At 26, David Narrow is already the CEO of his own biomedical engineering company, Sonavex, Inc., which is creating massive waves in the world of medicine with unique applications of ultrasound technology. Originally from Owings Mills, Narrow grew up as a member of Temple Emanuel in Reisterstown, even working as a madrich in the religious school. Concepts such as tikkun olam have set the tone for his professional goals.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from University of Rochester, Narrow completed his master’s program at Johns Hopkins University and worked briefly in Boston before returning to Baltimore. Recently, Forbes listed Narrow as one of the most influential 30 Under 30 leaders of 2016 in health care.
Tell me about the business that you started.
The whole goal of the business is to bring ultrasound to the perioperative environment, which is a fancy way of saying bring an existing technology that can’t really be used in a lot of surgical applications and empower surgeons and nurses to use it based on software solutions and peripheral devices.
Did you design a new tool or are you simply applying ultrasound to other purposes?
We use very archaic ultrasound technology, but right now without our new technology, you can’t use those tools for detecting blood clots, so we developed two solutions for this problem that enable ultrasound use for this application. The first is a little bio-absorbable implant.
The second piece is the software side — we have image processing algorithms which augment the functionality of the ultrasound so that it is basically user independent. Procedures themselves are very invasive. The only thing that we add to the procedure in terms of invasiveness is leave this little bio-absorbable implant there, which degrades over time.
You said it started from a project you were doing at Hopkins?
The history of it all is that I was in a program with a surgeon (Devin O’Brien Coon) who routinely does these procedures, and we were basically matched together to try to invent a new medical technology. He always thought that this problem was too obvious, and then we realized that there was a really elegant solution to the problem, which was a step up from everything else available. We brought on a professor very early stage, his name is Jerry Prince, who is basically one of the pioneers in medical image processing. The three of us really started the company, and we brought on employees as needed for certain components.
When did you start the company and how has it evolved since then?
All of us first met in 2013; we were in the exploratory, proof-of-concept development stage for a time while it was housed within the university. In 2014, the technology was moving along and it looked like it was promising enough that we decided to spin it out into a company. Ultimately, about a year ago, we hired our first outside employees and have been growing slowly but surely since then.
What stage is it at now?
We are in the animal testing stage. In the product development stage, we developed prototypes of the implant, and it has met our performance milestones. Now, we’re collecting the safety and efficacy data right now to get FDA approval.
Can you tell me about the ROI Global Summit that you attended a few weeks ago in Jersualem?
[The ROI Community] has a really unique and innovative approach to making the world a better place. The whole goal of the programs is to bring together people from all over the world who aren’t tied together by anything more than the fact that they’re Jewish. The investment that the foundation has made is to create this network where people who care about making the world a better place have the resources available to execute their vision. Rather than investing in organizations, they are investing in people, which I found to be very refreshing. … It makes you want to get up off your butt and make it happen.