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50 Most Valuable Brands of the Year 2020

PathogenDx: Transcending a “Century-Old” Practice and Setting the Standard in DNA Testing

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“We believe our technology and products will become the next ‘Industry Gold Standard’ in pathogen testing. We have made it simpler, faster, and better.”

DNA testing is a critical component of food, agriculture, and water safety programs. Testing is used to support the validation or verification that the safety measures are effective. It’s important to test for individual disease-producing pathogens such as bacterial, fungal or viral microorganisms versus the historical practice of testing by plate culture (the famous Petri dish) for low-resolution class indicator organisms. DNA testing can deliver, with very little user expertise, high-resolution variations, and sub-variation among bacteria and fungi. This type of testing is much more precise and results in less waste in cannabis, food and agriculture products, and environmental screening applications.

PathogenDx (PDx) is one such firm that utilizes the best microbial testing technology, creating DNA-based microbial testing solutions that identify harmful contaminants for Cannabis laboratories. The company’s award winning technology (most recently by Frost & Sullivan) offers growers, processors, producers, consumers, and ancillary services within the botanical, food, and agricultural markets real-time data pertaining to the quality of their product. This will ensure a safer product from a human health standpoint and protect crops.

The company was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Arizona, USA.

In Conversation with Milan Patel, PathogenDx Co-founder & CEO

Q. What was the reason behind the genesis of PathogenDx?

The company was founded on the premise to simplify the practice of testing as a whole, which currently is cumbersome, costly and turn-around times for results takes too long. We realized that such technology could displace the ‘classical petri dish’ that has been used for the past century in the field of microbial testing on any consumable product whether it is food, agriculture, or water. To initiate the adoption of the PDx technology, the company devised a strategy to market its technology to the cannabis testing industry as the initial entry market, and then leverage into food, agriculture, water, and ultimately the health diagnostics market.

Q. How successful was your first project roll on?

The first project was to deliver a product that can detect pathogens like E.coli and Salmonella in cannabis in just a few hours, economically and to the standards of the food safety industry. It took a few years to get the product right and required close collaboration with a handful of labs. Because cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic, our R&D lab could not handle cannabis samples since it can’t be transferred across state lines. Instead, we had to come up with creative and innovative ways for labs to process cannabis flower samples into tiny pellets that only included the pathogens in the pellet and nothing else. This is an example of the level of innovation and IP we developed to deliver a brand new technology.

Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years?

Funding was the main challenge in our early years. Being able to fund R&D and commercialize our technology was the biggest challenge we faced. Once we obtained venture funding we were able to accelerate the development. Having a Board of Directors that supports your vision and mission is key to getting funded, and I am happy to say that the PathogenDx has such people.

Q. How do you stay relevant to consumer interests and needs?

You have to have a constant feed-back framework from your customers into your product development process. This will provide the input you need as an organization to build in the product attributes and features your customers are looking for. If you want quality in your product, the DNA of the company has to implicitly have quality built-in, especially in the area of a DNA-based diagnostics platform. What we do has to be better in terms of quality than what customers are using today. It’s not just a quality product, but a quality company with quality processes and ultimately a ‘Quality’ experience for our customers. That is what PathogenDx stands for.

Q. If you have to list four factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?

  • Focus on the mission. You will get the extra motivation and dedication because they see their role as more than a job or salary,

  • Enterprising thinking and freedom to execute. You will get the best of their creativity and ideation and they will bring ideas that no other person may think about,

  • Transparent communication. Telling your team the good, the bad, the challenges, and opportunities ensures you are not hiding anything and they will appreciate you more for that,

  • A learning organization is one that is inventing and innovating. This gives your team the headroom to try different experiments to see if they get a better outcome.

Q. What makes your company stand out from the competition?

We have delivered a technology no other company has been able to deliver. At the end of the day you have to make the experience -- and that is what we have provided -- a better experience than testing with Petri dishes.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be launched?

We will soon launch the ability to test for Live DNA and Total DNA in samples. This will determine if the risk in product quality and safety is still present after remediation or sterilization procedures are applied, regardless if it is in a food, agriculture, or health setting.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We expect the company’s technology to be used in cannabis, hemp, agriculture, and food markets, ultimately setting the standard in DNA testing.

Leadership | PathogenDx

Milan Patel, Co-founder/CEO: Mr. Patel leads the strategic vision, financial health and global growth of PathogenDx, a Scottsdale, AZ-based company that provides disruptive DNA-based pathogen testing technology and solutions for the cannabis, botanical, food, and agricultural industries. He spent over 25 years working with the large public, small private, and entrepreneurial companies in numerous fields from the life sciences, to biotechnology, to government services, and the automotive industry.

Dr. Michael Hogan, Co-founder/CSO: Dr. Hogan’s expertise is in the area of physical chemistry, biosample processing, and genetic testing. He is leading multiple programs in technology development at PDx with special emphasis on building its proprietary DNA microarray technology into the cannabis, food safety, agriculture, and health diagnostics markets.

Eric Lachance, Co-founder/COO: Mr. Lachance is responsible for the overall operations of the company ensuring R&D, manufacturing, and assembly, and quality goals and metrics are met.

Jeff Ryskamp, CFO: Mr. Ryskamp has held finance, operations, and accounting roles at various companies. With more than 20 years of experience, he provides the financial analysis and reporting of the company.

“It’s not just a quality product, but a quality company with quality processes and ultimately a ‘Quality’ experience for our customers. That is what PathogenDx stands for.”