Tag: Atana


Student startup Atana seeks to boost scientific collaboration through…

Student startup Atana seeks to boost scientific collaboration through blockchain technology


Atana team
From left: Atana co-founder and CTO Kevin Joo, co-founder and CEO David Shi and COO Nam Nguyen pose for a photo.
If money is the ultimate motivator, why not use it to encourage people to be proactive about their health and contribute to biomedical research?
That’s the idea behind Atana, a startup led by co-founders and Johns Hopkins University seniors CEO David Shi, an economics major, and CTO Kevin Joo, a biomedical engineering and computer science major.
The company has developed a secure and scalable distributed ledger infrastructure to boost scientific collaboration. It permanently records transaction details and distributes them across sources to prevent malicious parties from acquiring protected information.
The team’s original idea focused on the creation of a new cryptocurrency used to pay patients for their health data, but it has since developed into something with the potential to be so much more, explained Joo.
Using the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies to create a health passport, patients will be able to securely own and ultimately sell their health data to researchers, decreasing the costs and time associated with collecting information for studies and allowing for diversity in research populations, Joo says.
“We wanted to use this technology as a way to advance the concept of data ownership, patient consent and privacy in health care and biomedical research,” Joo says.
Securing the data is critical to the success of their technology, says Joo. Researchers can upload credentials and documents through a distributed ledger, and once verified, they can recruit patients and access data through a search instead of waiting to access databases or electronic health records.
Meanwhile, patients get the ability to influence medical research while bettering their own health outcomes by linking up devices that track health habits like fitness trackers and smartwatches.
In November, Joo and Shi met Nam Nguyen during a late-night session at FastForward U East, an innovation hub that provides registered Johns Hopkins University students with 24/7 access to co-working space, meeting rooms and workstations. After bonding over discussions of emerging blockchain-based technologies, Nguyen joined the Atana team as COO.
Shortly after, the team started developing “a more cohesive business model,” says Joo.
“A lot of new blockchain-related companies rush to launch their token sale and figure the rest out later,” Joo says. “We’re being diligent about both. At the end of the day we also want to have an actual product with a business model that makes sense.”
Under this newer model, Atana is focusing on licensing their technology to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology and health care companies.
They have also established partnerships with health artificial intelligence companies, health systems, contract research organizations, DNA sequencing labs and pharmaceutical firms to test the technology’s potential through pilot studies—including working with partners to test whether cryptographic protocols can be used to search millions of protected patient data points during the patient recruitment process while maintaining patient privacy.
Atana also received financial support this year from the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund, which supports Johns Hopkins students aiming to solve challenges through entrepreneurship. Members of each year’s cohort receive up to $10,000 as a grant, mentorship from investors and serial entrepreneurs, and additional resources from FastForward U, a group within Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures that provides extracurricular training and resources to enable students curious about or committed to becoming an innovator or entrepreneur.
Joo said the company’s business model and specifics were flushed out through long nights and odd hours at FastForward U’s innovation hubs.
Looking ahead, Atana is working toward hiring employees on a salaried basis and readying to close a seed round within the next few weeks, gearing the company up for a token generation event in coming months, Joo says.
“When we started it was about blockchain’s potential, not what can it do right now,” says Joo. “We spent a lot of nights ironing things out into something we could really sell. I don’t think that without such a space provided to us that [Atana] would have been possible.”

Get more information about FastForward U here!

Student Ventures

The 2017-2018 O’Connor Fund Cohort Aiming to Commercialize Disruptive…

The 2017-2018 O’Connor Fund Cohort Aiming to Commercialize Disruptive Ideas


Ralph S. O’Connor and his wife, Becky

They’ve identified major challenges, now five ventures led by Johns Hopkins students have the opportunity to develop innovative solutions with support from FastForward U’s Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund.

The fund — founded by Ralph O’Connor, a Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences alumnus, and his wife, Becky — will provide each member a $5,000 non-dilutive grant, an opportunity to earn $5,000 more and mentorship from FastForward U.

“Where some see only problems, this group of precocious student entrepreneurs sees opportunities to drive change through innovation” says Darius Graham, director of student ventures. “We believe that our 2017-2018 cohort possesses transformative ideas and the skills and tenacity to bring them to life.

“We hope that, like in years past, the teams use the resources the O’Connor Fund provides to reach their full potential.”

Over the past four years, the O’Connor Fund has supported 17 teams of Johns Hopkins student entrepreneurs. Already, a number of these have begun disrupting industries. Take, for example, Fractal Tech, a cybersecurity startup acquired by Sunayu last summer. Or, consider Proscia, a startup that has raised over $1 million to develop its digital pathology platform.

Due in part to the successes of these peers, interest in the O’Connor Fund has spiked. Over the past two years, the O’Connor Fund has received a total of 71 applications, compared to a total of 29 for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 cohorts.

“Demand for programs like the O’Connor Fun has surged,” Graham says. “Through FastForward U, we hope to empower students to pursue innovation and entrepreneurship while in school or at some point in their professional careers.”

The 2017-2018 O’Connor Fund Cohort


Venture: Atana
Lead: David Shi (Senior, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences)
Description: Atana is creating secure and scalable distributed ledger infrastructure for collaborative research and development networks.

“We are hoping that the O’Connor Fund will help us secure additional strategic partnerships and accelerate our current pilot studies,” says Shi, the founder and CEO of Atana.

Venture: OtoGlobal Health
Lead: Aseem Jain (Senior, Whiting School of Engineering)
Description: OtoScreen is an affordable, smartphone-based Otoacoustic Emissions device that is designed to penetrate the developing world health care market and establish the standard of care for pediatric hearing screening in developing countries.

“We look forward to working with FastForward U to achieve business goals and hope to leverage their connections to find Johns Hopkins professors who can help us improve our technology,” says Sanjay Elangovan, OtoGlobal Health’s COO. “Although our device is ready for testing, until now, we’ve lacked the necessary funding. The O’Connor Fund will help us obtain better hardware for our technology, and will enable us to validate our idea.”

Venture: Treyetech
Lead: Eric Chiang (Senior, Whiting School of Engineering)
Description: Treyetech is a business-to-business venture that facilitates corneal transplants with a new device and disruptive workflow, improving patients’ vision beyond the current standard of care.

“The Treyetech team is thrilled to be a part of the 2017-2018 Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund cohort, and we look forward to JHTV’s guidance and support as we navigate manufacturing and testing for our device,” says Stephanie Cai, a co-founder of Treyetech and a senior biomedical engineering major. “The O’Connor fund will provide us the resources necessary to conduct important pre-clinical studies and push forward with commercialization in the coming year.”

Venture: VersaMaker
Lead: Travis Chan (Sophomore, Whiting School of Engineering)
Description: VersaMaker is a maker device with modular tool heads so that the users can change its functionality from 3-D printing to CNC routing to laser engraving to liquid printing and more — all from a single, versatile machine.

“The O’Connor Fund’s monetary award will allow me to prototype and reiterate my product much faster. I will use the $10,000 and additional funding, towards prototyping, conferences, customer research, and possibly towards creating a crowdfunding campaign,” says Chan, the founder of VersaMaker. “However, the O’Connor Fund offers more than just money. FastForward U sets up each company with an experienced mentor from their Mentor-In-Residence program and I hope to get some advice and connections from this opportunity. In addition, FastForward U offers accounting/tax resources and legal support which will definitely come in handy for me around tax season and when I patent aspects of my product.”

Venture: Weel
Lead: Eyan Goldman (Sophomore, Whiting School of Engineering)
Description: On a mission to connect friends through commerce, Weel is creating a digital platform which introduces the social aspects of retail shopping to the rising world of ecommerce.

“The capital provided by the O’Connor Fund will enable Weel to accelerate its timetables by expanding our development capabilities, ultimately enabling us to have an earlier beta release,” says Goldman. “The resources the O’Connor Fund provides are especially exciting. As an early stage startup, we use all resources available to us. Being part of the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures ecosystem is something that we really look forward to.”


Click here to learn more about the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund!


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