Júlia Rodríguez-Comas (Sycai Medical)

The journey from academia to entrepreneurship

Abstract: Transitioning from academia to entrepreneurship is a journey filled with complexity and emotion, regardless of one’s career stage or destination. In 2020, I embarked on this transition, concluding an academic trajectory that began with my doctoral studies in 2014. This journey led to the founding of Sycai Medical, a pioneering startup dedicated to advancing the detection and classification of pre-cancerous lesions in the upper abdominal organs through innovative radiological imaging technology.

Starting with just three co-founders, Sycai Medical has evolved into a vibrant team of fifteen individuals, all driven by our shared mission to revolutionize healthcare. Our primary project focused on developing a radiological assistant tailored to identify pancreatic cystic lesions, offering immense potential for clinical applications and medical relevance. Through rigorous testing in hospital environments, we validated the effectiveness of our technology and gained valuable insights into pancreatic lesions, laying the groundwork for broader applications in abdominal imaging.

Moving forward, our ambitions go beyond focusing solely on pancreatic lesions. We aim to utilize our technology to detect a broad spectrum of abnormalities in abdominal CT scans, with the potential to intervene early and prevent their progression to cancer. This involves taking a comprehensive approach to addressing all types of abdominal lesions, paving the way for a new era of precision medicine and enhanced diagnostic accuracy.

This conference presentation will delve into the intricate journey from academia to entrepreneurship, highlighting the challenges, successes, and transformative potential at the intersection of medical AI and startup culture.

Biosketch: Júlia Rodríguez-Comas is an experienced researcher in the field of pancreatic diseases. She holds a PhD in Biomedicine, carried out at Hospital Clínic / IDIBAPS (Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer), Barcelona. The main line of her thesis research involved the study of the molecular, genetic and environmental factors critical to pancreatic β-cell dysfunction in type 2 diabetes.

She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). Her work focused on creating a multi-organ-on-a-chip device combining 3D skeletal muscle tissue with pancreatic islets to mimic organ physiology for disease study.

She is currently the Chief Scientific Officer at Sycai Medical, a medical startutp that she co-founded in 2020. Sycai Medical specializes in automating the detection and classification of pre-cancerous lesions in solid organs in the upper abdomen using abdominal radiological images.

She also acts as a visiting lecturer at different universities and to date, she has authored 15 peer-reviewed articles, she has also been actively engaged in outreach activities, delivering scientific talks, and organizing conference sessions for PhD students.