Anand Padmanabhan never thought he’d be an entrepreneur.
But while working as a physician and scientist at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), he discovered a new way to diagnose a sometimes life-threatening blood clotting complication called heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT).
Padmanabhan initially tried to get another company to license the technology but faced resistance. Rather than let the idea go, he formed Retham Technologies LLC in 2017 along with Daniel Sem, who is temporarily serving as the company’s CEO.
“It has a very high potential for patient impact, and I wouldn’t have been comfortable with myself if I hadn’t given it a shot,” Padmanabhan said. “I realized that no one else is going to move it forward — it’s just me or no one.”
“Retham” means “blood” in Padmanabhan’s native language of Tamil, which is spoken in southern India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, he said. Padmanabhan attended medical school in India before moving to the U.S. to earn a doctorate in biochemistry from Brown University. He then completed his medical residency at Columbia University in New York City and his clinical fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.
Padmanabhan became interested in HIT research after treating patients suffering from the disease while working for MCW. Depending on where their clots form, patients with HIT can experience strokes or require amputations, among other symptoms.
Crucial to the success of Retham Technologies was the team’s discovery of a method for stabilizing blood platelets, which are a key ingredient in their test. The company intends to make blood testing kits that are shelf-stable and distribute to hospitals across the country. Padmanabhan said the kits could hit the market in two to three years.