“From Patient to Impatient Entrepreneur”: Surbhi Sarna on her journey to entrepreneurship


Surbhi Sarna, whose startup nVision Medical was acquired by Boston Scientific for $275 million, shared her journey from “patient to impatient entrepreneur” at SCET’s A. Richard Newton Lecture Series last Tuesday. Sarna’s talk was full of pointed, specific advice for college students and budding entrepreneurs. 

At the age of 13, when Sarna experienced the fear of ovarian cancer first-hand, she knew something in the women’s health field must change. After numerous doctors, tests, and ultrasounds to see if her recurring ovarian cysts were cancerous, Sarna learned that the only way to truly diagnose ovarian cancer was to undergo an invasive surgery that posed many risks and threatened fertility. Although this experience at a young age was challenging and painful, it pushed Sarna to want to be an entrepreneur and create an early detection mechanism for ovarian cancer. 

Throughout her career, Sarna has revolutionized women’s healthcare with her startup nVision, which is now preparing to launch Cytuity (TM), the only device that is FDA cleared to collect cells for diagnostic testing from the fallopian tube, the known site of the most lethal forms of ovarian cancer. This method is less invasive and more effective than current diagnostic testing. 

“When you start a company — especially in healthcare — there should always be a very clear need you’re solving, not just to be an entrepreneur by name.” Sarna encouraged SCET students to first chase their passions, study them and know them well, then consider turning it into a business. She warned that without passion and a mission, the merits of entrepreneurship are not as strong as they could be. Sarna elaborated that when entrepreneurs pursue an idea they’re enamored with, others will be enamored too. 

Innovators and entrepreneurs like Surbhi Sarna are leading the way for more innovation in women’s healthcare. 

Sarna concluded that “VCs and others might say ‘but [women] are only half of the population…’ and I say ‘that’s a huge amount of people.’”