Having a biopsy is hard enough, and waiting for results causes even more anxiety. MBA student Linden Wyatt has come up with a method to speed up biopsy results and has started a company, Optera Diagnostics, to develop it further.
“We all know someone who’s gone home after a biopsy and had to wait weeks to find out if he or she has cancer,” Wyatt said. “That kind of waiting is really difficult. Our instrument can change that.”
Now the business community is taking notice. In October, Wyatt won the audience choice award—and $3,000—at the Cox Business Startup Competition. A month later he was a runner-up in the Rhode Island Business Plan Elevator Pitch competition.
Wyatt got interested in cancer treatment when he was a physics doctoral student working in the lab of URI biophysicists Yana Reshetnyak and Oleg Andreev, renowned for discovering a technology that detects cancerous tumors and delivers treatment to them without harming surrounding healthy cells.
Although Wyatt had toyed with the idea of starting his own business, he realized he didn’t have much experience in that field, so he decided to enroll in URI’s Master of Business Administration program.
“I’ve learned skills in my M.B.A. courses that I use every day in my startup,” Wyatt said. “I’ve also made some great connections through the program—not only in terms of friendly and helpful students but also people who can help me raise money and advance my business.”
In his rare free moments, Wyatt volunteers for the Sierra Club, leading backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada in California, the Rockies in Montana and the Sawtooths in Idaho. “You can calm your brain backpacking,” he said. “When you disconnect like that it gives you a new perspective—and energy.”