Ravgen was founded in 2000 in Columbia, Maryland by Dr. Ravinder Dhallan. The CEO and founder of the company earned doctorates in medicine and biomedical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University. He later continued his education in 2007 by receiving a MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon completion at The Johns Hopkins, Dr. Dhallan accepted a residency position in Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Within a year, Dr. Dhallan left his residency at Mass General to pursue his true passion and goal of solving major clinical problems and contributing to global improvements in healthcare that directly benefit patients. In order to complete his medical training and pursue his career goals he accepted a residency position in emergency medicine at York Hospital in York, PA. He later became an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, MD.
At the time, Dr. Dhallan knew he wanted to make a difference in medicine and people’s lives but had not yet decided the problem that he would tackle. It was not until he had a personal complication that he realized what this problem was. After having a daughter, Dr. Dhallan and his wife suffered two miscarriages when trying for a second child. The couple was stunned at the lack of information and prenatal testing options available to them. It was then that Dr. Dhallan decided he would invent an improved prenatal diagnostic exam.
When Dr. Dhallan began his venture, the only prenatal testing options available to pregnant couples were invasive with a chance of miscarriage or lacking in accuracy. Due to his personal experience he knew that there was a void in the market and a demand for the development of noninvasive tests that yield diagnostic results. In September of 2000, Dr. Dhallan left his position at Holy Cross Hospital and founded Ravgen (Rapid Analysis of Variations in the GENome) with the primary goal of developing non-hybridization-based DNA sequencing methods to allow rapid and simultaneous detection of hundreds of informative coding sequences.
After several years of research, Ravgen published its first paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2004. The paper described how the company was able to increase the percentage of fetal DNA present in a tube of blood from the mother by adding the preservative, formaldehyde. The company’s ability to increase the amount of fetal DNA in maternal blood samples was the key to developing a noninvasive prenatal diagnostic test. In 2007, the company published a second article in The Lancet which presented a study showcasing its ability to use this technology to detect Down’s syndrome from blood. These publications received worldwide press stretching from CNN and Fortune Small Business to The London Times and Washington Post.
The Ravgen method for prenatal diagnosis has greatly enhanced the field of medicine with respect to prenatal testing by creating a safe, noninvasive, and accurate alternative to present methods. Current applications for prenatal testing span from single gene disorders, including cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and the Jewish panel, to paternity testing. All of these tests are based on the same prenatal testing platform and can be done by detecting fetal DNA in a simple blood draw from the mother as early as nine weeks pregnant.
Dr. Dhallan’s experiences in biomedical engineering, clinical research, medicine, and his personal life have shaped the research and fueled the innovation of the company with the primary goal of benefiting patients. Ravgen’s mission is to provide state of the art genetic testing that will enrich the lives of its patients. Through noninvasive prenatal diagnostic tests, Ravgen gives patients the knowledge they need to prepare for their pregnancies and treat diseases at an early stage.