What’s the story behind why you founded BioROSA Technologies?
Going back to the day I was born – I was born premature and was in the neonatal intensive care unit for the first 6 to 8 months of my life. I think it helps define some of the psychological attributes of who I am and advocates that I’m very much a fighter for anything I care deeply about.
I was fortunate to be able to look after a friend’s brother who has a severe form of autism during my junior and senior years of high school. He could not socially communicate well, was prone to irritability and aggression, and if he had an outburst he would lose control. I became interested in the way biological problems impact behavioral problems. From 2010, I’ve been able to work specifically with children with autism and their families.
Why did you gravitate towards this area of research?
Through my early experiences and by working with hundreds of families affected by autism within a clinical research capacity. You can’t help but want to do something once you’ve been exposed to this community and see what these families deal with on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t matter your race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status – none of that matters. We’re dealing with a fundamental human problem and there’s so much that needs to be done. All my past experiences built the foundation for the passion and vision needed in order to effectively make large amounts of change for this population. I feel that this has been a driving force, beyond my control, which has made me realize my calling.
How did you go about the process of creating your business plan and strategy?
It was problematic as academia moves slowly. Funded through grants, within a clinical sense, for every patient we had a positive impact on there were countless others that we couldn’t help. I had some friends that introduced me into entrepreneurism and that was a catalytic moment of change.
I was able to find my business partner, Marie Causey, and it has been the best decision ever. She has been and done this before, so has the experience of taking interesting academic findings and turning them into durable commercial successes.
What are the biggest challenges facing BioROSA Technologies right now?
In terms of leadership, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Being a first-time entrepreneur, you need to be able to listen to others and have an introspective outlook. I try to listen across the board to our investors, the autism community and patient advocacy organizations. Active listening without any doing is empty. You need to take the information and ensure you’re developing products to solve the needs of the community.
For the business, you need to be able to take your learnings and apply them over the next 12 months. Right now, it’s heads down, making sure that our clinical trial goes according to plan and that we hit our enrollment goals. Our biggest challenge will be to make sure that the studies have all the resources they need and we’re available to assist with any problems. We have to make sure our morale remains high in our fight achieve our mission for this population.
What are you most optimistic about right now?
Early detection and intervention can lead to profound impacts, but you need the right tools. For us at BioROSA, success will be in the creation of a highly reliable, accurate and scalable, diagnostic test that will allow for earlier detection over what is currently available today. It will allow for children to have access when they’re most effective to ensure that all children have the best possible chance.
We’re working in partnership with groups to develop new treatments and therapies, for new ways to try and address autism behavioral symptoms. I think certain microbiome treatments may be developed, and I am optimistic BioROSA will be part of that development story.
Is there anything within your journey you would change?
All my experiences have made me who I am, so I wouldn’t want to do anything over again.
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