interview: fasha mahjoor, founder of neoteryx and phenomenex
Guided by his entrepreneurial instincts and desire to better the human condition, Fasha Mahjoor founded Phenomenex in 1982 jumping into the complex field of separation sciences and chromatography. After 34 years at the helm of the extremely successful venture, he sold Phenomenex in December 2016 to the Danaher Corporation, leaving himself time to focus on Neoteryx, a company he established in 2014 dedicated to developing novel microsampling technologies that modernize how and where blood samples are collected.
We asked the businessman and philanthropist what drove him to take on yet another challenging but massive opportunity. His answers shed light on what Neoteryx stands for and where it may go from here.
In 2014, Phenomenex was a well-established, booming business yet you decided to embark on a new venture with Neoteryx. What motivated you to take this bold leap of faith?
It was an easy decision, actually! While sitting in a crowded room waiting for my blood to be drawn for lab tests I couldn’t help but be irritated by the inconvenience of it all, especially knowing what was brewing in an R&D incubator within Phenomenex – blood microsampling technology. I decided that day to spin the incubator into its own entity to accelerate the release of a technology that would modernize blood collection and thus laboratory testing making it more convenient, comfortable, and accessible.
You say Neoteryx’s blood microsampling technology modernizes blood collection. How so?
Our Mitra® Microsampling Device, powered by VAMS™ technology, creates a smarter blood sampling event. Precise, volumetrically accurate specimens of blood or other biological fluids can be collected anywhere, at any time, by almost anyone, from a simple finger-stick. This allows for remote sampling, taking collection out of traditional clinics.
Remote sampling opens new pathways and possibilities across drug clinical trials, telemedicine, therapeutic drug monitoring, personalized medicine, addiction recovery, elder care, and the entire spectrum of health and wellness.
Neoteryx has been at it for just over four years now, what makes blood microsampling continue to be worth the risk?
My passion is architecture. Therefore, from an aesthetic perspective, the absurd simplicity of our microsampling devices and knowing what can be accomplished with such a simple little thing is what lights a fire in me every day. Yet, it’s remarkable how much muscle, mind, and science it takes to work on something so simple!
The applications, of course, are what matter here. I’ve seen our technology improving lives for malnourished children in Africa who don’t have access to testing laboratories. It’s helping organ transplant patients live fuller lives than they imagined possible, whether they are mountaineering or eliminating lengthy drives to and from transplant clinics. Our technology is enabling consumers to take a more personalized approach in managing their own health. When I see an opportunity to achieve new business success and more importantly improve lives and convenience on all fronts on top of that, I can hardly afford the risk of not doing it!
Didn’t the company Theranos have grand visions to change the way blood was collected and tested?
I really can’t comment on what the Theranos vision was. All I can tell you is that our products are simple; they speak for themselves! They do exactly and precisely what they are supposed to do, as proven by dozens of third party scientific publications and hundreds of users.
Who are the users of your microsampling technology?
We have hundreds of people using our microsampling technology, all over the world, in the medical, pharmaceutical, research, forensic toxicology, and healthcare fields. And new users are jumping on board every single day. What all these end-users have in common is that they are creating possibilities that didn’t exist before! Clinical trials are going virtual. Potential new blood biomarkers are being researched. Pediatric patients are avoiding painful blood draws. Elderly patients can age gracefully in place.
Can you give some specific end-user examples?
Off the top of my head:, Quest Diagnostics, Ghent University Hospital, Swiss Tropical Institute, Alcala Labs, Exagen Diagnostics, UCB Biopharma, Charles River Laboratories, Altasciences, York Bioanalytical, and Labor Krone. The list goes on and on.
How do you envision the future of Neoteryx and blood microsampling?
We have created a strong culture that will see this technology through the many opportunities on the horizon. My legacy will be to cultivate the leadership and the partnerships, as I did at Phenomenex, that will allow it to flourish more and more as time goes on. Of course, the road to success requires lots of cooperation, collaboration, and support to execute on the ambitious plans we’ve laid out.
I have many visions of what Neoteryx’s future glory may look like. And yet, my ultimate hope is that this will change the world in ways even I never imagined.
Topics: Alternative to Venipuncture