Genexsure’s founder and CEO, Smita Rao started her career in Genetics over 20 years ago. After her training as a medical doctor at the prestigious Kasturba Medical College, Manipal India, she knew she wanted to dive into the field of Genetics. Here’s her story in her own words.
My journey into genetic counseling happened over 20 years ago, soon after I graduated from my undergraduate medical degree and incidentally, I graduated around the time that genetic experts had cloned the first sheep. (Remember, Dolly the sheep!). I’ve always been fascinated by genetics ever since my first experiments in high school growing versions of cross-pollinated plants and flowers. However, as I pursued my genetics degree, I found the coursework to be too generic and theoretical. It was taking me further away from patient care and I could not see how I would help real people. It was a cutting-edge science that was primarily focused on pharmaceutical companies seeking to make new drugs. I was hoping to learn and apply genetics directly towards disease diagnosis, care and treatment.
Determined to find a fulfilling career that would combine my passion for genetics with my medical background, I began searching for different genetics programs that would fit the bill. That’s when I stumbled upon genetic counseling – a field that was barely known at the time.
There were only about fifteen genetic counseling programs in the entire United States back then – and none in the rest of the world! But this new field was exciting and promising. Soon enough, I found my new home in the genetic counseling program at the University of Colorado.
Fast forward a couple of decades as a genetic counselor, I’ve experienced multiple specialties and various settings. My time in clinic, industry, and academia helped me appreciate what genetic counseling can do to benefit patients in their healthcare journey. It also led me to identify areas where the field could be improved. Through this journey, I realized that it needs to be easier for patients and providers to access genetics services – and that is exactly what Genexsure aims to do.
People often ask me how and why I decided to start Genexsure. I have been in this field long enough to see the inefficiencies and the huge shortage of trained professionals in this field. Did you know that there only about 5000 Genetic Counselor’s in all of United states. During my team, I have seen patients suffer or get a cancer diagnosis waiting for an appointment with a doctor trained in Genetics. Over those experiences, I became deeply passionate in helping people get easy and affordable access to genetics. I wanted to help patients “Be Sure of their Genetic Health”. I’m deeply passionate about our mission, and proud to be part of the conversation about improving access to care.
So that’s the short version of my story – from medicine to genetic counseling, to founding Genexsure. It’s been an exciting journey so far and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next!