Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year®
President, CEO and Co-founder
Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc.
In early 2009, Tonya Mallory set out on what others might have considered a quixotic quest: she wanted nothing less than to change the way medicine was practiced.
Her modest finances were more than buttressed by the enormous confidence she had in her idea. She cashed in her 401(k) and gave herself six months to launch a company that would help her reach her ultimate goal. “Maybe there was a little naïveté in there,” Mallory says, “but I just knew it could work and I was going to do it.”
She raised the money she needed for her start-up at the very end of her six-month time frame. With the help of a $4 million investor, Mallory created Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL).
As confident as Mallory was that she would reach her goals, she says she never doubted that the road to get where she wanted to go would be difficult. “I worked my entire life,” she says now, as she reflects on her success. “Nothing ever comes easy. But there was no way to go but up.”
A native of Richmond, VA, Mallory earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. She began her professional career as a laboratory technician and gained more than two decades of experience in clinical diagnostics and disease management, primarily at Wako Chemicals USA and Berkeley HeartLab.
During that time, she developed the belief that the practice of medicine is largely “reactionary” — it is designed to respond after an event such as a heart attack or stroke has occurred. Personal experiences with the illnesses of her mother-in-law and older sister reinforced Mallory’s conviction that medicine should be designed to help identify and treat the patient before a serious medical event happens.
“We all know about people going to the doctor and a week later they die of a heart attack,” she says. “It has to stop. We have to stop following patients and start treating patients. And we have to create a world where physicians can do that.”