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Technology Excellence Award: Biomeme, Inc.

Posted Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Programs & Events, Member News, Newsletter

What does it take to receive the Technology Excellence Award? Check out what Max Perelman, Business Lead and Co-Founder of Biomeme, Inc., has to say as we highlight one of the excellent businesses that drives the Greater Philadelphia region. Join us to celebrate the 34th Annual Excellence Award winners on Thursday, November 17 »


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Biomeme combines rigorous biology and chemistry with best-in-class hardware and software engineering, wrapped up in sublime user design, with the goal of helping customers enact real-world change. Guided by data and a belief in the iterative process, the people behind Biomeme develop elegant solutions to complex problems that demand precision. In short, they can turn the average iPhone into a tiny laboratory. Business Lead and Co-founder Max Perelman explained a little more about his company, the importance of the Philadelphia business community to Biomeme, and future plans.

“Partners and customers of Biomeme span a wide range of industries across the US, Latin America, Africa and Europe,” says Perelman. “We have great traction in health: we’re testing for STD’s in Philadelphia, Malaria and Ebola virus in Africa, Avian Influenza in Europe, veterinary targets in the Andes and Lyme disease in the US.” Beyond health, Biomeme has partners in industrial water monitoring, aquaculture, agriculture, conservation biology and more. High school students are testing for mislabeled sushi. Quantified Selfers are tracking their microbiome. “Everyday users are even testing their own DNA for genetic markers,” Perelman added. Additionally, Biomeme has recently begun work on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract with the US Government.

With such a unique product, the history behind Biomeme is just as interesting. Marc DeJohn, an engineer, and Jesse van Westrienen, a trained biologist, met at a previous biotech start-up. DeJohn had experience designing low-cost diagnostic instrumentation while van Westrienen specialized in PCR methodology. When they saw signs of a coming mobile-health revolution, they quit their jobs to start Biomeme, the first iPhone add-on capable of performing molecular diagnostics.

DeJohn brought in lifelong friend Max Perelman to lead the business in the right direction. “We all have an interest in personal health and empowering laypeople with the same scientific capabilities as a central lab,” says Perelman. “In fact, Jesse contracted Malaria and Dengue simultaneously while traveling in Southeast Asia during college and was hospitalized when local clinicians lacked the capabilities to diagnose him.”

Perelman cites Dreamit Health, the Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, NextFab, and Drexel Medicine Study as various resources and opportunities in the Greater Philadelphia region that helped Biomeme succeed. When asked what more the Greater Philadelphia business community could be offering, Perelman responded, “Use-case prototyping grants for entrepreneurs and potential clients to partner, similar to BFTP’s FabNet grant, but for business models and product trials.”

With clinical trials happening at Drexel University for its STD testing, Biomeme has a difficult path ahead to be respected as a medical device in the United States. Perelman hesitates marketing it in such a way, which would require it to follow multiple regulations from the FDA. Biomeme plans to move overseas to launch its human health tests to prove the sensitivity and efficacy of the technology before returning state side. “It’s a field that’s still developing and these tests may be very accurate, but we’re still learning about what that means in terms of predisposition to disease,” explains Perelman.

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