Anyone who meets Surbhi Sarna knows she’s a woman who gets things done. I had the pleasure of first meeting Surbhi in 2015 at the Fogarty Institute, where she was building a start-up with one goal in mind: improving women’s health by helping detect ovarian cancer earlier. As every OBGYN knows, early detection of ovarian cancer has proven to be a difficult goal to achieve. Despite numerous studies trying to use biomarkers and ultrasound screening techniques, a reliable, effective, and efficient solution remains evasive.
Surbhi was only 13 when she was diagnosed with a complex ovarian cyst and had to grapple with the fear that it could be cancerous. Fortunately, it was not, but the health crisis led to her passion for addressing this problem. She founded nVision in 2009 and over the years grew the company, raising $17 million in investment capital, and developed a device to collect cells from the Fallopian tubes.
Because the inner lumen of the Fallopian tubes is so small and the walls are so thin and delicate, sampling cells from within the tubes poses a serious engineering challenge. With engineer David Snow, nVision developed a balloon device that inflates along the length of the tube and collects cells. The device showed promise in three in vivo studies.
In April 2018, nVision had some big news to share- Boston Scientific was acquiring the start-up for an up-front payment of $150 million with up to an additional $125 million in milestone payments. As Surbhi is quoted in their press release, “I am proud of our achievements in advancing efforts to help with the early detection of ovarian cancer.”
What’s next for nVision and Surbhi? Boston Scientific plans a large clinical trial to further test their device, and Surbhi will be along for the ride.
In an interview with Forbes, Surbhi explained, “I did not start this company because I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I was looking for some concept.” Surbhi’s passion for women’s health and strong voice in advocating for increased funding for innovation in the space is a source of encouragement to all entrepreneurs seeking to contribute to this important field.