An Exclusive Interview With neuro42’s Chief Strategy Officer, Abhita Batra
Q: What is neuro42?
AB: Based in San Francisco, neuro42 is a medical technology company focused on the development and commercialization of a portable MRI and robotic platform for brain interventions. We’re proud to be aligned with some of the brightest minds in health care and MedTech, with technology inventors from MGH and JHU. Ultimately, we hope to help physicians triage patients and perform interventions for diseases and injuries in a more effective and patient-centered manner.
Q: What prompted the creation of neuro42? Why was there a need for this technology?
AB: The inspiration for the creation of neuro42 was the increasingly high number of neurological conditions that occur each year. In the U.S. alone, about 800,000 people have a stroke annually. Meanwhile, some 1.5 million Americans have traumatic brain injuries and thousands more are diagnosed with cancerous brain tumors. We knew there had to be a better way to cater to these types of conditions through portable imaging for the head and brain that also incorporates emerging technology like artificial intelligence and robotics. We feel strongly that neuro42 will help these kinds of patients get answers on their conditions sooner and in a more comfortable fashion than they would with the current standard of care.
Q: What makes neuro42 unique? How is it different from other MRI systems currently in use?
AB: We’re unique in that our technology facilitates more than just an image. For example, we can be used intraoperatively for confirmations during and after brain tumor resection. Furthermore, we can be used to guide brain biopsies and enable image-guided interventions for epilepsy and PD.
Unlike traditional MRI systems that are massive in size and scope, our system is compact. In fact, it’s designed to fit inside a doctor’s office if needed so that patients don’t have to be transported to a standalone imaging facility for a scan. We also don’t require the type of shielding or extensive power requirements that current systems do.
Q: What can neuro42 do for health care and practicing neurosurgeons?
AB: Our aim is to elevate MRI methodology, diagnosis, and treatment outcomes for neurological conditions, offered at a more affordable cost than traditional MRI systems through a point-of-care shift. Every aspect of our technology, including the design of the actual system, was created with patients and providers top of mind. One example of that is how when undergoing a scan with our technology, patients don’t experience the same claustrophobia or hear the same loud knocking sounds associated with traditional MRI scans. That reduction in anxiety and enhancement of experience is a positive for everyone involved.
While we’ve gotten very positive feedback from all the providers we’ve spoken to, neurosurgeons are some of the most excited about what the technology can do for them. Because we are a low-field MRI scanner, we can be flexible and adaptable, incorporating robotics and artificial intelligence into the mix for more precise interventions. When it comes to the head and brain, you simply can’t be accurate enough.
Q: What’s next for neuro42?
AB: Continuing our clinical scans is critical because it gives us a chance to collect more data and fine-tune our processes. The next big milestone for neuro42 will be submitting our documentation for FDA clearance. Once we have that, we’ll begin an aggressive campaign to land neuro42 technology in facilities around the country.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
AB: The fear of not having enough time to balance my personal life with my professional life, but it´s a fear that I´ve learned to conquer as time has gone by and now I use it to my advantage.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
AB: I would have to say when we signed the lease for our neuro42 office space! That made the whole team feel like we were ready to take our mission to the next level.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
AB: I´ve learned to be relentless in the pursuit of excellence. While our goals may seem too complex or even far-fetched to some people, it´s the very possibility of breaking through the boundaries that makes our professional lives so engaging.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
AB: Too many to name. I think women have been an inspiration since the dawn of time, but if I had to name one I would have to name Mother Theresa; Her selfless devotion to providing loving care and attention to those who needed it most left a mark in my heart from a very young age.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
AB: I definitely believe achieving a balance between our professional careers and our time with our children and our spouses or significant others is one of the major challenges in this fast paced day and age.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
AB: I would tell them to be mindful of maintaining a healthy personal balance; If you are able to sustain a well-rounded mindset, build sustainable personal habits and develop an unquestionable work ethic you will go far!
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
AB: I always knew I wanted to do exactly what I´m doing now, and I feel grateful to be in this position.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
AB: It´s not always simple, but I try to be very organized when it comes to my schedule and my priorities. I always make sure that my family knows how much I love them, and I also take small, mindful breaks to re-calibrate in between business meetings and calls. Balance is key, especially when you are involved in multiple companies and people depend on your decision making capabilities.
Q: What would be the title of your autobiography?
AB: That´s a good question. I don´t know, I guess it´s too early to tell. There´s still a long road ahead!
Thirty Five Things About Abhita Batra
1. If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
Angela Merkel, Coco Chanel, Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, and my parents.
2. What's your favorite family tradition?
Family vacations over Christmas.
3. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
4. What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Spend time with my son and walk my dog.
5. Who is the most fascinating person you’ve ever met?
My husband, Amit.
6. What was the last book you really got into?
Sapiens: A brief history of humankind.
7. What’s the most amazing adventures have you’ve ever been on?
Every day as a startup entrepreneur is an amazing adventure.
8. Among your friends, what are you best known for?
For being empathetic and responsible.
9. Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever been?
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland.
10. What’s your favorite international food?
Indian and Mexican.
11. Who is your favorite author?
12. What’s your favorite app on your phone?
13. Best and worst flavor ice cream?
Best: Rose and Worst: Eggnog.
14. What TV shows did you watch when you were a kid?
I was never that much into TV, I liked to read.
15. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done?
Answering these questions.
16. What’s your favorite quote or saying?
There is nothing impossible to they who will try.
17. If you unexpectedly won $10,000, what would you spend it on?
I would donate it to Feeding America.
18. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
My day always starts very early, but I like the quiet at night.
19. What would your perfect vacation look like?
I would like to try space travel at some point.
20. Favorite Dessert?
21. Favorite City?
I love San Francisco.
22. Tell me about the best vacation you’ve ever taken.
I enjoy any chance I get to vacation with my family.
23. Do you read reviews, or just go with your gut?
I read reviews.
24. What’s your big passion?
Positively impacting human lives through disruptive innovations in healthcare.
25. What’s your signature drink?
Matcha green tea.
26. What would you sing at Karaoke night?
I would be clapping and cheering, but not singing!
27. What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play?
I enjoy playing chess in my spare time.
28. Have you ever met anyone famous? Who?
Of course. Isn’t everyone in Bay Area famous?
29. Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest?
Like most humans, vision is my strongest sense. However, I am fascinated by the research around the “sixth” sense of proprioception!
30. If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?
I don´t think I can answer that, there´s no way of even imagining the repercussions that changing something in the past would have.
31. What were you like in high school?
I was always friendly to my classmates but hyper-focused on my assignments and extra-curricular activities.
32. What would your perfect Saturday be like?
I would sleep an extra hour, have breakfast with my family and then go spend the day doing activities outdoors.
33. Would you rather cook or order in?
I wish I had time to cook, but as you can imagine I order in often.
34. What was your favorite subject in school?
Can I say STEM?
35. Cake or pie?
Both, of course.