Why I Joined Q Bio: Clarissa Shen, COO

I’ve jumped in to the deep end again. And it’s one of my favorite times of building and scaling a business. The early team of less than 20 have worked with the founder to prove early concept and solved some of the hardest technical product problems. Early adopters are returning as users and word of mouth is driving real demand. The early glimmer of an idea has been substantiated and now lives and exists at the core of the company. Yet there are still many unknowns and so much to be figured out. But there’s a team here willing to work together to solve hard problems and actively learn together. This stage of a company — early and at an inflection point in building visibility, brand, usage, membership, and becoming a full-fledged business with lasting social impact is incredibly exciting. One of my favorite times to jump into start-up trenches.

So here I am at Q Bio. I was incredibly inspired by my early conversations with Jeff, Garry, and their early investors and board. Their vision and mission: treatable diseases no longer take lives, and every generation is healthier than the last. That’s a big and dynamic peak I’m motivated to scale. I’m honored to be able to join them on this mission.

Before joining, I had the rare privilege of being able to take 7 months off. In that time, reading, talking with friends and family, traveling, playing with new ideas, I have always come back to what makes it worthwhile to work. For those of us lucky enough, our time is the most precious resource we have. And this is amplified for me with 3 children at home who can always use more of my time. The mommy guilt is real. Yet I like to work hard on hard work and so where and how has to be meaningful if I’m away from home. Improvements in education, the environment, and health care have always been the 3 areas I felt would make the most difference in my children’s life and future.

The team at Q Bio is solving for truly actionable and hard science. They take their mission seriously. And what’s really inspired me to make the jump to Q is a set of core beliefs and how they are approaching building a solution that aligns with where I believe health care is going / needs to go. The team here believes that…

.…Prevention is better than the best treatment

This seems perhaps obvious. Those of us who try to exercise, eat healthy have absorbed this belief from a young age. I do this for my kids as it’s required for vaccinations, well-baby / well-child check-ups, and there’s a given schedule. My oldest, however, is already aging out of this schedule. It’s crazy that there’s a gap starting with older teens and young adults where we no longer have annual check-ups and only reactively go see doctors. For women it’s a bit better with ob-gyn check-ups, but the last time my husband and I had a comprehensive exam was in Taiwan over 4 years ago where there are more affordable and welcoming options. As Jeff Kaditz, Q Bio’s CEO/founder likes to point out, seeing our dentists regularly is the only model of regular, ongoing check-ups we do for our health. It’s not just anecdotally important, but lifestyle and prevention as medicine represents at least a 40% opportunity to improve population health.

…System biology that brings affordable, non-invasive radiomics side-by-side with clinical biometrics will revolutionize our understanding of the body.

To tackle this, Q Bio is looking beyond targeted treatment populations. Instead, the team takes a system biology approach and focuses on known markers and actionable insights for a broad and overall healthy population not worried about immediate disease treatment. The focus is on preventive medicine. As it turns out, all of us have something that may be “off” at any given time that does not require intervention. Or many of us manage and have under control some health concern, but don’t really have a full known treatment available. I have allergies that come and go without any clear understanding of what triggers them. There’s much that medicine still does not understand in terms of what a spectrum of health looks like. The approach of studying just single parts — whether genomics, microbiology, or focus on specific tissues or metabolic systems — feels like the parable of the blind men and the elephant. The conversations around inflammation and what it really reflects; or the recent unfortunate failures in Alzheimer medication trials because, as it turns out, there are larger systemic dependencies that a single path of treatment can not solve; these are all examples of where having interdisciplinary and holistic data would help us better understand our bodies. At Q, the specific focus has been to bring non-invasive, repeatable, and comprehensive radiomics together with known biometrics (i.e. data from genetics, blood, urine…) to provide a full picture of individual health.

…Actionable, individual changes in your own health over time is better than single point in comparison to population average for health baseline

And they are looking at this over time. The goal is to provide a big data, longitudinal view of health. The underlying thesis being individual risk factors are better indicator of health than comparisons to larger population averages. For those who are quantified health geeks, this goes beyond sleep trackers, FitBits, Apple Health, to look at known and actionable clinical markers. Note that this is not about research level omics, but replicable and known markers. And the goal is to catch any potential for disease early so that the focus can be on prevention and to not drive individuals to overtreatment, but instead early engagement before reactive treatment required. Interestingly, Q Bio to date has found that in about 21% of visits, clinically significant high risk factors affecting mortality and still at an early stage were found that informed clinical decision for early intervention or additional diagnostic evaluation. This represents significant cost savings in healthcare and, more importantly, better individual health outcomes. All a result of tracking early and personal baselines for individuals.

…Individuals should have access to and control over information about their health and bodies.

Finally, the team is committed to putting members first and engage with an individual’s chosen community of care providers, no matter who or where. This means focusing on privacy from day one and having high controls in place on how we collect data. I have not met many start-ups that have IRBs in place from the get go. And from a data ownership standpoint, so much of healthcare can be frustratingly truncated or locked within a system. To get second opinions, to move, to change providers often means a loss of your health history. And many companies in this space keep information they gather over individual health as proprietary. I really like the trust that Q is building with members by committing to provide full access, portability, and control over their health information. This is about truly empowering members.

At Q, we are building the physical of the future.

For any of you who’d like to jump in as well, please reach out @clarissa_shen! Come take control of your health and join us on this mission to make every generation healthier than the last.