Tenant Spotlight

Empowering Women, One Test at a Time: The Endometrics Approach to Endometriosis

By Niki Borghei.

Imagine being referred to an invasive procedure under general anesthesia based on only a suspected diagnosis. Neither you nor your doctor would prefer surgery as the first option — but when diagnostic options are limited, you may have no choice but to go under the knife and hope for the best.

Yana Aznavour and Max Sorokin
Endometrics founder & CEO Dr. Yana Aznavour with CSO Max Sorokin.

Dr. Yana Aznavour, an Ob-Gyn and advocate for women’s health, understands this reality all too well. Roughly 190 million women suffer from endometriosis worldwide. In endometriosis, the tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing debilitating pelvic pain and infertility. The chronic pain can last for almost a lifetime – but despite the severity of the pain, many women don’t even realize they have a disease. And it can be difficult for doctors to tell, too.

As the CEO and founder of Bakar Labs tenant Endometrics, Dr. Aznavour is dedicated to bridging the gap between patients and easy, painless diagnosis. Endometrics’ six-person team, including CSO Max Sorokin and molecular biologist Hannah Zogg, is building diagnostic technology that will allow patients to get tested for endometriosis without needing surgery – all they need is a menstrual blood sample.

The Endometrics test kit.

“While working in the gynecologic surgery department, I saw thousands of women with endometriosis over the span of 5 years,” she says. “All of them shared a common story — years of debilitating pain, infertility, and a complete lack of belief in their symptoms from their families, friends, and even other doctors. This experience inspired me to dive into endometriosis research, with the aim of better understanding this enigmatic disease and ultimately creating a non-invasive diagnostic test to decrease an enormous diagnostic delay for millions of women.”

Endometrics is delivering a desperately needed solution to patients and doctors, but despite the growing need for solutions in other aspects of endometriosis care, funding for endometriosis research remains limited. This is also the case for female-led startups, which receive only about 2% of all VC funding.

“Unfortunately, female entrepreneurs are still questioned about their ability to run a company,” says Dr. Aznavour. “In addition, the women’s health field remains unfamiliar to a broader audience. Women are used to being dismissed and suffering in silence, and as a result, numerous issues in women’s health remain unknown to the general public.”

Endometrics scientist Hannah Zogg in the lab.

The need for change is evident, but as one of the successful female founders at Bakar Labs, Dr. Aznavour’s journey to the forefront of innovation showcases the remarkable impact a single person can have — both in the hospital and the biotech world.

“Being immersed in a community of like-minded, motivated people at Bakar Labs inspires me to put in even greater effort,” she says.

Currently, Endometrics is recruiting volunteers in Berkeley to participate in beta testing and planning a clinical pilot with several clinics in the Bay Area.