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October 20, 2023 19 mins
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(00:00):
I was born in Iran, andwhen I was ten years old, the
Islamic Revolution happened, and that sortof turned the world upside down for us.
I came to the US when Iwas a teenager, and we lived
in New York, and I wentto school at the University of Buffalo,
State University of New York at Buffalostudied car engineering and computer science, did

(00:25):
my undergrad and graduate work there,and later on I went to University of
Rochester and studied finance. You know, this is not going to surprise you.
In this feature we have of CEOsas you know, whether it's a
national one that we're doing today orone that I do locally for the Washington
d C in the DMV area.It is amazing how many immigrants have come

(00:48):
here at a young age and madeso many wonderful things happen in our world
and are now entrepreneurs and investors andCEOs. And I'm very lucky to talk
to people like you, Omeed,because I love to see. You know
what, America was supposed to bea melting pot of everybody from all over
the world getting an opportunity and makingsomething of those selves. We do want

(01:14):
to talk about the lab a lottoday and cancer screening obviously is a big
deal. And I want to talkabout technology, what the latest is,
and what you're doing with everybody domesticallyin the US, because I think cancer
and I know you would know thisspecifically, it's touched everybody either directly or
indirectly when it comes to cancer andour families or experiencing ourselves. But I
did want to talk about you beforeyou came up with your company about five

(01:38):
years ago. I know you're aninventor, you're an entrepreneur, venture investor,
and also an educator. Tell uswhat you did before coming up with
this company. Oh, A wholebunch of different things, you know.
As I mentioned in my education,I started in engineering, and after graduate
school, I went to work forEastman Kodak, which was a very large
company and working in many different fieldsat the time in Rochester, New York.

(02:04):
And I worked for them in medicalimaging, and that was the work
that I was doing actually in graduateschool with medical imaging, and I worked
for Kodak in cardiac imaging and beginningsof all the digital technologies that now we're
using every day in digital photography andimaging and all of those technologies were developed
over those years in the early ninetiesat Kodak, and I was very fortunate

(02:29):
to be working on a lot ofthose. I worked in different fields for
them, for Kodak and cardiology.I even went in the field worked for
them in Hollywood in sales and marketingand in anything from cell phone cameras to
printers to the various technologies that arenow all over the place. After Kodak

(02:51):
went bankrupt and was licensed to everyoneelse. After that, I actually came
to your nekad was I was amanagement consultant in Washington, d C.
It was very based in fairfeare X. Was there for a few years,
and after my few years in DC, I was recruited by Intel to go
and run some special projects for them. And I was with the proper part

(03:15):
of Intel, which is the microprocessorgroups, for five years, working on
a lot of different new technologies,anything from computer vision to face recognition to
what we call big data and AIpattern recognition and the technologies like that.
Worked on new microprocessor designs and circuitdesigns for those new chips. Around five

(03:40):
Intel was getting into back into healthcare, and it was one of the few
executives in the company that had anyhealthcare experience, and so I joined the
new division, which was Intel digDigital Health, and I ended up spinning
out a company out of Intel calledDossia, the healthcare I T company,
and Intel was investor, and theten very large companies ended up being investors

(04:02):
and supporters and customers companies like Walmart, ATNT, McKesson, and a whole
bunch of other ones. And thatsort of introduced me to the whole to
the whole area of electronic medical recordsand sort of what was happening in the
larger, larger discussions in healthcare inthe country. After a few years running

(04:25):
that company that was based in Boston, I went back to Intel starting a
new business for them around genomics.That was the area next gen sequencing.
And at that time I also startedthe research some research work at Harvard Medical
School as a part time, parttime faculty member, and I was being

(04:46):
an entrepreneur on the site in theareas of diagnostics and genomics. And I
haven't stopped since. I've started sixcompanies since then. Wow, And the
one they were talking about today inNinidia is the sixth one. So I'm
going to stop you right there becauseI'm going to fanboy just for a second,
if you don't mind. So,between Kodak and all the other amazing
things you've done, and I'll giveyou an analogy. I work in radio,

(05:09):
but I played sports, and youknow as well as I do that
when people in the media or celebritiesmeet sports people, they want to be
them, and the rock stars wantto be the sports guys. You know,
It's just that thing that you alwaysadmire somebody's profession, right, So
I love photography and I also lovejust, you know, technology. Now
you're inside the looking glass. I'moutside of when I hear you talk about

(05:31):
all these amazing things that you've doneover your career so far, and I
know you have so much more togo. Is it amazing to you between
the Kodak stuff and all the otherthings that you've done with genomes and sequencing
and all the new technologies that arecoming up in front of you? Or
is it another day at the office. And I know I'm not being modeling
about that. I'm just curious becauseyou're living inside it every day, so

(05:53):
it's different for you than it isfor me. But is it still amazing
that you're coming up with incredible thingsevery day of all the things you've done,
absolutely absolutely, and I feel veryfortunate to have been to have been
able to do that. You know, that's part of it. You know.
I sort of choose to go intoit because I'm endlessly curious about new

(06:15):
things, but just having had theopportunity to be at the ground floor a
lot of these things, I feelvery fortunate. Well, that's great,
Listen. I'm always intrigued by namesof companies, especially when I'm not sure
what exactly it means, but itcatches my attention. Can you tell me
the origin of the name of thecompany. Namida is Japanese for tears okay,

(06:38):
and there is there is, there'smore meaning behind it. So during
the Edo period, which was sortof like this, you know, the
Samurai, the last Samurai period inJapan. In Tokyo U, there is
a bridge called Namida Bashi with thebridge of tiars Okay and it's the bridge
that linked the prison to the executionground, and that's where the condemned were

(07:01):
allowed to say goodbye to their lovedones. Hence the name Bridge of tears.
To me, cancer is similar tothat bridge of tiers. It's what
gets takes our loved ones away fromus, and the mission of Namida is
to end those tiers, to endcancer by finding it, by finding it

(07:23):
early. Boy, I love thatthat all comes together, and that's really
well thought of. That that's verycool. I'm glad that you shared that
with us. All right, let'sdo it thirty dollars. Yes, we
work in tiers. Tiers is ourmedium of testing exactly, so it has
a double meaning, the double entendre. I really do like that a lot.
That's very witty, So thank youfor that. Okay, let's do

(07:44):
this. There's going to be alot of people that are listening to this
interview, Omita about what exactly youdo, So if you could give us
a thirty thousand foot view about whatyou and your step from the company does.
What is that we run. Essentially, we run two companies here under
one roof. One of them isan R and D biotech company discovering new
buyer markers to develop assays for earlydetection of cancers. And we also run

(08:11):
a second company, which is ayou know, it's a licensed laboratory to
actually run those tests and and uh, early cancer detection is really the easiest
way of cutting back a number ofdepths and cancer and cutting the cost of

(08:31):
of of treatment of cancer and soearly cancer detection is the goal of our
company. And we want to bringtests that are reasonably priced so they can
be available to everyone. And uhand that's one of the reasons that we
are working in the medium of tiersis because tears are the shadow of blood,

(08:54):
but they're all They're also highly concentrated. So if you're looking for low
abundance, it's small molecules that thatcan that that can denote presence of cancer
in your body. You can findthem much easier, which means a much
less expensive test in tears than youcan say in blood. All right,

(09:16):
so I'm fascinated and got me hooked. And I'm sure O listeners are now
about a little specificity about what youdo. So before you started this company,
what was available for cancer screening andhow have you changed the industry with
this new company in Namida. Sofor cancer screening depends what type of cancer.
So we have one product not calledAria and it's been in the market

(09:37):
for by nine months as a directto consumer test, and ARIA is a
breast cancer screening test. So youso breast cancer screening is probably one of
the most well publicized cancers. Andyou know, in the October everyone where's
pink, there's there's you know,there's a there's a lot of not for

(10:01):
profits that sort of like remind peoplethat this is the month that you should
go get you get a mammogram.So mimmography is a technology that sort of
established itself in mid nineteen eighties.And I can give you a little historical
you know, actually probably the best, the best historically documented cancer is breast

(10:24):
cancer. The very first breast cancerwas a Tusa, daughter of Cyrus,
Cyrus the liberator of Jews from Babylon. This was recorded in Herodotus histories that
she had a lump in her breastand the Greek surgeon removed the lump and
saved her life. So that isthe very first case of breast cancer that

(10:48):
was recorded in history. So fromthat fifth century BC to about nineteen eighty
five, there was really nothing otherthan waiting for that lump to appear something
that you could feel with your fingerdoing a self exam or a doctor doing
an exam. And in nineteen eightiesKodak invented a much higher resolution X ray

(11:09):
film and that was the birth ofmimmography. So we had nothing to about
mid nineteen eighties, and then thisnew X ray film gave us a tool
that was better than nothing. Itwasn't perfect, and it's still not perfect,
but it was better than nothing.So from that mid nineteen eighties to
today, that is pretty much thetool that we're using, and then we

(11:31):
have added other imaging tests for it. Now, the problem with just using
imaging as your first line of screeningis that you've got to see a lot
of things that are not cancer,and you're going to miss a lot of
cancers because imaging depends on the physiologyof the body. So women fifty percent

(11:52):
of women in the US have what'scalled dense breasts, and those dense breasts
show as white in x RA,and that that hides the calcifications that denote
presence of breast cancer, for example. So a lot of those cancers are
missed in women with dance press andthat is a really real, big problem,

(12:13):
one that has been publicized in themedia, and it's been it's been
it's been the subject of conversations inamong lawmakers at the state level, at
the federal level. But what todo about that, and so fifty percent
of women that have dance rests areserved poorly with this. Another thing that's

(12:33):
been happening in the last thirty yearsis that we have focused screening in the
US on women between the ages offifty and seventy, and today, you
know, there's a there's a proposalthat's that we want to bring it down
to forty. A lot of insurancecompanies already cover screening at forty. But

(12:54):
what has happened is that that windowof cancers in the last thirty years have
move to younger and younger populations.So today half the mortality of breast cancer
is in women under the age offorty five. Wow, And many of
those women do not screen at all. Women in their thirties don't screen at
all, so there is no toolavailable for them. If you're a woman

(13:18):
age thirty five and you go toa doctor and say I want to ammagram,
they will not give it to you. There's nothing available for them.
Our tool area uses protein biomarkers foundin tears and it screens for breast cancer.
And our screening starts at age thirtybecause when we developed our tests,

(13:39):
the data set that we use thewomen that we use to develop the test
started at age thirty, so wecan offer our test to women starting at
age thirty. Now, well youmentioned this, but I know that nothing
is perfect, but this seems likeamazing revolutionary technology that you also want to
make affordable and that healthcare covers aswell. With that said, with your

(14:01):
researchers and scientists and then all thedoctors that you work with, I imagine
that the medical industry is just giddywith this new technology that is starting to
become widely available in the United States. It's it must be just wonderful that,
you know, to make the doctorshappy that they have something new that
they can work with it to takesomething very quickly. Well, the small

(14:24):
group of physicians that we're working with, of course they're very happy with it.
But we're new, we're new inthe market, and it takes a
lot of I mean, the UShealthcare system is very slow to adopt new
things, right and partially because it'sit's it's not centralized at all. I
mean, you're dealing with many,many different entities, and so we're working

(14:45):
our way through that through this largeeffort. Look with the efforts like what
we're doing today, you know,talking talking to you, hopefully we can
reach a few people. But who'sreally happy with the introduction of this this
this tool right now it's offered asa direct to consumer test. Are women,
women who were poorly served before whoare looking for yet you know,

(15:09):
they're looking for another tool and what'savailable to them for screening. And those
are the ones who are happy,I imagine. So you know the other
thing with what you do, Imean with your great staff that you have
here and coming up with this newtechnology that I know, it's always fluid
and new things are happening, andI imagine you being a visionary and an

(15:31):
entrepreneur and an invenor, you're alwayslooking down the road. I know some
things you can predict. But what'sthe plan for you and the company over
the next five years in your growth. Where we want to be is that
we can actually take one test formany cancers. So we have six other
R and D projects in the pipeline. So we're working on a second version

(15:52):
of our breast cancer test that's adiagnostic and a diagnostic test and screening test
for five other cancers. We've takenthe biggest you know, the biggest ones
collorectal cancer, prostate melanoma, ovarian, and pancreatic, and we have we
have R and D projects in thosefive developing those five other tests. So

(16:18):
five years down the road, we'rehoping that we can offer suites of tests
that are easily, easily accessible andinexpensive to everyone. Wow, I got
to tell you the extraordinary that you'redoing this, you know, because as
I mentioned off the top of ourinterview, everybody's been touched by cancer,
UH in a very poor way,whether it's yourself or a family member or
a friend or somebody that you know, including you know, my dad died

(16:41):
of lung cancer, and my motherin law has had breast cancer, and
I've had friends that have gone throughsome rough outs with cancer. I luckily
have not lost anybody for a verylong long time. UH. Medical scientists
getting better. But thanks to youand your team and companies, this just
seems revolutionary, very exciting. Solet's this media as we kind of wrap
up, maybe i'd like to haveyou give our listener just one more takeaway

(17:06):
about your company, the things you'redoing, and just maybe some final thoughts
from you about what you want themto know about when it comes to NEMIDA.
What's unique about NEMIDA is that weuse tiers as our medium of testing,
and and tiars being a shadow ofblood. There are it's they're full
of bar markers. There are proteinbar markers, RNA, DNA, misoblomic

(17:30):
data. There's a lot of datain there. And and because they're so
easily accessible that you can you cancollect tiers within three minutes at home or
in the doctor's office or any otherplace, and you can you can make
inexpensive tests that is accessible to everyone. And and going down the road,

(17:53):
there's going to be so many ofthese new sensors and new ways of detecting
things that hopefully we can make cancernot the death sentence that it was that
it is today for for a percentageof people get it, but actually can
make it something like that's easily treatableand found in very early stages. I

(18:15):
I mean, if somebody wants tojust get educated a little bit more on
what exactly you do with the medialab and your staff and all the things
that are coming up, which isjust terribly exciting. This has just been
thrilling to talk about. What's thewebsite that they can check out namedia lab
N A M I D A LA b dot com is our website and
our product. If you want tolearn more about our breast cancer products,

(18:37):
you can find that at ari EAdot care au r I A dot C
A R E. Well, Ican't tell you how much I appreciate your
time. I could talk to hoursabout this because I've just as I said
earlier, I'm fanboing out with allthe incredible things you've done over your lifetime,
and I know there's more work todone to do, but you know,
making a difference in people's lives andkeeping them alive for a lot longer

(19:00):
than they have in the past isjust an extraordinary gift that I know.
This is something that I'm sure youand your staff cherish, but just hearing
about it and listening to all theamazing things you're doing, I'm just thrilled
that you came up with this companyfive years ago you're executing it. I
know it's you have to be patient, but it's just incredible what you do,
and I just want to watch youcontinue success and thank you so much

(19:22):
for joining us on CEOs. Youshould know thank you, Dennis, appreciate it.
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