A wireless AI-powered, 12-lead ECG device to improve cardiac monitoring in emergency situations
Amir Bolandparvaz earned his B.S. in bioengineering from UC San Diego and is currently a fourth-year biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis. Under the guidance of Professor Jamal Lewis, his research focuses on developing a preventative therapeutic for autoimmune autism, which affects one in 59 children born in the U.S. He has held internships at Genentech and Life Technologies and has worked for Natera, a prenatal genetic screening startup.
Outside of lab, Bolandparvaz has cofounded several startups and participated in the highly selective 2018 UC Berkeley Haas School of Business LAUNCH Startup accelerator. As a Business Development Fellow, he plans to further understand the dynamics of the biotechnology industry and hopes to pursue multidisciplinary and translation research to improve human health.
The following interview was conducted in fall 2018. Below that, Bolandparvaz comments on his experiences in the Business Development Fellowship program as it drew to a close in spring 2019.
In a nutshell, describe your project or venture.
I am working with two UC Davis Ph.D. candidates to develop a device that will improve cardiac monitoring in emergency situations. Our goal is to design a wireless AI-powered, 12-lead ECG device with the ability to (1) identify arrhythmia and heart attack signals in disruptive environments with an accuracy greater than a human; (2) use algorithms to assist with decision making of paramedics; and (3) seamlessly dispatch EKG results to a receiving hospital.
What’s important about your research or project—and where do you hope to take it?
My Ph.D. dissertation research aim is to develop a nanoparticle-based prophylactic for autoimmune autism, which affects one in 59 children born in the U.S. and mounts a staggering $268 billion in annual economic burden. I hope to investigate the efficacy of our therapeutic formulation in an autism mouse model and ultimately bring it to the clinics.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
I am passionate in translating research advances into lifesaving therapeutics. Further, my interest lies at the intersection of science and business. I hope to combine my scientific training, entrepreneurial experiences and business expertise to improve lives.
My interest lies at the intersection of science and business. I hope to combine my scientific training, entrepreneurial experiences and business expertise to improve lives.
What was the most important thing you learned at the Entrepreneurship Academy?
That implementing an idea is just the beginning of building a successful company. Establishing connections, building teams and persistently pushing forward are instrumental in growing a company.
What is the most unexpected advice you received from a mentor?
We quickly learned that although our proposed venture solved a vital problem, there was no customer for it due to lack of a regulatory incentive to purchase the product. As such, we modified our business model to find a different niche market.
Do you plan to participate in the Big Bang! Business Competition or “just” the workshops? How do you expect this to help you as an aspiring entrepreneur?
Leading teams in the 2016 Big Bang! Business Competition and the 2018 UC Berkeley LAUNCH Startup Accelerator, I understand the value of participating in business competitions and look forward to potentially competing this cycle. The Big Bang! is a great opportunity to kickstart an idea, write a business plan and build an investor pitch, with the potential to win the grand prize as seed funding for your business.
How will your experiences as a Business Development Fellow help you to change the world?
In my graduate career, I discovered my immense passion for developing ideas and establishing collaborations. Taken together with a background in retail and startup businesses, I learned my utmost interest is in both science and business. As a BD fellow, my scientific training combined with a deep understanding of innovation, team dynamics, and strategic alliances will allow me to carry a product from inception into the clinics.
What was the most valuable thing you learned as a Business Development Fellow?
The fellowship has been a life-changing opportunity for me. I’ve gained valuable entrepreneurial skills and advice from the amazing Graduate School of Management faculty and startup founders I met over the past year. My most valuable takeaway, aside from tremendously expanding my business knowledge, was the network I built, which will be instrumental in my career.
What did you love about the program?
The fellowship was one of the most memorable experiences of my graduate school—interacting with bright MBA candidates and faculty to understand what it takes to build and grow a business.
What would you tell a lab partner, fellow student or friend who is considering the program?
I strongly recommend the program for anyone looking to sharpen their business acumen. The MBA candidates, faculty and staff are fantastic in providing entrepreneurial resources and knowledge.
How will your Business Development Fellow experience help you in your career?
Pursing a career at the intersection of entrepreneurship, science and business, I have been able to expand my toolbox and network to catapult my career to new heights.