As a PhD student in England, I went into the lab one Saturday morning to find that my assay had worked and that we had isolated the first ever house dust mite allergen! It was a moment of affirmation, rather than euphoria, but from then on we knew that the science could succeed.
I became a tenured Professor of Medicine at UVA and had a successful academic career, but I had kind of reached a tipping point and wanted to take charge, have more control, and be creative. The commercial potential of our UVA technology for measuring environmental allergens was apparent. These tests were being used by researchers all over the world to investigate the relationship between allergen exposure and allergic diseases, especially asthma.
It was a logical move to form a company, Indoor Biotechnologies, to market and develop this technology. The company licensed the cell lines from UVA and we were on our way. In 2001, I moved into the company full time and was fortunate that several members of my lab at UVA also came on board.
We rapidly expanded our product lines and capabilities to produce purified allergens and test kits that would help researchers investigate allergic diseases and help companies develop better allergy treatment products. It was very important that we continued to do cutting edge scientific research, to be seen as leaders in the field, and we were successful in getting grants to fund the work.
Our research on the structural biology of allergens has been funded by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the past 10 years and we work with the NIAID on studies to determine the causes of inner-city asthma. Our scientific expertise and technology is unique, which creates a high value proposition for our commercial clients.