A few quick questions with Mike Hoerres, CEO of Cernostics:
Q: When did you first become interested in molecular diagnostics?
A: During high school (in Wisconsin) I was captivated by the idea that we can harness bacteria to become factories for making human proteins like insulin. No longer would it be necessary to harvest a horse, pig, or cow pancreas to treat insulin dependent diabetics. This was the early days of biotechnology, and I was hooked.
Subsequently, I trained in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and molecular biology at San Diego State University, and following school jumped into a sales career helping researchers in life science do more with new technologies. This led to building and developing sales teams for Strategene (acquired by Agilent), and market development positions at Incyte Genomics and Affymetrix. I was always most interested in the application of new life science technology to improve human health.
Q: Where does the name “Cernostics” come from?
A: “Cerno” is a Latin verb meaning to separate, sift, distinguish, resolve, determine.
“- nostics” is a short for “diagnostics” or the process of examining the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition.
We chose this name because our goal at Cernostics is to change the language of cancer diagnostics.
Q: What experiences prepared you to take on the role of CEO?
A: I have worked in the life sciences industry for over 23 years, including direct experience building sales teams, clinical development and business/market development. Most recently I have had the honor to work for Geisinger Health System. Geisinger is an integrated health services organization (hospitals, primary care facilities and an insurance health plan) widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record and the development of innovative care models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®. As the nation’s largest rural health services organization, Geisinger serves more than 2.6 million residents throughout 44 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
I have also developed relationships with some of our nation’s greatest minds in cancer diagnostics. Check out our Collaborators page to learn more about all of the great organizations and individuals we work closely with each day.
Q: How do you keep up with the latest advancements in the industry?
A: I keep up with the latest advancements in three ways:
First, Cernostics has a world-class set of business and scientific advisors and collaborators. This is by far the most important way to stay current in critical domain areas. For example, two of our scientific advisors include Dr. John Inadomi, Division Chief of Gastroenterology at the University of Washington, and Dr. Lans Taylor, Director of the Drug Discovery Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Inadomi brings clinical expertise in the management of Barrett’s esophagus including health economic modeling in Barrett’s populations, and Dr. Taylor brings expertise in high content systems biology approaches to applied areas like anatomic pathology.
Second, I network with outsiders in areas important to our mission, including diagnostics, pathology and gastroenterology, financing, partnering, regulatory, and reimbursement.
And finally, I augment what I learn from networking with reading what I can in these areas. On my nightstand right now is a book written by Siddhartha Mukherjee called “The Emperor of All Maladies”, subtitled “A Biography of Cancer”. I have only just started reading this, but it is a fascinating look at the history of cancer as a disease over time.
Q: What does the future of Cernostics look like?
A: Cernostics is in a really exciting place right now. We’re smack in the middle of commercializing our first product TissueCypher: Barrett’s, which will change how physician’s manage patients with Barrett’s Esophagus, a major risk factor for Esophageal Cancer.
But our TissueCypher technology platform has the potential to address other conditions as well. Cernostics continues to evaluate clinical indications where the TissueCypher platform can provide actionable clinical information, including ongoing work addressing lung, colon, and breast cancer.