Ravi, physicist-turned-genome researcher cofounded Girihlet

Anitha Jayaprakash and Ravi Sachidanandam are the co-founders of Girihlet. Girihlet works on profiling the T cell receptor repertoire accurately to develop an understanding of the immune system. An accurate view of the repertoire is a window into the immune system and the health of an individual. Diagnostic and therapeutic applications can be derived from this technology. What Anitha and Ravi are doing was considered impossible or next to impossible when it comes to understanding the fundamental question of how do we know if we are healthy? Anitha is coming to Startup Iceland.


I am about as smart as a door knob when it comes to genetics, biology or anything to do with what Anitha and Ravi are doing. But I am so excited that if they are able to uncover the impossible corners of our genome sequences using technology, we could possibly get a better understanding of how our immune system works. For those of you wondering what heck I am rambling about read this

Without an immune system, a human being would be just as exposed to the harmful influences of pathogens or other substances from the outside environment as to changes harmful to health happening inside of the body. The main tasks of the body’s immune system are:

  • Neutralizing pathogens like bacteriavirusesparasites or fungi that have entered the body, and removing them from the body
  • Recognizing and neutralizing harmful substances from the environment
  • Fighting against the body’s own cells that have changed due to an illness, for example cancerous cells

The immune system is one of the most dynamic components of our body. They reflect who you are , what you eat, your environment etc. Understanding this holds the key to many complex diseases including cancer, allergies, infections and autoimmunity.  What Anitha and Ravi are doing through their unique T cell sequencing assays will enable us to understand the immune system better and be able to measure a person’s health status.

The immune system is the key to almost every response your body has to disease and your body’ response, a deeper understanding of that system at the genomic level is quite revolutionary. All of these things were not possible before because of the cost of computation was exorbitant. This is the other reason I am really excited, the developments in computation has exponentially increased the chances of us discovering truths about our body, health, disease and maybe even the universe. Ok, ok, let me not get ahead of myself. I think the cross section of biology and technology especially software defined systems and simulations is becoming a lot more material.

Anitha did not take the traditional route, she saw a fork and wanted to do real work that actually improved the future. A theme that you should have caught on if you have been a regular reader of this blog. I think the way to change the future is to work on it and build it. They have raised funding, have customers for their sequencing process and are building a startup that can change how we see human health. Here is an excerpt from the article in Nature about smart post-doctoral professionals shunning the academic route for startups.

When Anitha Jayaprakash earned her genetics PhD from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City in 2014, she saw scientists all around her stuck in postdocs. Many had no hope of finding their own tenure-track academic jobs — a phenomenon that Perlstein has dubbed the “postdocalypse”. “It gave me a very depressing feeling about the whole academic space,” says Jayaprakash. So she started Girihlet, a genetic-sequencing company in Berkeley, California, that has received funding from IndieBio and other investors.

I am looking forward to the conversation and discussion with Anitha and hopefully it helps other who are looking to change the future take inspiration from that discussion and take the road less travelled.