Alumni Story: From Dentists to Entrepreneur

Posted on: Wednesday, 06/06/2018

Adam Chen & Doug Yoon

UCLA Dentistry alums and business partners, Drs. Adam Chen and Doug Yoon, reflect on the momentous day when the two clicked over the esoteric questions that Doug had asked during an introductory course in the School’s main lecture hall in the Fall of 1979. But it wasn’t in dental school that the pair came up with the idea for their company XDR Radiology, it was much later in their careers.

Dentistry was something both of them were destined to do. Doug’s father, uncle, and several other family members were dentists, and Adam’s parents were determined to have a doctor in the family.

Following graduation, Adam went on to run a successful private practice. Doug followed his passion for research and conducted imaging experiments in the aerospace industry. In 1998, Doug left the firm he was working for and began conducting research at UCLA School of Dentistry, under the leadership of Dr. Stuart White in the Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology.

The deeper Doug delved into the work, the more frustrated he became with the dental imaging software that was on the market at the time. It was inefficient and expensive. He was still in contact with Adam and in 1999, the two began working on the first prototypes for their dental imaging software. Adam’s practice was the perfect “lab” for Doug to test his software.

“We saw a need for better software that could help dentists seamlessly pull-up radiographs of their patients at chairside,” said Adam. “Our goal was to help dentists do their job better and more efficiently. We were, and continue to be, dentist-centered and patient-focused. These are qualities instilled in us from our time at UCLA.”

After a few years of testing and refining their software, they began introducing it to practicing dentists. It was quickly accepted and adopted by the industry. With Adam’s deep understanding of a dental practice’s needs and Doug’s expertise in imaging, it was a match made in entrepreneur’s heaven.

After incorporating in 2003, there became a need for more structure. They brought on their third partner, a logistics expert, Joel Karafin, who they credit with helping them grow their ideas from a hobby to a company. Today, XDR’s software is utilized in dental schools, correctional facilities, hospitals, and nearly 5,000 clinics across the country. And Doug, Adam, and Joel didn’t stop at software; they went onto manufacture an intraoral X-ray sensor in 2013 and a camera in 2015, resulting in XDR becoming a nationwide leader in the dental imaging field.

“We owe a great deal of our success to UCLA Dentistry and especially to Dr. White,” said Doug. “He is the reason why I love radiology. He instilled in me the importance of doing things by the book. I can’t stress this enough – without UCLA, there wouldn’t be XDR.”