Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Business World selects MedGenome as one of the 20 Disruptors of 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

MedGenome raises $30M through Series C

MedGenome Secures $30M in Series C Funding Led by Sequoia India and Sofina

The company aims to accelerate adoption of cost effective genetic diagnostics

Sam Santhosh, Founder and Chairman of MedGenome
MedGenome, the leading genomics research and diagnostics company, announced completion of $30 million in Series C financing led by Sequoia India and Sofina s.a., with participation by Zodius Capital; Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder and former CEO of Infosys; and Lakshmi Narayanan, former CEO of Cognizant.
The Series C funding will accelerate development of the company’s affordable diagnostics tests and expand the market penetration by increasing customer awareness on the importance of genetic tests. Additionally, the funding will also be used to broaden biomarker discovery programs.
MedGenome operates the largest Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) lab in South East Asia, and a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited sequencing lab in Foster City, CA. The company’s services are being leveraged by pharmaceutical and biotech companies across the globe. MedGenome’s diagnostics tests include many “firsts” for genetic diagnostics in India, including first liquid biopsy “OncoTrack” for monitoring cancer treatment, non-invasive prenatal screening test (NIPT) for pregnant women, carrier screening test for couples planning on a baby, and whole exome sequencing test for identifying mutations in rare diseases.
With over a million babies born each year with genetic disorders, India carries a huge genetic disorder burden.
“Precision medicine is the ultimate goal of clinicians and patients alike which can be enabled through extensive biomarker discovery,” said Sam Santhosh, Founder and Chairman of MedGenome. “MedGenome has established leadership in genetic diagnostics for inherited diseases in India. We will now expand DNA based testing to cover infectious diseases like tuberculosis” he added.
“MedGenome continues to emerge as a leading genomics company bringing affordable and high quality genetic testing to emerging market consumers, supporting physicians make better decisions and leveraging the power of that data to potentially impact global drug discovery market,” said Abhay Pandey, Managing Director at Sequoia Capital India Advisors. “Sequoia is excited to continue this partnership and are committed to helping MedGenome strengthen its proposition to consumers and doctors in these markets and become a significant player globally in the arena of precision medicine through data from the currently underrepresented emerging markets including India”.
"I am investing in MedGenome which addresses the extraordinary opportunities that exist today in the development of precision medicine” said Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-founder and former CEO Infosys. “MedGenome’s platform and network are designed to generate actionable insights for clinicians to diagnose and provide better management for complex diseases at reasonable costs."
“Sofina is looking forward to this partnership to broaden the use of genomics-based diagnostics in the Indian healthcare sector, and tap into the value of Indian genetic data for research. We believe MedGenome's efforts will have a definitive impact on healthcare delivery in India and around the world,” said Xiao-Tian Loi, Investment Manager at Sofina.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Startup Tea Talk - March 21, 2017

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Hindu - Oct 12, 2016

Sam’s world of science

PRINT   ·   T  T  

Entrepreneur Sam Santhosh is leading genetic research with his laboratories across the country. Genomics is the next big thing for humanity, he says

gene manSam Santhosh, CEO SciGenome, loves reading and archaeologyphoto: H.vibhu
gene man Sam Santhosh, CEO SciGenome, loves reading and archaeology photo: H.vibhu
Asecond innings is almost always about new beginnings and not always about cricket. For Sam Santhosh, Silicon Valley entrepreneur from the State, it is about embarking on a completely new path of genetic research, different from his earlier preoccupation with the software industry. It is also about his fascination for the prehistoric and related travels to remote archaeological digs.
His first success story was marked by several business acquisitions in the US and in the founding of an IT company Calsoft, a product re-engineering firm, in 1992, which grew to global proportions. He sold it handsomely in 2009 and began his second innings.
This time round he is a far more “relaxed” entrepreneur, a man who now wishes to wield his experience in ways to help societies, monetise new opportunities and indulge in his varied interests - history, mathematics and reading to name a few.
When most entrepreneurs still looked at genetic research with unease Sam pre-empted the next big thing that will be the vehicle of change for humanity as was the computer 30 years ago. He switched to genetic research founding SciGenom Inc.- a genomics R&D organisation, in 2010.
“The entire genetics research has been a long struggle. It took three billion dollars, 12 years of work and 15 countries to arrive at the first human genome sequence but genomics is the future, the next big thing, a much bigger revolution than computers. This may take another 25 years to play out but its impact on humanity will be bigger. This is the best chance, specifically for India, to use this moment for related research that will be useful to the people and country,” he says sitting in the boardroom of Hotel Le Meridien, on the sidelines of a global convention on genetic research hosted by his foundation. The first such mega event was held in Thiruvanthapuram in 2011 followed by, next year, in Chennai.
Hailing from Thrissur, and after his MBA from IIM Kolkata, Sam worked on his own in Kochi for three years, computerising businesses before he left for California in 1991. The eco-system there nurtured an out-of-the-box thinking, a trait that he wishes to ingrain into young mindsets here.
“If Steve Jobs was in India, he would have definitely done well but he could not have founded Apple - though he did come to India and drew his philosophy from here,” he says implying that scientific thinking needs to be stoked among students and start ups here and that India has the philosophical edge to back that. In payback mode Sam organised a reading initiative in 2014 along with Kairali channel to inculcate reading habits among MBA students. His gene research lab in Kochi and the spin-off companies MedGenome, soon to become in Silicon Valley parlance, a unicorn, Agri-Genome in Hyderabad are satellite labs into research, DNA Sequencing and Analysis and promote scientific thinking. “DNA sequencing is the powerhouse. It is a technology that will help other industries find solutions. In fact, we incubate solutions,” he says.
Currently Sam is savouring the moment with top scientists who are working on important discoveries, debunking myths, finding answers and exploring the unknown. “It’s an exciting field,” he says, adding that the capacity and funding for scientific research in India is low.
In his new scheme of things his other passions - reading and travelling - play an important part. He travels often guided by his keen interest to archaeological digs where he diligently follows unearthing the dead past, the latest being to the dig in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, where the Chola empire excavations dating back to 950AD are underway.
“The biggest story unsaid in South Indian history is about the second Chola Empire, from 950AD-1300 AD. In this part of the world not only was it the biggest empire but its influence in South and South East Asia is under appreciated,” he says revealing his deep interest in history of South India, something that he wishes to collate in detail.
With altruistic diversions has business taken a back-seat in his second innings? His work model is new and is about off shoots and spin-offs from a core concept. “People have not done this before, but wealth will be generated through spin-offs,” he says adding sequencing services will incubate other services. “This is the goal. It made sense to invest.” With a clear roadmap for scientific development in the future and buzzing with novel ideas Sam wishes that the scientist in India would be more appreciated. For his business is all about the power of the scientist and of monetising the power of science for humanity.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Public Intellectual in India by Romila Thapar - Book Review

"To Question or Not to Question? - that is the Question"

Romila Thapar is a renowned Indian historian with a number of excellent history and philosophy books to her credit. However, this book is different – it tries to examine the current status of the public intellectual in India. The origin of the book is a talk that she gave at the third Nikhil Chakravarty Memorial  Lecture (yes, I had also not heard of him but checked up on Wikipedia -  Nikhil was a respected journalist in India who founded the journal Mainstream) in Oct 2014. The lecture was titled “To Question or Not to Question, That is the Question”. That lecture has been revised and expanded in this book and five more essays added from other well known intellectuals – Sundar Sarukkai, Dhruv Raina, Peter deSouza, Neeladri Bhattacharya and Javed Naqvi, which were in response to Romila’s essay. The book concludes with a brief summary by Romila Thapar with her comments on the other responses.

In Romila Thapar’s lecture she laments the state of the current Indian affairs, the declining role of the Public Intellectual in India, the increasing communal polarization by religion, the rising Hinduvta extremism and trend towards increasing authoritarian behavior by the Indian Government. Surprisingly she downplays the economic development since the liberalization of 1992, and strangely believes that it has not made much impact. (I guess you have to be really living in an intellectual cocoon not to see how the last twenty years of development has brought millions of Indians out of poverty!). Other than that her essay is great and it brings out a large number of issues and points that all Indians need to think about, with her principal concern being about the legacy of colonialism that still leaves a significant mark on all major Indian policies.

Sundar Sarukkai’s essay focuses on nature of questioning and whether Thapar’s call to question needs to take into account certain fundamental characteristics of the act of questioning such as scientific rationality, knowledge/ignorance level, intellectual honesty, and ethics. Dhruv Raina’s essay focuses on Science and Democracy and argues that the institutional transformation of science over the last couple of years (a transformation in which the scope of criticism and skepticism is limited) has altered the relation between science and the public as well as the critical discourse on science and society.  According to him the world of ‘Big Science’ and dependence on large funding has reduced the independence of scientific thinking and thus reducing the effort to work for the good of society. Peter deSouza in his essay focuses on the definition of the public intellectual and his or hers different personas to examine the logic at work in the public intellectual. His essay is in three parts, with the first part covering the stories of three individuals (Priya Pillai in India, Yeshayahu Leibowitz in Israel and Avijit Roy in Bangladesh) which are tragic examples of what public intellectuals can face in today’s world. The second part examines the factors that prevent public intellectuals being more active and third part looks at how these factors work in Indian politics today.
The fourth essay is by Neeladiri Bhattacharya and it questions the framework of Thapar’s question and the type of public individual that she is referring to. He is more optimistic than Thapar on the state of Indian affairs and feels that the role of the public intellectual in India has not diminished much. I found the final essay by Jawed Naqvi, the best of the lot. Starting with a couple of examples where the Public Intellectuals have played an important role in recent developments in India, he still highlights the major challenges faced by questioning voices in the supposedly democratic fabric of Indian society. Urging us to look beyond the much-hyped Hindu-Muslim divide in India, he brings to open the caste consciousness still highly relevant in India.

All the essays are of very high quality and I salute Romila Thapar for this endeavor to bring them out in a single book format. This is a must read for all Indians who are concerned with the future of our country.