There are currently only two other non-profit organizations doing similar testing in the country—Mayo Medical Laboratories and the ARUP Laboratories at the University of Utah. The two collect billions of dollars annually for clinical testing, Galinkin said. He and Whitaker spent the first half of 2011 studying the market potential and perfecting the test. By June of 2011, they took on their first customer, who brought 89 samples, each to be tested for 112 drugs. But what they thought would be the big launch of a new business revealed dramatic problems.
What Galinkin and Whitaker had not factored into their planning was the massive amount of data that the test would render for each sample. The software crashed as it tried to produce 4,000-page Word documents. The manufacturer of the mass spectrometer had no solution.
“We had done something novel; we had pushed the machine to its limits, and now we had the unintended consequences,” said Galinkin.
Initially, Galinkin and Whitaker saw no resolution to the data mining issue. Then, Whitaker dug deep into his experience, going back to connections he had made doing post-graduate research at the University of Pennsylvania and MIT during the 1980s. Within six months, Whitaker had put together a team to develop software that would offer accessible and understandable data.
“Now, we had it all,” said Whitaker. “We had a large market for our product, the machines to do the tests, the software to produce reports and the scientific and business expertise. The project had legs.”
During 2012, the project quickly expanded from testing hundreds of samples to testing thousands of samples. Based on this growth and with
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