Divya Nag, Apple/StartX Med/Stem Cell Theranostics

23-year-old phenom already starting companies, on numerous scientific papers, and getting tabbed by Apple to lead its healthcare push

Affiliations: Apple, StartX Med, Stem Cell Theranostics
Title: Special projects, Founder, Co-founder

All this 23-year-old Stanford dropout has done is found two companies that have raised millions in external funding. It all began when she spent 60 to 80 hours a week working in the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine as an undergrad.

There Nag discovered her passion for medical research on the heart, and in January 2011 (just two years after she began at Stanford) she became one of the founders of Stem Cell Theranostics, maker of artificial hearts made from stem cells derived from human skin. This "clinical trial in a dish" platform enables pharma companies to test their drug candidates for cardiotoxicity safely, early (5-6 years earlier than currently possible) and inexpensively.

In a YouTube video she explained that damage to the heart is one of the major reasons drug candidates fail and approved drugs are pulled from the market.

"Patients whose hearts beats irregularly in real life, their cells will also beat irregularly in real life," Nag said in the video. "With that said, we can literally create a clinical trial with patients with different ethnic, genetic and predispositions to heart disease, and test what a specific drug's affect will be on each one of those individual patients. We've tested every single drug that has been pulled from market due to cardiotoxicity and have shown with 100% accuracy that we could have spotted it on day one of its conception."

Nag's name is on 18 publications. One year after co-founding Stem Cell Theranostics, she founded technology company accelerator StartX Med. Corporate partners include Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Genentech, and the website says the companies StartX Med has helped hatch have been purchased by Silicon Valley bigwigs like Apple ($AAPL), Instagram and Yahoo.

In addition, Nag began working on "special projects" for Apple this year, according to her LinkedIn profile. 9 to 5 Mac says Nag was hired due to her strategic acumen and experience helping client companies gain FDA approval, not necessarily her scientific knowledge, demonstrating this woman in med tech's versatility.

For more:
iPhone 6 and Apple Watch demonstrate healthcare ambitions
Guess who wants a bite of the med tech 'apple'?
Apple joins Google on FDA med tech regulators' meeting calendar

-- Varun Saxena (email | Twitter)

Divya Nag, Apple/StartX Med/Stem Cell Theranostics