Yu-Fen Wang (Andrea Wang) is the CEO of AHEAD Intelligence/AHEAD Medicine. She is a translational medicine and data scientist.
Q: What motivated you to get started with the company?
When I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 14, I became determined to make improving cancer care my lifelong mission. AHEAD was formed with a mission statement which is to reduce cancer mortality and cost by reducing diagnostic test turnaround time with AI-powered clinical decision support for physicians.
As a spin-off from the hematology division of a university hospital, we decided to develop tools to accelerate the flow of acute leukemia care, as it was among the top 10 most common and most lethal cancers worldwide. In the future, we will continue to develop tools to support different clinical decision support needs for other types of cancer.
Q: How have you attracted clients/customers and grown your business?
AHEAD has been actively participating in international medical conferences and innovation competitions since 2017. Through these opportunities to have an international presence, we have been able to collaborate with new partners who are also interested in improving the flow of leukemia care.
As a liaison between medical professionals, software developers and AI engineers, we have worked closely with users to develop a product (AHEAD-Flow platform) to meet the unmet medical needs. Therefore, we are able to connect with more potential partners through introductions from our existing collaborators.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Our team is now focusing on improving the flow cytometry analysis platform (AHEAD-Flow platform) and we’re preparing for a validation study and U.S. regulatory submission. This year, we also kicked off new collaborations with several flagship medical centers in the U.S., including the Mayo Clinic and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. We hope to complete product verification and validation within two years and launch the product in the U.S. market, allowing more hospitals to utilize clinical flow cytometry in cancer care so they won’t have to worry about analysis capability and capacity.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced so far, and how are you overcoming them?
Regulatory delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic is one of our challenges. Since our last pre-submission meeting application last December, we haven’t been able to get a response from the FDA. We are investigating an alternative route, such as breakthrough designation, at this moment.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
I strongly encourage joining female founder communities to connect with others who have gone down the path before. In addition, I also encourage female founders to find co-founders with complementary experience and skill sets.