Dahlia Attia-King is a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She is brilliant, eloquent, composed and thoughtful. It's hard to believe that she was a so-called 'trouble-maker' in her teens. Originally focused on becoming a doctor, Dahlia was inspired to change her path while working for a group of genetic laboratories. Seeing first-hand how inaccessible genetic testing is to the majority of people was the catalyst behind PANACEA, the health tech company Dahlia co-founded. We are excited to introduce you to our stylish friend and visionary who is truly making a big difference.
What is your favorite quote or life motto?
I love the quote: “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm. 'The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.’ It’s such a great reminder of our strength and how powerful reframing fear can be.
Tell us a little bit about you.
I’m a south Florida native! I was born and raised in the Palm Beach/Jupiter area and I’m a first-generation American. My parents were both born in Egypt and came to the US in the 1970’s where my sister and I were born. My upbringing was a reflection of my dual-culture background. My middle eastern immigrant parents filled our home with melodic arabic music, nostalgic films, and aromatic food from a culture rich with traditions, but it was often juxtaposed with teachings that are core to the American spirit. Freedom of choice, speech and self-reliance shaped my being, and the liberties inherent to my birth nation were intricately woven with the lessons and wisdom of an ancient culture. I am an amalgam of two very different worlds that somehow seamlessly fused together.
What inspired you to start PANACEA?
Frankly, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would start a health tech company or any company for that matter. I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people. I was applying to medical school while I worked for a small group of genetic laboratories. This is where I first learned how world changing genetic testing could be, but how impossibly difficult it was for people to access testing. Many things stood in the way: doctors were not trained on how to utilize testing, insurance companies don’t widely cover testing and patients sometimes have to pay prohibitive prices to get tested. This results in more than 80% of people not being able to get tested. I knew that the future of medicine centered around decoding the human genome and that starts with genetic testing, but if it’s this hard for people to get tested, our healthcare future looked pretty bleak. Long story short, I dared to believe I could improve this space and if I was even remotely successful, I could probably impact more lives than I could as a doctor. So I decided to put a pin in medical school, and embark on a multi-year journey where I endlessly researched the genetics and healthcare spaces and met many extremely smart people along the way, and ultimately started Panacea with co-founders as a powerful solution to the genetic testing access problem.
What is PANACEA?
Panacea increases access to clinical genetic testing so that people can get in control of their health and prevent disease. We connect people to quality labs, genetics experts and physician oversight in one streamlined, cohesive workflow. We aggregate all of the necessary stakeholders, and bypass the resistant ones to make life-saving testing accessible and affordable to anyone that values wellness and prioritizes prevention.
What is your long-term vision for PANACEA?
I see Panacea obtaining 100M users and being synonymous with preventative genetic testing. We aim to make genetic testing, especially comprehensive genetic testing called Whole Exome Sequencing, available and useful to the masses. The amount of lives and wasted spend that this could save is almost immeasurable and we want to be the driving force behind that.
You’ve accomplished so much already, but to date, what would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
The greatest accomplishment was simply to believe that I could do it- that I could change the way genetic testing was accessed. Nothing else could have happened until I believed that. The second greatest accomplishment was (and still is) to never stop fighting despite the endless failures and difficulty. Believing and doing- the two hardest things to do.
What is the best business advice you’ve received?
To focus all of my energy on one thing: create a great, desirable product that truly solves a problem. The sales, the investors, the growth, even the team all fall into place after you’ve figured that piece out.
What is one fact that most would not know about you?
Most people don’t know that I was actually a pretty bad student. I was a trouble maker, bent and broke many rules and rebelled against authority for most of my early teens. My father cried when I got accepted to college and said “I never thought this would happen” because it seemed that I was only destined for handcuffs. No one, not even I could have guessed that my daring nature would be key to founding a startup that challenges the status quo in one of the largest industries on the planet. Entrepreneurs rarely follow rules, in fact rule-breaking is a requirement, because they are inventing newer, better ways to do things. So, maybe I was meant to do what I do.
When you’re not working, what’s your favorite thing to do?
I most look forward to down time with my husband, especially when he treats me to a luxurious lunch followed by a few hours of leisurely shopping. Ahh, such a treat.
Now let’s talk fashion! How would you describe your personal style?
It would be hard to narrow it down to one style. I love all kinds of styles and my look depends on my mood that day, but no matter what style I’m going for I love an effortless, timeless chic look for the day, and a more sophisticated, polished look for night. I usually go for shapes that celebrate the female figure, but also highlight its strength and power. I’m not afraid to be bold. Love a padded shoulder and cinched waste, but I also like a loose pant and a relaxed blouse, with comfortable espadrilles. However, truth be told, you’ll find me in sweat pants or yoga pants a lot more than I care to admit.
What’s your go-to outfit when you’re pressed for time?
A wide-leg pant or jean with a comfortable cottony top will usually do. I’ll be sure to throw on some diamond studs and gold bangles to elevate the look. Effortless, but timeless.
What’s your fashion or beauty indulgence?
I really do love a well-cut, figure hugging dress. Think Roland Mouret or Alex Perry. No one highlights the female figure better. I do try to be frugal when I buy these dresses, so I often scour The Real Real for these designers. Little secret: If I can’t find my size, I’ll buy big sizes and have them tailored to fit!
What’s your favorite shoe style and/or footwear brand?
Recently Gianvito Rossi and Aquazzura have been on the top of my list.
Victoria Beckham, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zendaya and JLo
Next dream travel destination?
Lake Como, Italy
If you could have dinner with three special guests, who would they be?
Living: Serena Williams, Amal Clooney, Mary-Claire King
Dead: Abraham Lincoln, Marie Curie, Coco Chanel
Follow Dahlia on her exciting bold journey!
LinkedIn: Dahlia Attia-King