Articles Synbiobeta — 08 April 2014

Although there is the saying: If you want it done right, do it yourself, there are plenty of times, where I know scientists wished they could pass off some of the nitty gritty lab work to a third party. I technically have been that third party, as an intern and as a lab assistant, and repetitive lab work is not all that it is cut out to be. Some companies and labs are fortunate enough to have the funding to afford equipment that can run assays automatically, but most labs still operate as they did decades ago. One former biomedical engineering student out of Duke University, Max Hodak, took this realization and formed a unique business plan out of it.

The result is what he calls Transcriptic, which is a startup and service provider that essentially allows for a lab to outsource their assays and experiments. Transcriptic is a remote lab out in Menlo Park that uses automated machinery to do lab work with more accuracy than is possible using a hand-pipette. Automated assays as well as contracting research is nothing new to the scientific community, but Transcriptic’s business model is promising. The company views itself as a step up from traditional Contract Research Organizations in the sense that they are more automated, connected, quicker, and most importantly, cheaper.

The company relies heavily on machines to help run their operations, but the company is not made of robots. The team consists of well-trained Ph.Ds and engineers that oversee the workflow, and that can help a customer redesign and tweak methods if the desired results are not produced through an experiment. As of now their services consist of cloning, growth curves, mouse genotypying, and biobanking. They make each service as simple and pain free as possible with their design, send, and receive model. All details are clearly laid out on their  website. They give the virtual lab experience in the sense that they allow for the customer to track their experiments progress in real time. Having a tool like this is not meant to replace all lab work, but instead save scientists time so that they can focus their energy elsewhere, leading to more rapid progress.

The company is located in the California Bay Area, which is located very close to a great number of biotech companies, but many more are still out of reach of their free drop-off and pick-up locations. Hopefully with recent VC funding we will see expansion, making services more readily available and cheaper to other parts of the United States and eventually the whole world.

 With the new capital under its belt, Transcriptic has big product plans in its sights, and although Hodak declined to share too many details, it looks as if the startup is moving to expand its services and research coverage.

Test out  Transcriptic’s services or read more about it on TechCrunch’s article here, where I got a lot of great information and the image.

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About Author

Jacob Kurzrock

Jacob Kurzrock is a recent graduate from the University of California at Davis where he earned a bachelors of science in the field of Biological Systems Engineering. As an undergraduate he had a wide range of exposure to different labs and companies from the Plant Reproductive Biology to Amyris and then to CleanWorld. For his senior design project he helped design, build, wire, and program a strawberry harvest aid robot. In his free time you might see him brewing beer, playing basketball, or just hanging out on the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv. On his return to California in fall 2014 he will be looking for a job so give him an offer before someone else does.

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