Early detection of ovarian and endometrial cancers is key to saving thousands of lives each year.
PapGene, a startup based in the FastForward Homewood innovation hub, is advancing the early detection of curable cancers through the application of genetic cytology to routinely collected patient samples, such as those collected through Pap smears.
Founded by world-leading cancer researchers from Johns Hopkins, PapGene has seen tremendous success since it was started in 2014. In September, the venture received a Fast-Track Small Business Innovation Research contract from the National Institutes of Health with a potential value of $2.2 million.
PapGene’s chief scientific officer, Isaac Kinde, is a nationally recognized expert in molecular cancer diagnostics and the inventor of two core PapGene patents the company has licensed from The Johns Hopkins University.
Below, the graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (B.S. in biological sciences) and The Johns Hopkins University (M.D.) discusses PapGene’s startup journey, entrepreneurship, the value of Baltimore and more.
1. In five words, what does your company do?
PapGene commercializes tests for cancer.
2. What are your goals, and how will you get there?
From an early age, I have been passionate about improving public health through technology. I am now taking full advantage of my opportunity at PapGene to prevent deaths from cancer by identifying patients with early-stage, curable disease.
3. Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Baltimore was a natural choice, given PapGene’s beneficial relationship with the Johns Hopkins community and the generous support provided by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.
4. What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?
In our field of clinical cancer diagnostics, our connection to the expertise and resources of Hopkins and nearby institutions is invaluable, giving PapGene a competitive edge.
5. In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
Baltimore offers a favorable combination of investment to developing its local startup industry and an affordable cost of living.
6. If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
7. How has PapGene benefited from working with Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures?
FastForward provides the custom, state-of-the-art facilities we need to develop our technology at an affordable cost.
8. What book are you currently reading?
Built to Last, by Jim Collins
9. What innovator do you look up to? Why?
William Kamkwamba, a young, self-taught Malawian renewable energy developer who learned how to create a wind turbine to address a local power need through reading books available at his local library.
10. It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
The Brewer’s Art.
11. What’s your favorite nonwork-related thing to do in Baltimore?
Biking around the city and on its nearby trails.