Office Hours: I'm the founder and CEO of adyn, a Y Combinator backed startup building an inclusive personalized medicine company.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Elizabeth Ruzzo, founder and CEO of'm a scientist (PhD in genetics) turned founder. I suffered severe depression and suicidal ideation on the pill. My doctor was dismissive of the possibility that I was experiencing side effects from my birth control. This encounter led me to realize we all deserve a new standard of care. I founded adyn to be earth's most inclusive and patient-centric personalized medicine company. Medical studies are biased towards males and individuals of European ancestry, which repeatedly hurts our ability to develop diagnostics and treatments for all bodies. adyn is on a mission to make scientific discovery more inclusive so everyone can live their healthiest life. Our first product is designed to help individuals identify the best birth control for their unique biology. We do this by integrating two biological readouts: genetics (read one time) and hormone levels (read multiple times throughout your life). With our scientific approach, we eliminate the painful process of trial and error birth control users have endured to date. Our work closes gaps created by decades of unequal access to medical research and healthcare. Our people practices (including hiring, compensation, and celebration) are similarly designed to close gaps in equity due to historical biases around gender, race, national origin or ancestry, socioeconomic status, age, LGBTQ+ identity, religion, conviction history, disability, neurodiversity, and genetic information. I have a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from the University of Washington and a PhD in genetics and genomics from Duke University. I completed my postdoctoral research at UCLA. Ask me anything about my experience with birth control, my research, adyn’s birth control optimization test, medical and scientific research gaps, the founder journey, building a collaborative and equitable team culture, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us @ElizabethRuzzo!Elphas – please ask @ElizabethRuzzo your questions before Friday, April 16th. @ElizabethRuzzo may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
👋Hi, I'm Mei, a gen z founder at a pre-seed startup. Coming from the experience of surviving severe autism and ADHD, I'm building wealth building app that helps gen z with disabilities to participate in Financial Independent, Retire Early movement. I'm curious how is your research on DNA related autism coming along to see if anything helps my research to make the world designed for people with autism. Thank you!
Hi Mei! What a cool idea! I wish you the best luck with your business. If you DM me I am happy to share some published research on autism although I’m not sure it will be directly applicable to your app (it was mostly focused on finding genetic markers for autism). At adyn we are in support of any innovation which makes our world more inclusive—including design that is welcoming for neurodivergent individuals.
That would be great! I build apps for folks with autism in a variety of tracks like education, future of work, community, and health of course so I'd be super stoked to reading your notes!!
Wow, what a noble mission, balancing back the scales in one of the most essential human rights! I wanted to ask - when did you feel ready to start a company, and what are your thoughts on amount of industry experience before starting a company? I just graduated from grad school last year and am working full-time for the first time, but the startup itch is definitely very strong. At the same time, I feel like there is still much to learn about managing people and product development. Thank you!
Hi Ileana! This is a great question. I spent 12 years working in genetics (a PhD and post doctoral research) before I launched adyn. I’m not sure I ever had a moment when I felt ready but I did reach a place where I knew I would regret it if I didn’t take the experience I had and apply it to my vision for adyn. I believe I can directly and positively impact more lives by taking this risk than I would be able to if I had stayed in academia. While I had zero experience in business I have had experience managing teams. Sharing a vision, setting goals, providing clear and actionable feedback are skills that are learned through practice. No one is a perfect manager, but leading a team with authenticity and treating them with respect will get you far. You’ll never know everything there is to know about product development but you’ll definitely learn a ton by trying and iterating as you build.
Hello Elizabeth! Congrats! As being a female founder in an antiquated industry, curious your advice on best practices with relationship building partnerships? I’m building in the fintech space. Your target audience is building better products for women, that is my mission in the fintech space. What has been your GTM strategy to reach your customer? Have you partnered with other companies to build your base? Lastly, with a product launch, what was most successful getting word out? Organic social or PR? Thank you for your time!
Hello! I support your mission! I’m guessing I’ll have better answers for you in a few months' time (post launch) 😊. In terms of relationship building, authenticity and integrity will never fail you. I’ve learned that there’s no time to fear rejection while building a business. The best advice I’ve received about partnerships is that they are time consuming, so be sure that you focus on those that will significantly advance a key business goal. We are currently focused on growing our reach organically. We want to be directly interacting with our community as soon as possible in order to refine our product experience. We’ve recently started exploring the idea of reaching our customers via influencers and brand partnerships; and expect more strategic partnerships will be critical for expanding our impact in the long term.
Hi Elizabeth,What an amazing story! And thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing the journey with us. I love seeing biotech companies succeed, especially companies founded by female entrepreneurs.I'm really curious about regulatory issues. How does someone in biotech go about educating themselves with respect to navigating the FDA? What sort of partners do you need to navigate regulatory issues and how did you go about finding them? All the best!Christine
Hi Christine! Lawyers. Advisors. Research. I spent years passively watching the struggles of other companies and trying to learn from those case studies. I attended talks on the subject put on by academic institutions & local biotech communities. Then I conducted more research and talked to more lawyers. Regulation is super important for keeping us all safe. It's also important to know how to work with them to evolve technologies and treatments.
Wow! Thank you so much for sharing and for the work that you do! I have migraines with aura and they were worse when I was on the pill. After seeing multiple neurologists, one finally suggested being on a non-hormonal IUD in conjunction with my medication and they have been under control since. But I completely agree that there needs to be a better approach to how we treat symptoms and issues.
Thank you Amber! I’m glad to hear you found a solution that works for you. I’d love to hear more about your experience to help inform our research efforts; if you’re willing please share your story ( with us. And tell your friends about our mission! We all deserve a new standard of care.
@ElizabethRuzzo Hello, I am excited to connect with digital healthcare organizations. A more patient-centered approach to care as shown to improve outcomes and save money. It is a win-win. My experience in local and global healthcare and expertise in product management, data, and strategy. Do you think AI will be more supportive or front-facing related to being more patient-centric? Is this too early a question to ask? It would be great to connect. Thanks! Happy Holidays!! Lisa
Wow, this feels so huge. The initial product instantly clicks for me, as I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t had a negative experience with birth control side effects at some point. And the seemingly bigger issue of women (and other populations) not being believed or having their symptoms minimized is so real and massive.2 Qs:1- Imagining a future state: Will women be harder to ignore when armed with data, or will doctors start to include these testing elements before judging the validity of a patient’s symptoms?2- what’s after birth control? I’ve read a lot about women being brushed off re: ADHD, and also heart disease. Seems like there’s so many directions to go!Thank you for sharing!
Hi Sharon! Great questions and thanks for recognizing our vision and potential impact. In regards to an ideal future state - I hope both! adyn aims to empower women with data so they can make informed decisions about their bodies and health. adyn also plans to arm health care providers with data to make objective and precise recommendations for women. We also hope to help all patients feel empowered to find a different doctor if they are not feeling heard (#endmedicalgaslighting).We see the potential to expand our approach to other medically actionable phenotypes. Once we’ve tackled birth control selection, we’ll focus on other understudied conditions, diseases, and healthcare. As someone who suffered from uterine fibroids, that’s high on the list but we will let our community and our scientific research guide our next direction. Stay tuned! @adynhealth
Hello!I’m always happy seeing Female Solo Founders. Did you try finding a CoFounder or did you decide to go on this journey Solo? How has that been for you? Also, how was it like applying and getting into YC as a solo founder? Looking forward to your response.
Hello Fari - I cannot tell you the route I chose was an easy one, but it was right for adyn. I did briefly look for a cofounder but it was hard to find a good compliment of skills when I was still learning what it meant to build a business. I’ve since pivoted my energy to building an incredibly talented founding team. I also am very lucky to have a network of supportive friends, family, and advisors who have made the experience less lonely than it otherwise would have been. YC’s application processes are well-documented, however doing the whole thing during a pandemic was an unexpected twist! I hate to state the obvious but raising any money in silicon valley as a woman is not easy. Pitching a product to (primarily male) investors who’ve never experienced the problem being solved does require them to have imagination and empathy. These realities are why communities like Elpha are so important! We must champion each other and share strategies. If you’re considering becoming a founder I wish you tremendous success! It’s both fun and hard to learn so much everyday so be patient with yourself.
Hello!This is going to be a sensitive question and it's totally fine if you don't feel comfortable answering, but how did you pivot from someone who is suffering from severe depression to finding adyn? I ask because I'm at a stage where I want to do more at my job, but I'm a very shy person so I don't know how to speak up or how to voice my opinion. Can you offer some insight into how you pivoted to a leadership role? Have you always had leadership roles? I appreciate your time!
Hi KiLo! Thanks for this question and for sharing your experience. Luckily I recognized that a change in my prescription triggered my depression. And I was able to advocate for myself with my doctor. Learning to trust the value of your voice is lifelong work for many of us! You matter, your experience matters, your perspective matters. Not all leaders need to be loud. I’m not sure I have great advice here but I can share some things I’ve done to build my confidence over the years. I became an expert in my field - I spent years studying/applying genetics. I’ve sought out stories of female leaders I admire, I honed my public speaking skills by presenting at multiple conferences, and I meditate. It helps me quiet doubt and anxiety in order to move forward.
Hi 👋Great job with Adyn 😊 I hope someday you can extend the team to Europe. I absolutely adore this area of work. Here's my question, might be a bit too technical. 😅 Many older doctors (from all genders) are extremely wary of analytics as they feel they have to give up some control over the treatment of their patients. Which makes trying to engage them to collaborate with computational biologists and bioinformaticians quite a challenge. Any tips on how to help them build trust in analytics and not making them feel "left out" in the revolution that is translational medicine? Thank you!
THANK YOU! This is a very difficult question. We are also open to tips and tricks here 😊 . No matter what the technology, there are always some early adopters and some late adopters. My job as a human geneticist is not only to conduct rigorous science, but also to communicate how it informs medical care. I think we can do this by sharing and publishing data and patiently communicating what we’ve discovered. We are launching our D2C product first and planning for a slower adoption by healthcare providers. One thing that is important to us is to establish trust: both with our community and with medical professionals. Doctors can reduce repeated visits and use data to help drive decision making. We fundamentally view this as a collaboration with healthcare providers. We will all benefit from a new standard of care.
Computational Biologist doing research in clinical immunology here =) Always up for sharing tips (secretely hoping that the Adyn is successful and that breeds support for translational medicine in Europe 😅). From what I've experienced in working with doctors, is that they are usually forced to be stuck to information systems that don't work with them. It takes me time to conquer them (my mini dashboards to put their crucial data on their hands and in a visual way work wonders 😅) but little by little they do start working with us. Their wariness and fear of being substituted by machines leaves me so worried. All i want is to say is "take my hand buddy, i'm here to help you, not cause you troubles" 😊
Hi Elizabeth! This sounds like an amazing product, and very, very much needed. I've also had a difficult time finding the right BC for me, and I can't believe we're just expected to experiment on our bodies for 3-6 months to find what works... enduring the side effects every day like it's NBD.My question is, how detailed does the adyn birth control optimization test provide recommendations? Is it at the hormonal vs. non-hormonal level? Or can it even recommend between different hormone combinations & levels? (ie: progestin-only, combination pill, low dose, etc)Thank you!
Hi Jesselyn! Thanks for your question. Considering women are on birth control for ~30 years of their life (during which time their body and hormone levels change) trial and error must be replaced with a new standard of care. Contraception is broadly classified as hormonal or non-hormonal. Non-hormonal forms, like condoms or the copper intrauterine device (IUD), don’t rely on changing your hormone levels. In addition, there are nearly 200 hormonal contraceptive options in the US. The majority of these are oral contraceptives, but alternate technologies have also been created to deliver hormones.Our recommendations include all highly effective birth control options—IUDs, the pill, shot, ring, implant or patch and are designed to help you make a selection that works for your body and lifestyle.