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An Interview with the Founder of Cardea Sciences and Winner of the Falling Walls Lab New York 2016


By: Edwin Linderkamp, Hallie Kapner

An Interview with the Founder of Cardea Sciences and Winner of the Falling Walls Lab New York 2016

On August 30th, 2016, the German Center for Research and Innovation organized the first “Falling Walls Lab” in New York City. Ten young scientists were invited to present their ideas for creating change in fields ranging from chemistry to cardiac care, tackling issues as diverse as food insufficiency, industrial waste, disaster relief, and refugee assimilation. While the presenters’ backgrounds and strategies were vastly different, all shared a common mission to solve the world’s most pressing problems through science and innovation.

If you're interested in presenting your project at the 2017 Falling Walls Lab New York on September 14th, apply here.

© Nathalie Schueller

Dr. Ya-El Mandel-Portnoy, the winner of the first Falling Walls Lab New York, competed against Falling Walls Lab winners from around the world at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin on November 8, 2016. She also attended the Falling Walls Conference on November 9, 2016. The German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI) conducted a brief interview with Dr. Mandel-Portnoy who is the founder and CEO of Cardea Sciences, a company that is developing cutting-edge technology to improve the treatment and quality of life of atrial fibrillation patients. She is an expert in cardiac physiology and electrophysiology with research interest and vast experience in heart rate variability, heart rate volatility, and other cardiac-related physiological phenomenon.

Watch her presentation, “Breaking the Wall of Atrial Fibrillation Care“

What are the most common causes of heart failure, strokes, and cardiac death? How serious of an issue is this?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, killing one person every 40 seconds. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in this country every year, and the disease costs the United States about 207 billion dollars per year. This includes the cost of health care services, medication, and lost productivity.

There are different types of heart disease, e.g. heart failure, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation. Heart failure affects 5.7 million adults in the United States and is caused by conditions that damage the heart muscle, including coronary artery disease. Ten percent of the world’s population above the age of 65 suffers from atrial fibrillation. Factors that may increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation are age, heart disease, high blood pressure, alcohol, obesity, and other chronic conditions. Stroke is the biggest concern when living with atrial fibrillation.

What are the current challenges for treating atrial fibrillation patients? How can Cardea Sciences help overcome these challenges?

One of the greatest challenges cardiologists face when treating atrial fibrillation patients is the inability to determine in advance which atrial fibrillation patients would be able to tolerate the arrhythmia well, with minimal impact on their quality of life, and which patients would not tolerate the arrhythmia well and will suffer from severe symptoms and adverse events. Cardea Sciences is developing a novel, non-invasive heart monitoring device to improve the treatment and quality of life of atrial fibrillation patients. Using an objective metric for characterizing the hemodynamic effect in atrial fibrillation patients (based on physiological phenomena), care providers will be able to identify atrial fibrillation patients who are set on a downward trajectory due to compromised hemodynamics and to optimize their course of treatment.

Cardea Sciences’ product addresses the need to identify atrial fibrillation patients who will suffer from clinical deterioration early in the course of their disease. Early identification of patients who are at a high risk for clinical deterioration can improve patients’ course of treatment and quality of life. In addition, it will save millions of dollars for the health system, hospitals, and patients by reducing costly readmissions.

Tell us about your experience presenting “Breaking the Wall of Atrial Fibrillation Care” at the Falling Walls Lab New York.

The experience of presenting my science and what I am passionate about was outstanding. The concept of pitching your idea in three minutes to complete strangers with different backgrounds was challenging, yet thrilling. You have to make your science approachable so that they can imagine the importance of your work and the magnitude of the problem that you are trying to solve. I competed against very talented, smart investigators and entrepreneurs who are trying to bring value to so many different fields, and I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to do so.

© Nathalie Schueller