With the warming weather, comes mosquito season. I was hoping that the silver lining of the freeze in February would be the slow down or delay of their wrath, but it doesn’t appear that that’s happened. Only a few years ago, the idea of getting bitten by a mosquito was made worse by the threat of the Zika virus that was causing birth defects from pregnant women getting bitten by Zika infected mosquitos. At that point Nuclein co-founders Alan Blake and Richard Crockett started their work on an at-home diagnostic device that would detect such infections early on. They imagined that once it was developed, it could be used for any assortment of infectious diseases. Nuclein set up their lab at the Bioscience Incubator and were diligently working on their device when word of an impending SARS-CoV-2 pandemic hit. They immediately realized the profound effect that their device could have on this crisis and quickly pivoted to the detection of the coronavirus as their target. To know Rich and Alan is to know that, as seasoned entrepreneurs, they go big. Having done well with their previous endeavor, they had the resources to grow very robustly and very quickly. In fact, they grew so quickly that they went from 3 lab members in March to more than we could accommodate at ABI by August when they had no choice to but to build their own lab to expand operations. Since then they have hired more people, made huge progress on their device, raised $14M and have already outgrown their newly built 10,000 sq. ft. lab space. As they expand their new lab space, it will accommodate the remaining projects they have been working on at ABI. We will miss their presence and wish them all the best as they graduate from the incubator this month. I welcome you to listen to Alan and Rich’s story in our latest episode of “Science in the Mall, Y’all” and hear about their past 30 years as friends and business partners (yes, they met in 6th grade!). Here they recount the wild ride of the dot com bust of the early 2000s and the rise and exit from their previous company, Glofish. Here’s hoping that they can get FDA approval on their device soon and let the rest of us benefit from it.
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