Crystal R Icenhour, PhD, is one of the rising stars of American biotechnology. After more than 25 years in medical research and biotech, she was named founding CEO of Aperiomics, a company that harnesses the power of next-generation sequencing to identify any known pathogen (bacteria, virus, fungi or parasite) in a single test. Aperiomics is the only company of its kind and scope in the world. Throughout Dr.Icenhour’s career, she has demonstrated strong leadership in business and science and has dedicated herself to “bridging the translational gap between these two worlds.”
Dr. Icenhour is an expert in infectious disease diagnostics and her mission is to change the entire thinking about pathogen diagnosis. Up to 75% of infections are never accurately diagnosed, leaving millions of people suffering from chronic infection. Aperiomics, under her leadership, has developed a technology that identifies all known pathogens – every bacteria, parasite, virus, and fungus – from clinical samples in one test.
Dr. Icenhour holds two patents, has authored and co-authored numerous research articles and theses, and has been a prolific speaker and presenter at scientific conferences. She has served on review panels for National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University Medical Center’s Division of Infectious Diseases in their Department of Medicine.
Before Aperiomics, Dr. Icenhour was president and chief science officer for Phthisis Diagnostics in Charlottesville, VA, a research and development company focused on development of easy-to-use molecular diagnostics for intestinal parasites. While a postdoctoral fellow at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, she was the first to identify and characterize Pneumocystis melanins.
Dr. Icenhour serves as Chairman of VirginiaBIO and was chosen to participate in the SpringBoard Enterprises 2016 class of women-led companies.She is a member of, Sigma Xi, Medical Mycology Society of the Americas, Association for Molecular Pathology, and the American Society for Microbiology. The Kauffman Foundation and Center recognized her as 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Dr. Icenhour received her PhD in Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine from the University of Cincinnati Medical School of Graduate Studies in 2002. She conducted postdoctoral research in the Thoracic Diseases Research Unit at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine from 2002-2005 and in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Duke University Medical Center from 2005-2006. She has been involved in local and national postdoctoral associations including the Mayo Research Fellows Association Executive Committee (president), the Duke University Postdoctoral Association (chair of membership committee), and the National Postdoctoral Association (2008 chair).
Alvin (Yuan) Chen, PhD Chief Technology Officer
Alvin Chen, PhD, has more than 10 years experience in next-generation sequencing and is an expert in genomics, genetics and bioinformatics. Dr. Chen joined Aperiomics in 2015 and served as PI of the an NSF SBIR Phase II grant. He successfully developed the company’s primary platform, Xplore-PATHO℠, which uses DNA sequencing technology to identify all microbes in a single test. He also leads the development of the company’s information management systems.
Dr. Chen has provided leadership in a number of scientific research projects, and has produced more than 15 publications in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals, such as PLoS Genetics, Genome Research, MBio, Nature Communications and Molecular Ecology. He is a passionate programmer with more than 25 years of experience, leading and participating in multiple software development projects. He is proficient in many programming languages and hardware and system architecture.
Dr. Chen received his Ph.D. from Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2012 and then he joined the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke University Medical Center as a Postdoc Fellow from 2012-2015. He is an amateur photographer, sports enthusiast and avid outdoorsman. In his spare time, he likes to hike, camp, bike and play badminton with family and friends.
Robb Milne Director of Sales and Marketing
Bridging the gap between biotechnology and high-tech sectors is critical to helping doctors and patients benefit from advances in technology. Robb Milne is at the center of that effort at Aperiomics.
He brings more than 20 years of success as a sales leader, his perspective establishing synergy between the high-tech and biotech industries. Milne is tasked with taking Aperiomics to the next level of success and increasing its visibility so the company can help more people worldwide. Milne serves as a member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, VirginiaBio and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
Milne joined the company in January of 2017 and has helped the company grow quickly to build a strong reputation for harnessing the power of next-generation sequencing to identify any known pathogen (bacteria, virus, fungi or parasite) in a single test.
He holds a bachelor of arts degree in communications/public relations from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and has completed training with a number of nationally recognized sales organizations including Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage, Xerox Document University Sales, the Sandler High-Tech Selling System Training and Skip Miller’s Proactive Sales Training.
In his free time, Milne is a rabid football and baseball fan, which helps add to his fantasy trophy collection. He’s quite shocked that general managers aren’t calling him for draft pick or free agent advice. He also enjoys studying American history, learning random facts to help him win trivia contests and live rock music. Milne is also tough enough to have met Chuck Norris and lived to tell about it.
Kun Ji, PhD Research Fellow
Dr. Kun Ji joined Aperiomics as a research fellow in 2017 and is leading the company’s drug resistance project. She is also taking charge of sample management, patient reporting and the company’s quality management system. She is highly skilled and experienced in purifying DNA and RNA samples from plant tissues; and the design, genotyping and analysis of both Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Markers and Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers.
Before joining Aperiomics, Dr. Ji, worked with a number of technology companies and was a research associate at the US Department of Agriculture, Beltsville Agriculture Research Center in Maryland. Prior to that, she was associate office director of the American Art Institute in San Bruno, CA, and an assistant in the academic affairs department of Southwest University in Chongqing, China.
Dr. Ji earned her PhD in cell biology and genetics in 2014 and her M.A. in Agriculture Breeding in 2008, both from Southwest University in Chongqing, China. She holds a B.A. in horticulture and in business from Shanxi Agriculture University Taiyuan, China.
Dr. Ji is an avid oil painter and loves to travel to new United States destinations she’s never seen before. She is also an enthusiastic student of anything related to residential design. Of her tastes in entertainment, she says, “I prefer to watch talk shows to feel that wisdom and humor. I admire people who are good at speech and business management, especially wise women with attractive personalities like Ellen DeGeneres, who is a successful talk show host and a great business woman. She has a grateful life attitude to help people.”
Alexander Larsen, Bioinformaticist I
Alex Larsen is a bioinformaticist who plays an important role in helping evaluate the tremendous amount of DNA-related data that comes to Aperiomics every day from doctors and their patients worldwide.
Before joining Aperiomics in June 2018, Alex was an undergraduate researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he assisted the research lab in characterizing circadian rhythm genes and their temporal effect on long term memory formation. He also utilized histograms and frequency distributions to show DNA, RNA, and protein expression results.
Alex has a strong background in bioinformatics and scientific writing so Aperiomics is a natural fit. “Joining Aperiomics was an easy decision for me and I’m very excited to be here. It’s a great team of dedicated people who are leading the way in using DNA analysis to help people find the cause of their infections even when nothing else has worked. It’s great to be on the ground floor of new science.”
He adds, “Since I was very young, I’ve been curious and full of questions. This curiosity was channeled into science after reading a short story by Issac Asimov about seeing things differently thorough research and experience. Science is one of the best avenues one can travel to arrive at the answers people have been seeking for millennia. With the relatively new addition of computers, we have become able to delve so much deeper into our understanding of the world than ever before. My position as a bioinformaticist combines computer science, mathematics, statistics, and biology as tools to find answers about the vast amount of information at a microscopic level, and how this translates to questions in our day to day lives.”
Outside of work, Alex is highly accomplished in a number of other areas. He is a licensed private pilot and used to fly primarily out of Austin Straubel International Airport and Truax-field, both in Wisconsin). He is a dedicated photographer and recently documented a trip throughout North America. He is a former piano teacher, an active traveler and loves to hike. Alex is a science mentor to a number of young people.
Alex earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neurobiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated from the honors Biocore biology program. He has also taken graduate studies in bioinformatics.
Nicole Seal, Clinical Service Manager
Nicole Seal is a clinical service manager at Aperiomics. She is responsible for ensuring that tests are processed as quickly as possible, so patients and their doctors can get information fast.
Before joining the company in September 2018, Nicole was an ortho tech/ medical assistant at OrthoVirginia, Reston, VA where she was responsible for obtaining pertinent medical information from patients, patient education, and scheduling and assisting orthopedic surgeons and/or physician assistants during clinic appointments.
Prior to Ortho, she was a full-time certified athletic trainer in the Loudoun County, VA, public schools. There, she was responsible for the development, organization, and success of multiple simultaneously running rehabilitation programs and the development of several fast-paced rehabilitation programs and camps. Nicole was a full-time certified athletic trainer at Advanced Rehabilitation in Floyd County GA where she was responsible for the development, organization, and success of the entire Rome Floyd Recreational Department and community outreach program. Before working in Georgia, Nicole spent a number of years in Fairfax, VA, as a part-time certified athletic trainer at both Select Physical Therapy and in the Loudoun County Public Schools.
Nicole is working on her MBA from DeVry University and graduated from WVU with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in both sports and exercise psychology and athletic training. She also is ECSI CPR/AED Professional Rescuer Certified, ECSI First Aid Certified, licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine and BOC Certified.
“I became interested in the health field when I was a gymnast growing up and experiencing my fair share of injuries. I went to school and became a certified athletic trainer. I joined Aperiomics because of the important work that they do in improving health and because it is a very family friendly place.
Nicole lives in Ashburn, VA with her husband and newborn son along with two feline and two canine “fur babies.” She says, “When I’m not working, I’m spending time with family, CrossFitting and enjoying activities outdoors.” Nicole is also a big fan of geocaching, snowmobiling and spending time at the beach.
Wynemah Fuller, Director of Operations
Wynemah brings to Aperiomics decades of experience in sales and administration. She will ensure that the company continues to improve its internal processes and customer service, including working with medical insurance companies doctors and patients. Wynemah is from the West Texas area. She worked in sales administrative positions in the oil industry in Midland, TX from the time she was 20 years old. She also started an online floral business with customers across the country. Besides doting on her grandkids, Wynemah loves going to the beach and catching some rays, antiquity, design and has a great love for her aussie.
Collin Smith, Director of Business Development and Education.
Smith will be responsible for growing the company’s customer base and for expanding its relationships with partner organizations. Before joining Aperiomics, Smith was a highly successful sales representative for Applied Medical Resources (AMR) where he lead sales of medical products, including laparoscopic platforms and a proprietary line of advanced vessel sealing devices. He also built relationships across surgical specialties with emphasis on general, OB/GYN, urological, colorectal and vascular practices. At AMR, Smith managed surgical trials and evaluations, trained new staff, coordinated surgeon-to-resident clinical educational labs, and created value analysis proposals for hospital administration.
Company CEO Dr. Crystal Icenhour, said, “This has been a big period of expansion and recognition for Aperiomics. Collin brings to all of our customers a solid record of achievement and high energy — we’re excited to bring him aboard.”
Smith is the former CEO and co-founder of Dash Analytics where he recruited, trained and lead a team to launch and commercialize an enterprise-analytics platform using geospatial analysis to estimate campus wait times at high traffic customer service counters. The system was later adopted by Kennesaw State University, the Birmingham Barons Minor League Baseball Team and Arcadia University.
Smith said, “I was drawn into biotech in general and to Aperiomics specifically because of my background in data analytics and my clinical interest working in surgical device sales. I am an entrepreneur at heart, having started my own company. The work of Aperiomics hits close to home also because of what I believe was a curable illness of a close family member who passed away. I have a deep passion for this company’s mission.”
Smith is a graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where he earned a bachelor of health science with a concentration in public health administration and was ranked at the top of his class. He was named a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.