Dr. Anita Goel
Founder and CEO
What Google did for the information industry and wireless technology did for the telecommunications industry, Dr. Anita Goel, MD, PhD, and CEO of Nanobiosym Diagnostics, Inc., a world-renowned nanotechnology expert and visionary pioneer in the emerging field of nanobiophysics, wants to do for the current healthcare system—one she believes hampers access to care for more than 4 billion people around the globe in developing countries and rural, remote areas in industrialized countries including the U.S. In fact, Dr. Goel notes, nearly all of the 8 billion people on the planet will benefit from a more decentralized and mobilized healthcare delivery system. Have no doubt: In spite of the logistical, institutional, and bureaucratic challenges to carrying her mission through, it will happen.
Dr. Goel is, in a sense, entering the next phase of her unique journey with Gene-RADAR, a mobile diagnostic platform that can provide real-time access—to anyone, at anytime, and anywhere—to personalized information about their health and, with a bit of saliva or pinprick blood sample, quickly and effectively diagnose diseases such as HIV, Ebola, Zika, and other infectious diseases. All of this, with an eye toward squelching future pandemics, too, like the Avian Flu and SARS.
In short, Dr. Goel’s aim is to transform the cumbersome, slow-moving, costly, and waste-producing centralized healthcare delivery system infrastructure that has been the model for nearly 400 years—one that now forebodes a multi-trillion dollar crisis in the U.S. due to “highly specialized and overpriced reductionist silos that seek to cut costs by adopting a one-size-fits-all mentality.” Nanobiophysics, she believes, will solve the problem, and the recent FDA validation and now commercialization of the Gene-RADAR platform, is just one step along Dr. Goel’s path—the result of her 20 years of steadfast dedication in pioneering this new field.
So What is Nanobiophysics?
Simply put, it’s a new science located at the convergence of physics, nanotechnology, and biomedicine—or, as Dr. Goel might call it, fun. But it’s intense, too. Through nanobiophysics, Dr. Goel and her colleagues at Nanobiosym harness tiny molecular machines that read and write DNA to detect the genetic fingerprints of various diseases. They harness these nanobiophysics insights to engineer micro and nanofluidic platforms that enable real-time, mobile diagnosis. If that makes your head spin, realize this: In the advanced technology work that she has been pioneering, Dr. Goel considers the development of Gene-RADAR to be “low-hanging fruit.”
Gene-RADAR, once implemented and executed, will be the realization of one of the many dreams Dr. Goel envisioned as a young girl growing up in rural Mississippi, where healthcare was scarce, if not non-existent. She watched her father, a prominent surgeon who previously worked in Massachusetts after emigrating with his wife from India, care for people who wouldn’t otherwise receive healthcare.
“My dad has always been an inspiration,” Dr. Goel says. “He is a visionary and a humanitarian—and he would take me, at the ripe old age of 6, to make rounds with him at the hospital.” Her father definitely made an indelible impression on his young daughter. By the time Dr. Goel was a teenager, she already had a passion for unifying physics, mathematics, and biomedicine—a passion that would lead her to be mentored by and work closely with leading Nobel Laureates first at Stanford, where she earned a B.S. in Physics with Honors and Distinction; at Harvard, where she earned a PhD in Physics; and the Harvard-MIT HST Program where she simultaneously became an MD with Harvard’s uber elite MSTP MD PhD Program.
Low-Hanging Fruit’s Incredible Health Benefits
Although Dr. Goel views the development of Gene-RADAR as low-hanging fruit, the technology will be a profound godsend to countries lacking the infrastructure to quickly diagnose and properly treat a disease. In sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, testing for HIV can take up to six months due to this lack of infrastructure, transportation, money—but that could be accomplished in most of the U.S. in two to three weeks. “What is someone to do when they have to wait six months for a diagnosis?” Dr. Goel asks. “Time that could be spent in treatment is spent waiting, and how does that affect the individual’s health?”
But that’s where Gene-RADAR really gets interesting: The v1.0 platform can deliver results in under an hour, affordably, without requiring running water, electricity, or highly trained personnel. That’s real time, and in a real place with a very real unmet need. Access empowers patients, Dr. Goel believes, to take control of their health.
Much of what Dr. Goel is doing attracts attention. Years ago, the ink was barely dry on her degrees when DARPA, a special arm of the U.S. military that funds high-risk, high-reward breakthrough ideas, chose her from a short list of the nation’s topmost scientists, professors, technology innovators, and entrepreneurs to fund her breakthrough research in nanobiophysics. She developed unique insights and novel technologies to harness the physics of molecular motors that read and write DNA and to precision control molecules. All of this is what led to her establishing both Nanobiosym Diagnostics and the Nanobiosym Research Institute, where she continues to develop new disruptive technologies to solve some of the world’s most urgent problems.
For her groundbreaking work, Dr. Goel received the first XPRIZE ever awarded for healthcare in 2013 and, in addition to multiple DARPA awards, won funding from many prestigious organizations including NASA, DOD, DTRA, AFOSR, NSF, and USAid. But it won’t stop there. Do expect more from this scientific powerhouse. Gene-RADAR is but the beginning of the paradigm shift in healthcare that Dr. Goel is currently driving. If you enjoy jaw-dropping surprises, keep an eye on this all-in-one physicist, physician, and entrepreneur. Something profound is on the horizon—and it has her fingerprints all over it.