Santosh Iyer is originally from Toronto, Canada, and pursued his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Engineering Science and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto.  He is currently an EC student and will graduate with the Class of 2020.  Post HBS, Santosh plans to pursue product management and business development roles within healthcare startups, and/or work in strategy and investing for early-stage health care VC funds. 

Autonomous surgical robots, health care artificial intelligence, and AR/VR surgery:  what was once science fiction now helps doctors perform humanly-impossible procedures with precision, accuracy, and consistency. I work on commercializing science and building businesses around these technology paradigms to democratize high-quality surgical care to billions around the world.

My fascination with robotics and medicine began with a high school science fair project in which I used LEGOs to build an intelligently actuated tool for precision brain biopsy.  My inspiration came from cutting-edge research conducted at Johns Hopkins University, where surgeons used tele-operated robotic instruments to perform minimally invasive cardiac bypass surgery.  The idea that novel engineering techniques could be used for medical purposes fascinated me and I sought to build smart devices for other anatomical and physiological needs. While LEGO provided an easy medium to accomplish this vision, through this process, I discovered how medical innovation could harness big picture thinking, creativity, and problem solving to improve the lives of others. This experience was so transformational that I started my own non-profit, the Medical Device Hatchery, to help other aspiring high school students use the same LEGO-based clinical design experience to shape their own professional endeavors in STEM. 


LEGO Surgical Robot for Automated Brain Biopsy and Tumor Removal.  Image courtesy of the Medical Device Hatchery. 

After completing my undergraduate and graduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto, I worked on motion control and guidance algorithms to help robots intelligently operate on beating hearts, the lungs, and brain. My Master of Science (MS) degree helped me develop a vernacular for technical concepts in robotics, cellular biology, human anatomy, and computer science. With this knowledge, I was able to relevantly synthesize literature and convey complex concepts to engineers, surgeons, and CEOs. 

At HBS, I have been able to complement my background in science and engineering with marketing, finance, strategy, and leadership.  Together, having an MS and an MBA will help me boldly pursue health care moonshots, de-risking technical and commercial milestones to obtain product-market fit and unlock long-term growth. 

If I had had the opportunity to enroll in the MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program at Harvard, I would have been thrilled to do so.  Having the ability to converse with and manage clinical, engineering, and business audiences is critical during the ideation and growth phase of any new life science venture.  With this combined skillset, you serve as an invaluable cross-functional interface, balancing the needs of various stakeholders in and out of the organization. Without both an MS and MBA, it would have been difficult for me to pursue consulting and venture capital roles in early stage surgical innovation companies, where technical and business acumen are crucial. 

During my RC year, I consulted with Activ Surgical, a Boston-based startup company that enables imaging and machine guidance for intelligent surgery.  I provided oversight on upstream marketing, technical product development, and clinical / corporate partnerships, which positioned the company to pursue a successful Series A round this summer. 

This summer, I’m working at Miraki Innovation, a Medtech investment and development firm based in Harvard Square, to conceptualize and commercialize paradigm-shifting technologies in surgery. My background in biomedical engineering and business has enabled me to holistically: 

  • Due diligence in-house IP 
  • Patent, prototype and commercialize early concepts 
  • Assess strategic industry and academic partnerships 
  • Road map and value life science and technology opportunities for fundraising and investing 

Students in the MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program are equipped with the skills to steward a venture from benchtop to patient.  This is an extremely unique program that will undoubtedly have a broader impact on society.  I look forward to meeting the inaugural Class of 2022!