Sonavi Lab’s CEO Ellington West: Black Entrepreneur on a Mission to Fight Bias and Save Lives

Sonavi Labs chief Ellington West has not been short of role models, or challenges. Or ones that offered both — like her Black father, an innovator whose microphone technology is in use in 90% of the world’s devices, and also threw her a challenge, or her grandmother who was part of the “human computers” that helped NASA catapult John Glenn into space in 1962.

“My father is my hero, role model, my greatest inspiration,” West, 34, once told an interviewer. The older West is also the one who has set his daughter off on what is currently her biggest challenge — taking to the market a digital stethoscope, built at Johns Hopkins by a team led by her father, that could detect pneumonia, and possible COVID-19, and prevent deaths. Dr. West developed the tool along with a student, Ian McLane, as a response to a challenge from the Gates Foundation but feared the research could simply gather dust unless somebody developed it into a functional, marketable device.

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