Brimrose Technology recently welcomed a new division focused on biotechnology. This is a new direction for Brimrose, which for 36 years had been focused on acousto-optics and its associated applications of acousto-optic components, hyperspectral imaging and spectrometers, as well as on the advancement of new materials. Following is an interview with the director of the new division, David Trudil, who has worked for more than 40 years in the biotech area and is well known in that global biotech community.
David Chaffee: Brimrose has a history of making its own products. How will this be helpful as you develop this division?
Dave Trudil: The Brimrose philosophy is to make something which can be useful and practical to the customer. Research and technology without an application is a dream. We must translate the dream into reality. In utilizing our product integration team and the current production infrastructure within the Brimrose family, we will makes these dreams come true. The cycle from development to commercialization is shortened and the product’s user-friendly characteristics are optimized. The customer benefits from the experience and technology.
David Chaffee: Biotech is something new to Brimrose, which has been in business since 1980. What tools has the company developed that will be helpful to you in this process?
Dave Trudil: Brimrose may be new to biotechnology but it is not new to cutting edge “New” technology. The culture of innovation and novel technology is, in fact, embedded within the DNA of Brimrose. This is a key reason why Brimrose is expanding: They are technology risk takers. Is this a risk actually? I do not think so. “Star Trek” had the “Tricorder” which would measure the health status of an individual simply by holding it near the individual’s body. Today we see that some of the rudimentary building blocks of this actually in development. Sensors are being developed to “see” skin cancer. We can look inside peanuts to determine some chemical properties without breaking the shell. Using near infrared and various acousto-optics technology, stand-off, non-invasive sensing is beginning to be a reality.
It is a matter of time before these technologies see their way into the doctor’s office. Is it 50 years or only 10 until this happens? Imagine you walk in to see your physician, he uses an optical device the size of a phone, or maybe his phone, and he shines a light over your body and “sees” what the matter is with you. Brimrose is a leader in remote measurement and sensing technology. It is the company used by NASA for the space station and probes such as the Rosetta space craft probe. The innovative science explorers at Brimrose are now marrying the science of light with biology to give us a new era of Biotechnology – BioScience for a better future.
David Chaffee: What are some of your early goals in guiding this division?
Dave Trudil: The technology we will offer provides key benefits to our customers. From easy-to- use, inexpensive sensing, detection and diagnostics, to the biocontrol of bacteria, we would like to be known as the solution provider offering cutting-edge technology and world-wide collaborations to address new and evolving issues, be it emerging pathogens such as avian flu and zika to the threat of antibiotic bacteria, we will work to provide solutions which are realistic and usable. The benefits will also apply to the agricultural, food, environmental and companion animal areas. Brimrose Biotechnology will be linked to improved quality of life, safe foods and healthy pets.
David Chaffee: How will your extensive experience in the biotech field be helpful as you assume this new role?
Dave Trudil: Over the last 40 years, I have worked with scientists from the United States but also under past U.S. government-supported programs institutes in the former Soviet Union, Arab Science and Technology Foundation, China, Singapore and throughout the globe. The institutes have experience in human as well as animal issues and provide a unique perspective and in some cases different technology to address the problems that have been identified.
One example would be the use of bacteriophage to treat difficult-to-treat bacterial disease. In Georgia, part of the Former Soviet Union (FSU), the Eliava Institute of Bacteriophage has been successfully using this technology to treat infections since 1922. Recent reports indicate antimicrobial resistance may cause 300 million premature deaths and up to $100 trillion lost to the global economy by 2050. Now, in the USA, due to this increasing concern over antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA, the National Institutes of Health and other agencies are looking closely at the application of bacteriophages.
The NIH has sponsored its first meeting on bacteriophages in Washington, DC, and has listed this technology as one of eight to respond to the threat of antimicrobial resistance. I have been working with the Eliava Institute for 20 years and we currently have an agreement to bring their technology to the West. Additionally, we have worked with institutes in the Far East, linking them with us and the Former Soviet Union technologies. To these ends, we are founding directors of the International Phage Research Center in Nanjing, China. The IPRC further develops the bacteriophage for specific applications, such as biocontrol of listeria for food safety or diarrhea disease for humans, which can then be used by Brimrose.
Another area we are interested in includes the quick determination of safe food or water. Currently if you want to see if water is safe to drink, the approved methods take more than one day. Working with multi-national collaborative efforts leveraging various technologies, we will be able to measure bacterial contamination in minutes. Then you will know if it is safe to swim in a lake or use water on food.
David Chaffee: Where do you see the Biotech division in 5 years? 10 years? What can we look forward to?
Dave Trudil: We are clearly at a very exciting point. The innovative technologies from the past international collaborations are being rapidly assimilated by the creative optical engineers at Brimrose. These forward-thinking science and engineering pioneers are looking for the next breakthrough. Within the foreseeable future of five years, the technology we have will provide customers with a light to address some of their pressing issues in the animal, food and environmental areas. In ten years, we will have greater effect in the human health area. This will include the new technologies from the combined efforts of the biotechnology scientists as well as the optical engineers of Brimrose. Brimrose Biotechnology will be viewed as an innovator, bringing together scientists and engineers to convert what was once “Science Fiction” into reality.