Our Annual SBME Symposium is dedicated to transforming health and healthcare. It serves as a dynamic platform to showcase the latest innovations emerging from our school and facilitates meaningful connections with influential leaders from industry and academia who are driving new discoveries and advancements in the field.
The Keynote Speaker for the Symposium, Murali Venkatesan, Head of Danaher Ventures Americas and Europe, and Vice President of Science, Technology and Innovation at Danaher, emulates this through his role and passion for transforming Science, Technology and Medicine at scale to impact patients globally.
Murali joined Danaher (NYSE: DHR) in 2019, a global Science and Technology leader with $32.5 Billion in revenue and >$150 Billion market cap, operating companies including Beckman Coulter, Leica Micro- and Biosystems, IDT, Sciex, Aldevron, Cytiva, with joint responsibilities across Stretagy and Mergers & Acquisitions. Prior to joining Danaher, Murali was Director of Business Development at Lam Research (NASDAQ: LRCX), a leader in Semiconductor manufacturing tools and responsible for Lam’s strategy and a number of investments in Life Sciences. Murali had previously spent over 6 years at Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) as a Scientist, Inventor and Senior Manager, across Advanced Research, Technology and Product Development. Murali holds a Ph.D. in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program. He is an inventor on 19 patents and published in various scientific journals including Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Scientific Reports, Advanced Materials and Lab on Chip with >3000 citations.
We caught up with Murali ahead of the Symposium to find out a bit more about his career path and learn what advice he gives to aspiring students and entrepreneurs.
Murali’s career serves as a source of inspiration for younger generations of scientists, industry leaders, and academics alike. His trajectory is characterized by a visionary outlook, always striving to make a significant impact on a broad scale. When asked to share advice with aspiring entrepreneurs, Murali emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and embracing boldness and risk. Murali encourages, “Take the chance and be bold. Entrepreneurship is risk-taking by definition. You have to be comfortable in that and inspire that in others. Go solve big problems.”
Solving the big problem
From an early age, Murali’s passion for science and engineering was ignited through family, particularly his father, a biomedical engineer and scientist This early exposure, coupled with Murali’s dedicated research and exploration of the intricate connection between nanoscale/microscale devices and biology, as well as his involvement in Genomics following the Human Genome project, played a pivotal role in shaping his inspiring career trajectory. Murali is originally a Scientist by training having worked in Single Molecule Biophysics, Nanofabrication and Materials Sciences during his Ph.D. During his undergraduate he gained broad exposure to rapidly evolving fields including MEMS and Nanotechnology working on DARPA funded defence initiatives.
Murali’s drive to understand the connection between nanotechnology and biology and his determination to solve significant challenges have yielded remarkable results. During his tenure at Illumina, he played a pivotal role in reducing the cost of genome sequencing by almost two orders of magnitude, from close to $50,000 to under $500 per genome. This remarkable achievement has helped effectively democratize access to this ground-breaking technology, making it more accessible. “A personal goal has always been to impact science, technology and medicine at scale. How do you impact a billion lives? This requires scale and an established platform, and it’s a privilege to be part of organizations such as Danaher, that have the the ingredients to drive such broad transformation.
Murali’s commitment to advancing healthcare extends to his work with younger scientists and budding entrepreneurs. He has a passion for mentoring and serves on the Board Directors of number of disruptive healthcare companies across the United States and Europe, helping in identifying unmet needs in medicine, emphasizing the significance of gaining a deep understanding of the problem and product-market fit, and underscores the value of building a strong team to execute effective solutions.
Find the right people
Finding the right people is paramount, according to Murali. He advises “work with people that share a common purpose, recruit peers that are smarter than you, build technical depth and continue to learn. Depth and intellectual humility are key. Having access to people who have been on the journey, including investors, that understand the end markets and the problem is crucial.”
While Murali draws much of his inspiration from tackling significant challenges, he particularly appreciate the invaluable role of mentors along his journey. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to seek mentors who possess broad perspectives and diverse backgrounds. Murali himself has been fortunate to have mentors ranging from highly accomplished business executives to remarkable technology leaders and entrepreneurs, and academic experts. By blending these diverse perspectives, he has been able to cultivate a well-rounded viewpoint that propels innovative thinking and decision-making processes.
Murali’s leadership is driven by his dedication to to equity, diversity, and inclusion. This commitment is deeply embedded within Danaher, as they take great pride in promoting and fostering an inclusive environment. They actively support STEM initiatives and fund programs both nationally and globally, specifically designed to encourage the participation of equity-deserving groups. Murali emphasizes “It comes down to generating interest at an early stage, embracing diverse opinions and inspiring folks by providing opportunities and making them accessible.”
Interdisciplinary approach to healthcare
At its core, Danaher’s strategic focus encompasses four distinct verticals: Diagnostics, Genomic Medicines, Bioprocess, and Life Science. This diverse range of sectors forms a rich ecosystem for fostering innovation. To drive this innovation, Danaher takes a comprehensive approach, considering the broader strategic landscape, customer needs, and emerging technologies. Murali explains, “When we invest, we look for transformational capabilities. How do you make technology more accessible? How do you open up new markets? Are there horizontal technologies that can enable new applications in biology and medicine?”
Danaher values the immense synergy that arises from collaborating with post-secondary institutions and organizations across the globe. Murali emphasizes this commitment by stating, “Danaher is always actively seeking opportunities to work with exceptional groups globally, as we strongly believe in fostering the innovation ecosystem.” This dedication to collaboration is deeply rooted in Danaher’s belief that by partnering with outstanding organizations, they can harness collective expertise, diverse perspectives, and transformative ideas.
Please join us at the SBME Symposium as Murali dives deeper into these insights during his Keynote Address The role of Biotechnology in advancing Human Health on June 13. We would like to thank Danaher for generously sponsoring this Keynote Address.
Save the date and prepare to engage in an informative Symposium that explores the transformative power of biomedical engineering in shaping the future of human health.