Posts Tagged Pradeep Fernandes
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Biotech - Medical Device - Life Science - Healthcare on August 8, 2013
With technology advancement and ability for wider application, interesting things are happening on the boundaries of disciplines, rather than within a given discipline. Internet and Sofware technology advancement along with fresh “can do” attitude, has infused new energy into Biotech. CellWorks and BioImagene are two examples, where software stalwarts and serial entrepreneurs like Pradeep Fernandes and Mohan Uttarwar brought innovation to be applied to the healthcare industry.
At www.eppicglobal.org event on August 5, 2013, Fernandes and Uttarwar discussed what motivated them to gravitate towards life sciences, after a career in IT and software, the opportunities and challenges in making this transition, and the lessons learned in the process. They both said, their ignorance about regulatory challenges was a bliss because had they been previously aware of the regulatory hurdles, they might have doubted the whole enterprise. Both of them encountered a problem in healthcare and realized there was a hole in the market, in addressing the problem.
Fernandes’s wife got thyroid cancer and while making the rounds of the hospitals and doctors, they came to realize that despite existence of huge amount of big data and large quantities of freely available published data, few people were connecting the dots for efficient diagnosis and treatment. Serendipitous discussions with his good friend and colleague (an engineer) and his wife, a PhD in biology, led them to investigate whether modeling can be used to connect the dots and predict biological effects computationally, bridging two disciplines. R&D costs in big pharma are skyrocketing and it costs about $1to $4 B per drug, before it is available for commercial use. During the development stage, 40% of drugs fail due to lack of efficiency (that is, they simply do not work), and other 40% fail due to toxicity (bad side effects), said Fernandes. In the long chain of drug development, Fernandes focused on Biology. “If the biology is wrong, no amount of chemistry is going to make it safe or potent”, said Fernandes. The challenge is that despite technology advancement, drug development process remains unchanged and key decisions regarding validation of drugs happen very late in clinical trials. Bringing the advancement in computational algorithms and informatics, his company, CellWorks extracts information from large data sets and also predicts information through abstraction modeling and simulation. With an ability to model how pathways interact to represent disease phenotypes, CellWorks has further refined their approach to design therapies with novel mechanism of actions. Greatly reduced cost and time for drug development has enabled CellWorks to advance their lead candidates for several indications from early design stage to validated animal efficacy studies in very short time period. CellWorks closed $10M Series B round, at the end of 2012.
Origins of Mohan Uttarwar’s company BioImagene also lie in his keen notice of a problem in the market place that was not addressed. One of the close family friends had cancer and in accompanying the individual to the medical facilities, he noticed that the medical establishment used glass slides to analyze, store, and share critical information. This made it costly and challenging to share tissue samples and other information, critical for timely and effective diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. BioImagene addressed the need by creating a suite of dynamic, image-based technologies that enable image capture, information management, image analysis and virtual sharing of patients’ tissue samples from glass microscope slides. Their unique software, iScan, enabled viewing, analysis, and managing of tissue images, using a computer. Emphasizing the need to adapt and change, Uttarwar said, the pivotal moment in the history of the company was when they made the decision to go into hardware. They built a unique image viewing input device called the iSlide, and a high performance workstation called Crescendo. Together their products greatly improved workflow efficiency in image archiving and retrieval, remote viewing, and turnaround time and made them an attractive target and the company was acquired for $100M by Roche, in August, 2010.
Both Uttarwar and Fernandes credited their team and EPPIC for their success. EPPIC was started with a vision to promote networking, entrepreneurship, and mentoring for life science professionals, by a handful of people of Indian origin and has since vastly expanded. Uttarwar and Fernandes shared about how they received significant coaching and guidance from prominent EPPIC members and veterans like Nagesh Mhatre, at critical periods. Additionally, through EPPIC, they connected with Artiman Ventures and received funding as well. With such a strong community to support and energize, “if I can do it, you can do it”, said Uttarwar. Mohan Uttarwar is the guest speaker on October, 29 at www.bio2devicegroup.org event, in Sunnyvale, and will be speaking about one of his new ventures. These are free events and all are welcome.
Please note down following dates (September, 18 and October, 26) for upcoming EPPIC events and register at www.eppicglobal.org.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Biotech - Medical Device - Life Science - Healthcare on July 24, 2013
The fusion of Biology and IT is likely to continue to revolutionize and optimize healthcare. EPPIC, a premier organization started in 1998, from its inception, leveraged and blended existing Silicon Valley resource, in terms of pharmaceutical, biotech and IT professionals. In the upcoming event, EPPIC will feature two of its prominent members who benefited greatly from the networking and mentoring opportunities available through EPPIC and have achieved great success with their Bio-IT companies. EPPIC promotes networking, entrepreneurship, and mentoring for life science professionals, in additional to helping create US-India life science synergy. The two success stories that will be featured in the upcoming event, not only received guidance and mentoring, but also found the funding. They both were funded by Artiman Ventures. Artiman has been affiliated with EPPIC and has strongly supported EPPIC, from inception. Artiman Ventures invests typically in “white space” technology and are looking for technologies that integrate multiple disciplines and offer brand new revolutionary approaches to touch problems.
When Mohan Uttarwar first conceived of his idea for BioImagene, he discussed his idea with Nagesh Mhatre, one of the founders and board member at EPPIC and Partner at The Angel’s Forum, Halo Fund. Mhatre did not see merit in the idea, but Uttarwar did not quit. With constructive feedback and mentoring, Uttarwar refined and polished his idea and the rest is history – as you can see below. Similarly, Pradeep Fernandes, President and co-founder of CellWorks Group Inc. credits his success largely to the mentoring and networking opportunities he received, through EPPIC. Fernandes spent most of his career in the semiconductor and software algorithms domain and was a relative novice to the life science industry. However, valuable mentoring, along with his insightful application of his software expertise to solve life science industry challenges, led to the success he has achieved today. Go to www.eppicglobal to register for the event below.
Recently Roche forked over $100 million to acquire BioImagene, Inc., a privately held company, in the emerging field of digital pathology. What is digital pathology and why it is poised for growth? The new technologies in the realm of digital pathology enable capture, information, analysis, sharing, and storing of information, including patients’ tissue samples, with greater efficiency and lower cost. Moreover, unlike the analog age of glass slides, where pathologists frequently did the analysis and sent the information over to the physicians in charge of patient care, the pathologists today are increasingly involved in treatment decisions. New and sophisticated tools greatly enable better and more accurate diagnosis. BioImagene offered digital pathology application software iScan, a family of automated digital scanners, along with unique image viewing input device called the iSlide. Additionally, the hardware and software came with a rich menu of Companion Algorithms, to help arrive at better decisions. Mohan Uttarwar, founder and CEO of BioImagene will be speaking at EPPIC event on Monday August, 5.
Uttarwar is a serial entrepreneur, with 25+ years of experience in high-tech and bio-tech area. He was co-founder and CEO of Roamware Inc., a leading wireless roaming software company; was founder and CEO of SoftPlus, a leading provider of eCRM software for telecom carriers around the world; and had co-founded and served as CEO of Digital Tools Inc., a leader in enterprise project and resource management software. SoftPlus was acquired by US interactive for $360 million, in March, 2000. Uttarwar is now founder and CEO of OncoMDx/Core Diagnostics Lab that focuses on Cancer Diagnostics both in US and India. It does translational research to come up with Lab Developed tests for patients stratification using novel bio-markers (personalized medicine) and early detection of Cancer, with a goal to connect any patient from any part of India, for second opinion, from any expert in USA. It has been funded by Artiman Venture (who also funded BioImagene).
CellWorks Pradeep Fernandes
CellWorks Inc., founded by experts in software and semiconductors, recently received $10+million series B round at the end of 2012, with Sequoia Capital leading the round. They had closed a $7.5 million in Series A, funded by Artiman, in 2009. Pradeep Fernandes, President and Co-founder of Cellworks, spent most of his career prior to Cellworks in semiconductor world. He was VP and GM of Synthesis Solutions at Cadence Design Systems, which acquired Get2Chip in 2003 and under Fernandes’s leadership, Get2Chip became one of the most externally recognized and fastest growing product in Cadence’s product lineup. Prior to Cadence, Fernandes served on executive teams at TriQuest Design Automation and CyberX.
CellWorks is designing novel therapies, using proprietary dynamic and responsive disease models. Scientists at CellWorks mine vast repositories of known information about drugs, protein interactions and genetics to predict the outcomes in humans. Thus integrating biology and computing, the focus is to dramatically reduce spending for developing new therapies. Each year, an estimated $100B is spent worldwide, for pharmaceutical R&D. The cost for development of each new drug? A staggering $1 to $4 billion! Don’t miss the chance of to hear how CellWorks has created a pipeline of validated therapies for RA and Oncology in record time of 6 months, from computer to validations, using their proprietary platform.
The event is on Monday August, 5th from 6 to 9 pm at The Westin, San FranciscoAirport in Milbrae. Go to www.eppicglobal.org for more information and to register for the event and to sign up to become a member.