Employee Spotlight: Dan Inglese, Research Associate

 

Highlighting our dedicated employees who bring both their experience and passions to Imagion Biosystems: 

What experience do you bring prior to joining IB? 

I bring a diverse array of technical laboratory practices stemming from 6 years of R&D in oncology, mainly working with patient-derived xenograft models and drug therapeutics. I have experience working for larger corporations as well as smaller start-ups where I hope to ease our transition from start-up to industry-size as we continue to grow and become more established.

What drew you to join IB? 

After working at UCSD’s Moores Cancer Research Center consenting cancer patients for clinical research, I recognized the urgency for a way to detect cancer in its early stages. We are all at the mercy of lost loved ones from these hidden diseases that don’t make their presence known until it’s too late. I stumbled onto Imagion’s plate courtesy of a past manager. It took all of a few seconds to realize how special of an opportunity this is. After being briefed on the team’s goals – using targeted iron-oxide nanoparticles to detect cancer in early stages drastically decreasing cancer mortality rates – I knew this is where I needed to be. Revolutionary minds at work.

What are your main goals in your position? 

I joined this team to provide safety and toxicology data by thoroughly testing our pipeline before going into clinical trials. Once in clinical trials, I provide tissue analysis from patients consented in Australia using our patented MRX device. As these are important steps in our project development, I aim to provide top-quality research practices and results to collaborate on the direction of these projects, and the ones to come. As our company grows, I hope to grow with it to better learn the mechanisms at play contributing to a successful biotech.

What are your challenges in your position and how do you plan to overcome them?

As one can imagion, excuse the pun, my backbone in this industry is biology. I knew nothing about nanoparticles except Tony Stark used them for his suits in Iron Man 3. Well, that was nanotechnology, so I really didn’t know much about nanoparticles. It was a lot to take in for the first few months and I still have a long way to go. However, I only see the use of nanoparticles increasing dramatically in the future – from vaccine development to targeted therapeutic deliverables, to early cancer diagnosis, and to who knows what else. I work and learn on the job every day and this increased exposure will, in time, mold me into the first nanoparticle man ever! I never would have thought this is the field I would be in today and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I come from mostly a large corporation setting where daily processes are usually fixed and rigid. Very little freedom and independence in how you conduct experiments. i.e. This is how a bigger system can be more efficient with higher throughput. Makes sense. When you’re a small team, you’re given the opportunity to be a more versatile and dynamic player in the game. I was hired for a specific set of skills I possess, I’m happy to say that makes up 50% of what I do today. I look forward to increased exposure of unfamiliar skillsets in this ever-changing biotech environment. I also feel immense ownership and satisfaction for providing pre-clinical data to ultimately dismiss or push a project into clinical.

What do you like to do outside of work? 

I wouldn’t say I have any one hobby I stick to but one of my favorite things to do is go on backpacking trips. It’s hard to dedicate time off for this but my most recent trip was to Colorado hiking Mount Sneffels which is a 14k foot peak with my cousin. The most surreal scenery I’ve seen. We didn’t make the summit due to an uncomfortable scramble terrain with full exposure down the mountain, but we will be back to get it done. I have done trips around Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Big Sur over the last 2 years and got the poison oak to prove it all.

I would also say I sink a decent amount of time into the stock market. I’ve been trading for about 5 years now but still understand there is so much to learn. It was an unanticipated interest that took hold as soon as I started making money after graduating college. I think back to the days – it was 2013, I was a sophomore, my roommates and I were talking about investing in Bitcoin, Tesla, Amazon, and Microsoft. Well, talking about it did us no good. We were also broke so not much we could do there. The past is the past. Can only ever look forward!

Where do you see Imagion Bio’s opportunities are?

Our nanoparticles have many characteristics in their makeup like hydrodynamic size, charge, polydispersity, iron-oxide content, targeted antibody loading, and more. The human body is very complex – it has innate immune reactions to flush foreign substances and numerous tissue types with different porosities, to which we are trying to get our nanoparticles to diffuse into or bind to. On top of that, each cancer type is located within all of these various tissue types and they also have their own characteristics of porosity, density, and vesicle development. This screams specificity.

We are still unable to create an exact replica of the same nanoparticle. There will always be some variability throughout the synthesis process from core production to conjugation. If we can identify the resources needed to finely tune the synthesis process, we can test all variables mentioned above. I believe we then would be able to develop highly specific nanoparticles for targeted binding for any cancer type we are interested in.

Any certifications, awards, or other associations to mention? 

SCUBA certification! Has nothing to do with work but is a truly meditative experience.

Anything else you want to add about yourself, your role, or the IB company?

I’m very excited for the future of Imagion Biosystems and I feel extremely lucky to be part of this family. Change is coming. Watch out cancer, we’re on your coattail!

 

Connect with Dan on LinkedIn