A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week: Atheroson.
What: Atheroson, a startup attempting to commercialize University of Washington technology to measure heart vibrations.
Who: David Dupree and co-founders Srinath Narayanan, T. Fettah Kosar and Lawrence Rozsnyai won this year’s UW Business Plan Competition. Narayanan and Dupree, a former emergency-room doctor, were master’s of business administration students, Kosar studies bioengineering and Rozsnyai is in law school.
Getting started: The four were among eight students who received the WRF Capital/Gates Fellowship for Technology Entrepreneurship last year. They decided to form a company and entered their business plan into the UW competition in May.
Initial investment: The grand prize of $25,000 in seed money, plus a $5,000 technology award from UW and small investments from the founders.
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What it would do: Detect heart blockages by measuring turbulence in blood flow. Chest pain can indicate a serious heart condition, but sometimes it’s caused by other problems such as indigestion. The company aims to use ultrasound technology to produce a fast, noninvasive test doctors could use to determine heart conditions.
Presidential case: “Bill Clinton is our poster child,” Dupree said. He had a quadruple bypass after his arteries became almost completely blocked. “Nobody picked him up until he started feeling chest pain, and he has the best health care in the world.” About 40 percent of people who have their first heart attack die before treatment.
How it would work: An ultrasound device is placed on a patient’s chest to gather data for five to 10 minutes. It analyzes the data using a computer program and returns an image showing areas of turbulence in the heart. “Blood becomes turbulent around a blockage, just like water forms an eddy around a stone,” Dupree said.
The next hurdle: Raising money and persuading the UW to grant them a license to the technology. The university owns the technology and vets proposals from startups. Entrepreneurs are judged on their business plans, fund-raising ability and experience. The group expects a decision from UW TechTransfer in the fall.
Doctor to entrepreneur: Dupree, 46, left emergency-room medicine 12 years ago when he developed blindness in one eye. After racing a trimaran across the Pacific and making a living trading stocks, he decided to pursue a business career. His partners are no slouches either. Kosar is finishing his doctorate in bioengineering at the UW, and Rozsnyai, who has a doctorate in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will finish law school next spring. Narayanan will return to his native India to work for Intel.
— Kristi Heim