Transitioning From Scientific Research Into The Biotech Industry with Dr. Crystal Icenhour – Ep #66


Dr. Crystal Icenhour is the founding CEO of Aperiomix, a precision infection testing company at the intersection of high tech and biotech. Aperiomics is a service company identifying every known bacteria, DNA virus, parasite, and fungus in one test. This technology is a novel combination of genomics and informatics transforming infectious disease diagnostics and saving lives.

Dr. Icenhour is also the Principal of Icenhour Biotech, a consulting firm focused on providing support to the biotechnology community in the areas of leadership, innovation, and commercialization. Her professional goal is to bridge the translational gap between the worlds of business and science. She’s committed to improving patient health through better infectious disease testing.

Dr. Icenhour earned her Ph.D., Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine in 2002 from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She served as a senior postdoctoral fellow at Duke University Health System and a research fellow at the Mayo Clinic. She also attended the University of Tulsa where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [01:00] Mark introduces his guest, Dr. Crystal Icenhour
  • [02:51] Dr. Icenhour explains about why scientist struggle to commercialize their work
  • [05:03] What made Dr. Icenhour interested in innovating pathogen diagnostic and gin fighting infection
  • [07:27] Dr. Icenhour talks about why she’s interested in many different fields
  • [11:03] Dr. Icenhour’s three-piece advice for people who want to start or join a science-based company
  • [13:33] Dr. Icenhour shares how you can build a good network through conversations that connect people to you at a personal level
  • [17:14] Dr. Icenhour describes the biotech industry in Virginia and where she can see it heading
  • [22:18] Dr. Icenhourl talks about her career highlights and the challenges she faced along the way

Connect with Crystal Icenhour

The Struggle to Commercialize Science

There is a fundamental difference between the scientific work that is done in an academic setting and one that can be used for purposes of business and entrepreneurship. While the ultimate goal of academic scientific research is the pursuit of knowledge, it’s quite a different ball game when you put science in the world of business. Because science in business means serving the needs and wants of the market. According to Dr. Crystal Icenhour the transition of turning scientific research into a viable market product can be a struggle for the many scientists who are able to make breakthroughs but lack funding and support.

Dr. Icenhour is passionate about bridging the translational gap between science and business and her scientific accomplishments and entrepreneurial milestones offer a unique success story of the transition from the discovery of knowledge into application for profits in business. Balancing your time, identifying your skills and your strengths are crucial in making it work but when you do get the work going, the business will start growing.

Gaining confidence to make the transition from academics to corporate

The idea of transitioning from the space of academic and research science to using science for entrepreneurial purposes can be daunting. But with the right network and support, you can make an easy transition and find a way to meld them together to create a unique space for innovations that can help a lot of people. And one of the key elements to building that network is by opening yourself up to the prospect of meeting new people who will resound with the vision you have in mind.

Networking can be difficult for introverts but it’s not impossible. In fact, introverts have the unique capacity of holding key leadership roles because they have the ability to listen well and to empathize with people which is very important when you want to bring people into your fold. Build your network by creating conversations that bring a more personal side of you that encourages connections and flavor discussions with just the right amount of information that will keep the person interested in making the conversation last longer.

The Outlook of The Biotech Industry in Virginia 

STEM professionals will be pleasantly surprised that the biotech industry in Virginina is more robust than what people perceive it to be. There is so much room for growth and innovations in biotechnology, particularly in pharmaceutical innovations and in addressing veteran medical concerns. There is so much that can be done in Virginia and the industry there is looking to expand more to get under the radar of investors who can help make the industry flourish even more.

Learn more about Dr. Crystal Icenhour’s experiences, expertise, and passion in this week’s episode of When Science Speaks.

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