Founder-CEO Interview Series

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Sanja Baumann-Tomovska

Dr. Sanja Baumann-Tomovska is the Founder of CEO of Quant Biomarkers and Country Chair of the VAB Swiss chapter, amongst other Board positions.

She has a vast amount of experience across pharmaceutical portfolio stages and business delivery: strategy, lifecycle, venture development, R&D, M&A, clinical, marketing, and change management. She holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Basel, Switzerland in Biomarkers in Cancer Diagnostics and has a business education from INSEAD and Columbia Business School.

Founder-CEO Interview Series

with Sanja Baumann-Tomovska

What is the void in the market?

The void in the Healthcare market is directly influenced by demographic changes, specifically in fertility rates, life expectancy, and net immigration levels. Declining birth rates and increased life expectancy necessitate adjustments in health systems, focusing on age- and needs-based care. This demographic shift has broad implications for economic factors such as growth rates, productivity, living standards, savings, consumption, and investment.

For healthcare providers, the growth of the ageing population poses a significant burden on the system, with costs expected to double by 2050 due to the need to manage chronic diseases in the ageing population. Currently, only 2.7% of total healthcare spending is allocated to prevention, indicating substantial growth potential. Shifting focus from ‘sick-care to healthcare’ can save future resources while enhancing the quality of life.

What is the team at Quant Biomarkers building? 

At QBM, we are committed to delivering preventive care solutions that address the needs of the ageing population, particularly those over 40 years old, marking the onset of biological decline. Leveraging innovations in biomarker technologies, we focus on identifying risks at the early stages of diseases and providing prognostic insights into the tipping points for disease progression. We value solutions for pre-emptive therapy and care.

How did the idea come about? What was the preparation process like?

Our team comprises seasoned medical and pharmaceutical experts. We recognize the tremendous potential of a 15-fold increase in health data, and the vast opportunities for AI/ML and quantum technologies to advance diagnostic and prognostic biomarker innovation for risk detection and precision medicine.  Each of us has our natural curiosity in Big Data, wellness, and social needs.

This concept evolved through collaborations with hospitals such as Hvidovre Hospital in Copenhagen and the University Hospital in Basel. Our understanding of the unmet clinical need, particularly in chronic kidney disease (CKD), prevalent in the ageing population, has been instrumental. The CKD market size is estimated at $91 billion, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of ~10% by 2030. The CKD testing market is valued at $1.3 billion, with an anticipated CAGR of ~7% by 2030.

AI is the new buzzword these days. How do you separate AI with a strong use case vs just a cool concept?

A compelling and efficient use case for AI applications is rooted in our collaboration with stakeholders and customer-centric focus at Quant Biomarkers AG. We actively engage with our customers in the healthcare ecosystem in the development of our products to ensure relevance and actionability for customers, patients, and consumers. Our strategy involves collaborating closely with stakeholders to expedite approval and product launch and forging strategic partnerships with leading hospitals, nephrologists, biobanks, and diagnostics companies.

Although we love “science and discovery”, we try to ensure we focus on clinically meaningful and socially meaningful projects.

Current Work and Exclusivity of our products with RenoPredict® & RenoRisk:

• Our RenoPredict® algorithms systematically screen for unique biomarker combinations associated with chronic diseases. This process is poised to gain momentum with the integration of new data and partnerships.

• We aspire to enhance RenoPredict® by incorporating the innovative IP-backed biomarkers identified in RenoRisk into our machine learning model. Additionally, we are committed to delivering a point-of-care (PoC) diagnostic test for RenoRisk.

What were the obstacles going from a senior Pharma role to founding a company as an entrepreneur?

I believe the primary motivator for becoming a founder of a new venture is the amplification of entrepreneurial spirit that has consistently been part of my roles in pharmaceutical companies—referred to as intrapreneurship. Throughout my career, I have undertaken responsibilities in establishing novel approaches aimed at addressing unmet needs for both customers and the business. Being equipped with the key ingredient as a builder, I have easily found like-minded partners and co-founders, resulting in an impressive network of highly experienced professionals.

Perhaps the new challenge I faced was understanding the realm of investors and identifying the right ones to assist us in scaling up and launching our innovation.

 What are some upcoming milestones that the team is aiming to achieve?

 Next milestones:

  • Algorithm clinical testing
  • Prototype testing (soft launch) partner testing
  • Clinician & market insight- plan validation
  • “HTA” / Value-based evidence gathering for reimbursement

Top 2 challenges faced at the moment?

1. We are seeking a lead investor to guide us through series A financing.

2. We are in search of larger hospital partners for clinical testing in the US. Additionally, we are seeking a reliable partner to assist in developing a robust interface tailored for larger hospitals.

What drives you?

I am driven by a deep commitment to improving everyone’s quality of life during their lifespan. I believe that by combining preventive care with AI and digital advancements, we can bring innovative solutions to patients, doctors, insurers, and those seeking overall health.

Recognizing the vast potential, the Longevity market is expected to reach 28 trillion by 2033. This growth requires adjustments in the health system to offer care based on age and individual needs. We’re dedicated to contributing to this goal with our current products. Our main product, RenoPredict®, is a user-friendly tool using AI to help doctors predict CKD progression.

We have also recently licensed RenoRisk®, a unique urine-based test aiming to detect glomerular inflammation early, a sign of CKD. This test could have applications in diagnosing and managing other chronic diseases within the cardio-renal-metabolic syndrome.

My team, including Sam Agus, Dana Matsuzaki, and others, energizes and inspires me. Their expertise and dedication are a driving force that helps us tackle challenges together.

You’re also on the board of multiple organisations due to the experience you bring. How do you balance all these priorities and still focus on the most important missions?

My passion for Advisory Board roles grew simultaneously with the founding of Quant Biomarkers. Sometimes opportunities align to create a clear direction.

As an experienced leader in the Life Sciences with over 22 years of guiding product development and partnerships, I encountered the Virtual Advisory Board (VAB) organization. VAB is a community of highly experienced executive-level talents from over 45 countries, representing various industry sectors, serving as Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) and providing advisory board consulting globally. 

Today, I am proud to be the Country Chair of the VAB Swiss chapter.

My journey began at the non-profit organization Weizmann Institute of Science, focusing on sharing research advancements in the longevity field. This inspired the founding of Quant Biomarkers with a clear purpose to advance health solutions based on scientific evidence for the betterment of humanity.

Subsequently, I joined Advisory Board roles that significantly contributed to the venture I built. These roles complement each other, opening additional networks and resources. Rambam AG, a Swiss-based venture studio and accelerator platform, focuses on breakthrough drug discovery and development. It collaborates with Expert Systems AI, a platform based in the US with a proven track record in developing and marketing therapeutics.

Humansa, a comprehensive health care and wellness centre, is another venture I’m involved in. It fosters healthy living for all ages, reimagining health to empower individuals to understand their well-being, take control of their wellness, and unlock their true potential. Humansa pioneers preventive care in a transforming health industry, placing customers’ needs at the center of everything through innovative professionals, advanced technology, and multi-disciplinary expertise.

At the forefront of a constantly transforming health industry, Humansa is redefining preventive care with customers’ needs at the center of everything we do. Our unique approach is reinforced every step of the way by innovative professionals, advanced technology and multi-disciplinary expertise.

Any advice to share for other current or aspirational entrepreneurs in the life science field and beyond?

Entrepreneurship requires passion and persistence. If you are deeply passionate about your work, navigating challenges and staying committed to your goals becomes easier. Build a strong team dedicated to continuous learning and problem-solving and surround yourself with friends and family who will support and boost your resilience so you to NEVER GIVE UP or lose faith during the rough patches. 

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