How Dr. Dan Nayot Is Revolutionizing Reproductive Medicine with Technology

His tools help differentiate high-quality eggs from low-quality ones to better predict outcomes of egg freezing, egg donation and IVF
Dr. Dan Nayot, founder of Future Fertility (photo illustration: Anthony Gebrehiwot)

Dr. Dan Nayot, a private-practice endocrinology specialist, founded Future Fertility in 2017 with the goal of using artificial intelligence to evaluate the quality of a person’s oocytes, or eggs. His technology—Violet, a predictive tool, and Magenta, a scoring tool—analyzes the pixels of high-definition images to recognize patterns that differentiate a high-quality egg from a low-quality one to help better predict outcomes of egg freezing, egg donation and IVF. In January, the 25-person company raised $7.6 million in Series A funding.

Age: 40
Based in: Toronto
Degrees: B.Sc. in mathematics (University of Toronto) and M.D. (University of Western Ontario)

I thought I’d grow up to be:

A doctor. In school and in the media, it was always painted as the profession that the brightest and most resilient students pursue and excel at, so I saw it as a natural challenge to get into medical school.

The best advice I’ve ever heard:

To get comfortable being uncomfortable. Whether it’s professionally or personally, continuously putting myself at the edge of what’s uncomfortable has made my circle of comfort expand. It’s a game changer because discomfort prevents a lot of people from taking action.

My inspiration:

When I was a teenager, my father opened his own glass-manufacturing factory. He took his little savings and risked it all. When you see entrepreneurship around you, it’s contagious. The idea that there is no script, that you can create something fresh and be bold—that inspired me.

My biggest challenge:

It’s my own impatience—wanting to speed to the next step. But to innovate in this area of medicine, I had to sit back, observe and learn. It’s like playing chess. You have to learn the rules if you want to do well. You have to see different versions of how people play before you can get good at it yourself.

The hardest decision I’ve ever made:

I could have played it safe by working hard at being a good clinician. But starting Future Fertility meant betting big on a new approach—harnessing the power of AI to provide insights into egg quality. I founded the company with Rene Bharti, who went through his own journey with IVF with his wife, and Alex Krivoi, an expert in AI and machine learning. This partnership of clinician, patient and technical expertise is critical to our success.

My version of a power suit:

It’s a fancy sweatsuit—a matching set with a hoodie. For me, a hoodie is critical for deep work. It’s the equivalent of blinders on a racehorse.

One thing that needs to change in my industry:

Inefficiency in reproductive medicine. From a patient’s perspective, the physical, financial and emotional toll of fertility treatments is horrible, but I think the extra kick is the time delays. Everything from getting a first appointment to testing and treatment or procedure plans takes a long time.

I’d like to be remembered for:

Being a creative problem solver. I pride myself on trying to approach things from angles that weren’t considered before. Most of my research to date has been trying to rethink the standard of care. One recent idea of mine that received a lot of international attention is the importance of assessing endometrial thickness through ultrasound prior to an embryo transfer—it’s another safety check.

My current obsession:

To unlock the mysteries of the egg. Measuring egg quality can lead to standardization, personalized counselling and new insights. We’re in the early stages. Once we are able to do it consistently, objectively and accurately, it will revolutionize reproductive medicine.

This article appears in print in the fall 2022 issue of Canadian Business magazine. Buy the issue for $7.99 or better yet, subscribe to the quarterly print magazine for just $20.