Ishaan Khanna | Lifecell International Pvt. Ltd
Ishaan Khanna is the CEO and Executive Director at Lifecell International Pvt. Ltd. Technically in the mother and child space, LifeCell is an innovation-first organization that strives to deliver the finest preventive health services to make every parenthood journey a successful one.
Stem cells, the building blocks of our body, are fast becoming the answer for the treatments of many medical conditions. Based out of Chennai with a growing presence across 200 service centres in India and the GCC countries, LifeCell International is one of India’s largest biotech companies, providing comprehensive stem cells solutions and meaningful possibilities for families to renew their health and lives. The organization started out in 2004 as an umbilical cord stem cell banking company and has now grown to become a comprehensive mother and child healthcare solution provider expanding beyond just stem cell banking. The team also provides advanced solutions in critical areas like mother-and-child diagnostics, and is making steady inroads into the therapeutic space, all linked to its core fundamentals.
“As LifeCell transforms from India’s best stem cell bank to world’s best stem cell bank there is a perpetual need for innovation and superior talent. So whether it is sci-fi inspired lab research, people friendly sales work or brand love, LifeCell extends its umbilical cord to nurture your career”, says Ishaan, succinctly capturing the idea he is pursuing passionately.
It’s been a rewarding journey so far. The winning team at LifeCell has been steadily cementing their leadership in the market and adding prestigious recognitions to their cap, such as the ‘Most accredited stem cell bank’, ‘Most recommended stem cell bank’, ‘India’s Most Promising Brand’ and ‘One of India’s Top 10 Medical Miracles’.
“As an organization, the pioneering DNA is coded into our DNA. We were, after all, one of the first companies in the country to establish cord blood banking in India. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the umbilical cord blood (that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta of the mother post-delivery and is a rich source of stem cells and other cells of the immune system) and extracting and cryogenically freezing its stem cells and other cells of the immune system for potential future medical use. Cord blood banking is also the foundation of various kinds of therapies and transplants in life”, continues Ishaan.
“While Cord blood banking is common in the west, there are very insufficient state supported resources for it in India. So there is a gaping need gap that we wanted to fill there. This marked the genesis of our journey in India via a collaborative partnership with a company in the US”, says Ishaan, pointing us towards the lacuna that has been begging intervention for some time now.
As an innovation driven team, filling the lacuna is exactly what Ishaan Khanna and his organization has been upto, as they improvised on the concept one milestone at a time - moving from private cord blood banking to something called community cord blood banking, where members of the community have access to a large and diverse pool cord blood units, which is a common requirement. Very recently, the company crossed a heartening milestone with the first transplant from its community cord blood bank for the disease called aplastic anemia in Nasik city, where a child needed stem cell for a disease treatment and could not get it from the local centres and neither did the sibling sample match. LifeCell dug into its community resources and found a matching sample from its bank, leading to a successful transplant and a child who is healthy today.
“India has the largest number of newborn babies in the world, and yet we have a long way to go in mother and newborn care”, Ishaan draws our attention to another domain that demands upending, and fast.
Like all quintessential leaders, Ishaan is idea driven. So how did this umbilical attachment - to quote a concept from his current space - begin? Ishaan is happy to switch to flashback for our readers: “Right from a very very young age - when even the concept of bio-technology was nascent in Indian and the world - the concept of exploring high-end technology in the context of the biotech space has held a strong fascination for me. I am born into a medical family where my grandfather and uncle were doctors, so a clinical and healthcare setting were familiar ambiences during my ‘wonder years’, so to speak. This upbringing strongly influenced my decision to go for biochemistry and biotechnology as career streams. Thereon, I worked very closely in this space in India and abroad. So you could say that I grew up with a passion for healthcare - a fire that keeps burning brighter and brighter in me with every passing day. In that regard, I am very fortunate to be associated with a company like LifeCell which has been introducing a slew of amazing initiatives and innovations in the healthcare space in India. My personal passion is to provide India with the best of healthcare solutions, such as taking mother and newborn healthcare to the next level.”
We are naturally curious about the lessons that this idea-first professional has gained over his journey, and Ishaan happily obliges : “I was fortunate enough to have spent a large section of the early part of my career journey across countries like Australia, UK and then in India. My exposures and experiences abroad actually made me more aware of the dire need to step up healthcare for my own country, and strengthened the conviction and desire in me to come back and do something in India. For a country like India where needs are vast and basic, even a small technological innovation can give huge returns in terms of the difference it makes and value it delivers to lives and society. So yes, I have always feel very committed to this goal.
The other realization that it sensitized me towards, was that India is also an unparalleled destination when it comes to cost innovation. Given our obvious resource challenges, Indians are amongst the brightest and sharpest when it comes to coming up with creative solutions and out of the box ideas answers for ‘everyday asks’. In fact, most of the time, we are forced to connect the dots in innovative ways for mass acceptance. After all, top-end technologies that are available in the West are often not directly implementable in their original avatar in Indian markets given the affordability issue. If we can strategically leverage this talent and channelize this ability - that of building cost-effective and efficient solutions consistently - towards productive national goals, it can give our country as a whole a mammoth edge in the global arena. As a matter of fact, this is something we actively try to practise at LifeCell too.”
Despite his evident achievements - given his relatively young age and vast reservoirs of courage and commitment - Ishaan’s best is, we are convinced, yet to come. So if we are to speeden up the clock, how would he like to be perceived in posterity? This is not always the easiest of questions to answer, but Ishaan characteristically takes on the challenge bravely: “I would like to be remembered as an individual who has engineered a dent - no matter how small - in the healthcare realities of my country. I have heard stories of my grand-father, who was a doctor, of studying under the light of the street lamp and treating patients for free. That has remained a source of inspiration, and I would like to invest whatever I can - be it my expertise, my time or my resources - to help my countrymen out in some way. At some point, I would also like to build the right platform that bridges the provider and the needy in the best possible way.”
“If you have the clarity to follow your passion in life - which is sometimes very difficult because that may mean walking outside the accepted norm - success will follow. It may take time, but it will taste incredibly sweet. So if you have been fortunate enough to be gifted with a driving vision in life, make sure you channelize all efforts in that direction”, is that profound and parting thought that Ishaan leaves us with.
*This story is published by VOH team*
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