We talked to Elia Brodsky of Pine Biotech about genomics and computational biology.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Elia Brodsky: We are doing fine, taking precautions on the virus, and educating ourselves on the epidemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Pine Biotech.
Elia Brodsky: I am one of the co-founders from a business background being drawn by the opportunities in Genomics, Biotechnology, and Precision Medicine. I was able to secure startup funding for the company making decisions about its strategy and working closely with research collaborators on product development.
How does Pine Biotech innovate?
Elia Brodsky: We offer research support and training in genomics and computational biology. Many of our collaborators are now involved in COVID-19 research, drug and vaccine development. As a result of this pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of people from all backgrounds interested in genomic and health data that will help us understand how this virus is spreading, potentially leading to novel insights and strategies for intervention. Our team has adopted this trend to encourage users to try novel evolutionary analysis pipelines and multi-omics studies related to COVID-19 SARS-COV2 pathogen and the infection it causes. We will continue to leverage citizen science and expertise of our academic collaborators to demonstrate the potential bioinformatics and data science plays in all life science research, digital health, and pharmaceutical industries.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Elia Brodsky: We are able to provide most of our services online and are encouraging many of our partners, clients, and users to develop computational skills helping study the virus and propose novel interventions. As a result of online learning at universities, schools, and colleges, the digital data analysis will have a major impact on those who planned to attend training in class or work on wet-lab experiments. As a result, we were able to capitalize on the current pandemic and surpass our expectations on revenue and public engagement.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Elia Brodsky: We had to make decisions about investing in novel technologies that are positioning us at the forefront of COVID-19 research and are helping thousands of users around the world develop computational skills to make more effective use of the collected data.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Pine Biotech in the future?
Elia Brodsky: In these stressful times, we have to find a balance between responsibilities, vision, and ambition on one side and commitment to personal and public safety on the other. This stress is common among startups dealing with public health. Personally, this means a great appreciation of relationships with the team and flexibility to offer work from a home, flexible schedule, and openness to a change in personnel roles.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Elia Brodsky: Dealing with training in the domain of data sciences, many of our customers compare us to such players as Coursera, EdX, and Udacity. On the research side, we compete with large companies like Seven Bridges and DNA Nexus.
Your final thoughts?
Elia Brodsky: The new challenges we face in this pandemic are uniting companies and academia to work together and develop solutions that no one thought were possible. The influx of data and readiness from the general public and citizen scientists alike is an encouraging trend that highlights how international collaboration can help address some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.
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