass., Sunovion is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd. Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Europe Ltd., based in London, England, and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., based in Mississauga, Ontario, are wholly-owned direct subsidiaries of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. Additional information can be found on the company’s web sites:,, and Connect with Sunovion on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.


Kerri Guyton
615 610 0322

Release Summary

BehaVR has launched a new partnership aimed at leveraging virtual reality experiences to address critical unmet needs in social anxiety disorder (SAD)


Kerri Guyton
615 610 0322