JLABS: Meet our Resident; James Hare

By JLABS
Q&A

Since JLABS @ Shanghai opened on July 27, 2019, the state-of-the-art 4,400 square-meter facility has been home to some of the most exciting life science start-ups in the world. In this series, we share with you some of the ways in which these start-ups aim to shake up the healthcare industry.

自从JLABS @ 上海于2019年7月27日正式启用以来,这一占地4400平米的先进园区便汇聚了来自全世界的最令人激动的生命科学初创企业。在这一系列中,我们将与您分享这些初创企业如何变革医疗产业的故事。

Introducing Us2.ai

介绍Us2.ai

Us2.ai is a fast-growing medtech business that concentrates on using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning with the aim to automate the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Us2.ai是一家正在快速发展的医疗科技企业,其专注于运用人工智能和机器学习的技术使心血管疾病的诊疗过程自动化。

The Problem[1] The Solution
Cardiovascular disease remains the top cause of death for men and women globally. Although early detection is key to reducing the mortality rates, at present, echocardiography – the most widely used tool for detection – is slow, expensive and an error-prone manual process that can only be completed by trained specialists. This means that not nearly enough cases of heart disease are being caught early. Us2.ai has developed a machine learning platform to transform the manual procedure of measuring and interpreting echocardiograms into a 60-second, one-click process that can be used even by general practitioners. They are also developing disease prediction and prognosis tools for cardiovascular ultrasound, as well as a federated learning platform connecting large stores of image data around the world.

问题:心血管疾病是全球男性和女性最常见的死亡原因之一。虽然早期诊断对降低死亡率而言至关重要,但目前最广泛使用的诊断工具-超声心动图却是一个缓慢、昂贵且容易出错的人工过程,并只能由经过训练的专家操作。这意味着仅有少数心血管疾病能尽早诊断。

解决方案:Us2.ai开发了一个机器学习平台,将人工测量和解读超声心动图的过程转变为一个仅需一次点击和60秒钟即可完成的过程,且可由普通医护人员操作。同时,Us2.ai正在开发一个可用于心血管超声图的疾病预测工具,和一个连接全球大型图像数据存储库的联盟学习平台。

We sat down with James Hare, co-founder and CEO of Us2.ai, to learn more about what inspired him to found the company and how he feels Us2.ai is differentiating itself from its competitors.

我们和Us2.ai的联合创始人兼CEO James Hare聊了聊,也进一步了解了是什么启发他创立公司,以及Us2.ai和其他公司的不同之处。

So, James, how and why did you decide to found Us2.ai?

所以,James,您为何决定创立Us2.ai,又是怎样创立Us2.ai的呢?

I was inspired for personal reasons. I had just retired when I received an abnormal heart reading during a check-up. After the alarm sounded, I was quickly ushered off to get an ultra-sound and sought second opinions. However, what I thought was going to be a regular, straightforward procedure was in fact very confusing after receiving two contradictory sets of results from different doctors.

我个人的经历启发了我,当时我刚退休,在一次体检中发现我的心脏出现异常读数,之后就被迅速安排接受超声波检查并咨询了另一名医生的意见。但当我发现两位医生的诊断报告出现矛盾时,我觉得一个原本我认为很简单的常规检查也可以令人感到非常困惑。

As my partner is a cardiologist, I was able to go into the backrooms of the hospital and see the doctors working with the results behind-the-scenes. It was then that I realized that this was an exceedingly slow and manual process, and not nearly as straightforward as I had originally envisaged. There and then, it struck me that this could be automated – and it was this insight that was the genesis of Us2.ai!

由于我的伴侣是一名心脏科医师,这使我有机会进入医院内部,从旁观察医生们如何处理检查结果。我了解到这是一个极度缓慢和人工化的过程,并不像我原本所想的那样简单。那一刻,我意识到这一过程应该要自动化,这个想法成为了我创立Us2.ai的契机。

That’s an inspiring story. Where do you see Us2.ai going next?

这是一个很有启发性的故事。你认为Us2.ai未来将如何发展?

Well, our moonshot vision is to give everyone control of imaging their own heart. Right now, across the world, there’s a huge backlog of people waiting for echocardiograms. For example, even in a developed country like the UK, the waiting list is frequently the longest of all diagnostic tests and can last months[2]. At present, doctors can’t follow their own medical guidelines due to lack of capacity. But Us2.ai aims to change this.

我们的终极愿景是让每个人都能掌控他们自己的心脏检查影像。目前在全球范围内,有大量的患者正等待接受超声心动图检查。比如,即使在英国这样的发达国家,超声心动图的等待名单也往往是所有测试中最长的,可能需要等待数月。现在,受限于检查能力,并非所有医生们都能够实现遵循相关的医疗准则。但Us2.ai计划改变这一局面。

The next generation of ultrasound machines is very mobile – they're like a probe you can plug into a phone or device to read your heart. However, the more accessible this technology becomes, the more important it is to understand and process the data collected correctly. That’s where Us2.ai steps in. We use AI to measure and annotate the ultrasound images of the heart, with the aim to make the process more efficient for cardiologists, all while giving ordinary people the ability to see and understand what’s going on with their own heart.

下一代的超声波检查机器非常便携,它们就像一个能插入手机或电子设备中读取心脏情况的探头。但是,这一技术使用范围越广,正确地理解和处理所收集的数据也就越重要。这是Us2.ai能够做出贡献的地方。我们使用AI来测量和标记心脏超声图,让这一过程更高效,并让普通人能够看到和理解他们的心脏运作状态。

Working with Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS has opened new doors for us and allowed us to look beyond our current scope. Together, we’re looking at how we can expand the functionality of Us2.ai with the aim to support the fight against other diseases too.

和强生创新—JLABS共同工作为我们打开了新的大门,也让我们的目光超越当前的范围。我们得以一起探讨应该如何拓展Us2.ai的功能,以支持其他疾病的诊疗过程。

What were some of the early challenges Us2.ai faced?

Us2.ai早期面临什么挑战?

Well, the two main challenges we faced were talent and funding. AI talent is hard to find – they're like rock stars compared to us mere mortals! Fortunately, we started in partnership with the Singaporean Government, which gave us access to premier research institutes where we could collaborate with experts while building our original team.

其实,我们当时面对的两个主要挑战是缺乏人才和资金,AI人才难以寻找。幸运的是,我们和新加坡政府开展的合作,使我们能够进入一流的研究机构并可以和专家合作,并建立我们自己的团队。

As for funding, we were very lucky to quickly attract the strong support of two amazing leads, Sequoia and EDBI. Both firms realized Us2.ai offered valuable tools not only for the diagnostics market, but also for those who want to do research on echocardiograms, since pharmaceutical trials generally require echocardiograms.

就资金而言,我们很幸运能够取得红杉资本和EDBI两家杰出投资机构的支持。两家公司都意识到,Us2.ai不仅为诊断市场提供了有价值的工具,并且由于药物试验通常需要这一技术,同时也能帮助那些希望进行超声心动图研究的人们。

You’re a serial entrepreneur both in Silicon Valley and Europe, but Us2.ai was the first company you set up in Asia. What is unique about starting a company in this region?

您在硅谷和欧洲都进行了一系列创业,但Us2.ai是您在亚洲创立的第一家公司。在这一地区创立公司有什么独特之处吗?

Founding a company like Us2.ai in Asia has been a fascinating experience. In Asia, there seems to be this misconception that heart disease is a predominantly Western problem associated with obesity, but actually, Asia has the fastest acceleration of cardiovascular disease in the world[3]. So, there’s a huge opportunity to really make a difference here.

在亚洲建立一家像Us2.ai这样的公司是一次有趣的体验。在亚洲,有些人似乎存在一种误解,认为心脏病主要由肥胖导致,且是西方国家需要面对的问题。但其实亚洲的心血管疾病增长速度是全世界最高的。因此,我们有巨大的机会能在这里真正发挥作用。

More generally though, I love building companies in Asia because there’s just so much support – it's really remarkable. Starting in Singapore was great and then moving to Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS has been a game-changer. At Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, we’ve been introduced to so many people in Mainland China, and I never cease to be amazed at the no-nonsense, entrepreneurial spirit of everyone I meet. It really reminds me of Silicon Valley in the early 90s. There’s such drive and determination and a wonderful feeling that, with the right team and the right software, anything is possible!

整体而言,我热爱在亚洲创立公司,在这里我能得到很多支持,实在很了不起。从新加坡起步是很好的起始点,而加入强生创新—JLABS则彻底改变了我们的发展道路。在这里,我们认识了许多来自中国大陆的人才,而且我总能被每一个人身上那种认真的创业精神所震撼。这真的让我想起90年代初的硅谷。这里充满干劲和决心,且令人坚信,只要有合适的团队和软件,任何事情都有可能!

Lastly, any parting advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs?

最后,您能给未来的创业者一些建议吗?

Certainly! I love entrepreneurship, but we should not forget that most start-ups fail. Therefore, as a leader, from my perspective your No.1 priority should be to reduce the risk of failure. You always want to be looking for risk reduction methods and opportunities. In fact, that’s why we entered into JLABS @ Shanghai.

当然!我热爱创业,但我们不能忘记大多数初创企业都以失败告终。因此,我认为作为领导者,你的首要任务就是降低失败的风险。你应该持续寻找减少风险的方法和机会。其实,这也是为什么我们加入了JLABS @ 上海的原因

Programs like this provide you with a soft place to land when entering a big commercial market. Through them, we’ve gained access to a fantastic network of people not just in China, but worldwide, who have all faced similar challenges and to whom you can reach out whenever you need help. I would seriously recommend any fresh entrepreneurs leverage organizations like Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS in order to help minimize their risks while maximizing opportunity.

这类项目为你提供了一个初入巨大商业市场时的缓冲区。通过这些项目,我们可以与中国以及全世界的优秀人脉网络接触,大家都曾面临类似的挑战,如果你需要帮助可以随时联系他们。我衷心建议刚起步的创业者好好利用强生创新—JLABS这类组织,以帮助他们把风险降到最低,并发掘最多的机遇。

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)

[2] https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/06/DWTA-Report-May-14.pdf

[3] https://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ehf2.12036#references-section