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Meet a Dragon: Rikin Mathur

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Meet Rikin Mathur, a Data Scientist and Product Manager tackling data enrichment at Komodo Health. He shares his experience as a Dragon and his efforts to make data science education more accessible to kids.

Tell us about your journey to health tech and what drew you to your work at Komodo, first as a Data Scientist and now as a Product Manager.

After studying electrical engineering and data science in graduate school at Columbia, I took a big leap and moved to the Bay Area, where I began to get in touch with startups and tech leaders doing interesting work. I got my first data science job at Fit 3D, working on analytics to power body scanners for the fitness industry, but when I came across a role at Komodo a year later, I was immediately drawn to the people and the mission here.

During my interview process with Komodo, I quickly got a sense of the incredible momentum behind the company’s growth and the co-founders’ vision that was driving the team forward. It was clear Komodo would be a great place to learn from people of diverse backgrounds who all want to impact healthcare – and that has proven to be true every day since joining. Komodo is an intellectually informed environment, and it’s a privilege to be in a community where every single person I work with is someone I can learn from.

From the time I joined Komodo, I saw such a strong focus on the products, with offerings that are improving disease diagnoses and drug development. Soon after I joined as a Data Scientist, I started working toward becoming a Product Manager as the next step in my career and eventually took on that role last summer. This new position has allowed me to use my data science background while taking on more face-to-face collaboration with other team members. We're thinking proactively about the challenges the healthcare industry is facing and how our software can help address them. To me, product management is all about brainstorming where and how we can fill gaps for customers and then building that vision from start to finish. I love having the opportunity every day to think about these challenges and then do work that relates directly to policy changes and scientific breakthroughs.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on at Komodo? What made it special or meaningful?

One of my first projects as a part of the data science team involved digging deep into the data we had around a specific kind of lymphoma to identify how many patients were relapsing, in remission, newly diagnosed, and so on. It was really inspiring to work so closely with the data and really understand the numbers of patients impacted by the disease. We also did some work identifying comorbidities of this particular disease and dug into other elements of the patient journey. This helped spark my interest in working with products that would help the healthcare industry better understand patient populations and risks for disease development.

Outside of your work at Komodo, you also wrote a data science book for kids: The ABCs of Data Science. Could you tell us about that project?

When I was little, my grandma used to tell me that education is everything in life. I’ve always believed that the more we are educated, the more we can relate to others, understand the different problems we encounter individually and collectively, and tackle the challenges we are facing as a society. I’m really passionate about bringing my own experience with the technology industry to students and younger folks who may not otherwise receive an education in artificial intelligence and data science.

I see data science as the future for solving healthcare issues and other issues we face as a society. The field is automating so many areas, like self-driving vehicles that have the potential to reduce carbon emissions or data-based products like Komodo’s that are helping drive better approaches to health and disease. I think it is so important for younger kids to start getting curious about these areas earlier, so I wrote this book to make these complex concepts more digestible – with fun characters like Data Science Dolphin and Engineer Elephant. I wrote a blog post recently about the process and goals for creating this book, which you can check out if you’re interested in learning more!

What’s one way your life has changed in the past year since the pandemic hit?

I ended up moving home with my family in Pennsylvania during this time, so for me, time with my family has been a silver lining of COVID.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and former CEO of Disney. It’s an honest reflection of someone who works their way up from the bottom to the top and showcases leadership done right. Iger had an amazing vision for growing Disney’s image over the years, expanding the theme parks, and developing new content with Pixar, Marvel, and so on. More than anything, it’s cool to learn about the values he lived by, the experiences he had, and the advice he has for others. I would recommend this book to anyone – in any career – because I think you could apply his insights to any path you may be on.

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