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December 18, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Knoxville start-up founded by now 16-year old awarded U.S. Air Force STTR

Just having turned 16 years old a few months ago, Sofia Tomov, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Qardian Labs LLC, now has reached another milestone in her young entrepreneurial career. She is the youngest person I have ever met who has received a Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award.

The Knoxville-based health technology company focused on applying artificial intelligence to heart disease risk assessment received the award from the U.S. Air Force to address a challenge that branch of the military is facing due to a change in screening procedures. Prior to 2015, echocardiograms were part of every pilot’s initial screening. That changed when they were found not efficacious due to the time required to analyze echocardiogram reports.

Why is this screening so important? The high-adrenaline and high G-force working environment that Air Force pilots experience has been shown to decrease cardiac output by up to 40 percent. Since screening changes made in 2015, cases of sudden cardiac death increased, resulting in the formation of groups such as the Lion Heart Heroes Foundation advocating for more comprehensive screening methods.

Qardian Labs will complete the work in collaboration with University of Tennessee Sports Medicine.

Tomov captured third place in last August’s “Student Edition Live Pitch” held as part of Launch Tennessee’s “36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival” in Nashville. You can read more about the student entrepreneur and the company she founded in this article on from April.

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