Alum Napala Pratini ’12 Spearheads Diabetes Remission Program

by Linda Lenhoff | October 28, 2021

We spoke with alum Napala Pratini ’12, who received Saint Mary’s Emerging Leader Award in 2021. In 2019, she co-founded Habitual, a company building digital pre-diabetes and diabetes remission programs. Pratini has raised money from prominent U.K. angel investors as well as leading London venture capitalist funds Seedcamp and MMC. She talked to us about her work and how Saint Mary’s affected who she is and what she does.

Briefly, what do you do?

Two years ago I started a company called Habitual that helps people reverse type 2 diabetes through a combination of nutritional treatment and digital therapeutics (essentially an app that guides patients through a six-month long program to change their physical, mental, and nutritional habits). We've raised money from some of Europe's best early-stage investors, built a team of 11 (which happens to be over 70 percent female!), and—most importantly—have helped many patients achieve better health, including reversing type 2 diabetes. 

Which Saint Mary’s professors or courses inspired you?

There are too many to list, and it would feel unfair to name just one! I studied Biochemistry and at the time had planned to go to med school, so as you can imagine I spent 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days locked in Brousseau Hall studying—which meant I was able to develop really strong relationships with many of the science faculty. Above all, what I learned from each and every one of them (as well as from SMC professors outside the School of Science) was the importance of truly loving what you do. Their passion really came through in their work and teaching every single day. 

How did Saint Mary’s help prepare you for your career or otherwise affect who you are today?

Nearly 10 years later, I still tell people about how valuable Seminar was to my professional and personal development. I was really shy as a child, and I vividly remember being terrified to speak for the first few months in Seminar, but it really forced me to put myself out there and to present my ideas eloquently. Now, I jump at the chance to engage in public speaking because it no longer scares me.

Anything else you’d like to add about your time at Saint Mary’s, particular programs that affected you or discoveries you made while here?

Jan Term is also amazing—nobody ever believes me when I say that I took a course on the Chemistry of Baking. None of us remembers the details of that economics pop quiz 10 years ago, but I still remember how to laminate pastry dough—not to mention the incredible experiences I had participating in Christian Service Internships [now Lasallian Service Internships] for two Jan Terms.