This post is part of a series of five-question interviews with the 2014 FDA Food Safety Challenge finalists. Register for Demo Day on July 7th to see the finalists present their concepts as they compete for the remainder of the $500,000 prize.
Today’s “Five Questions” post features Bart Weimer, Ph.D., from the Dr. Bart Weimer/U.C. Davis/Mars, Inc. team, one of 5 finalists competing for the remainder of the $500,000 prize purse in the FDA Food Safety Challenge.
What is your concept? Tell us about it in two sentences or less.
Our concept is to eliminate enrichment and pre-enrichment using a capture and concentration method. It can be made to be specific for foodborne pathogens and subsequently coupled to multiple detection methods to provide results directly from food in minutes.
What problem is your team trying to solve?
We eliminated enrichment. This is the longest step in food testing and it hinders product release.
What have been your biggest challenges and successes in developing this solution?
Our biggest challenge is scaling the device to meet the production sizes of the food industry. Our biggest success has been making the capture step function in many food types and then coupling it to multiple detection methods so as to be relevant for many industries.
Your team has entered the Field Accelerator period, which includes mentorship from the FDA and participation in a live Boot Camp. What’s the biggest insight you’ve uncovered through this process so far?
The biggest insight has been the rigor that is used to define methods that are acceptable to FDA.
What else do you hope to learn through the Field Accelerator process?
We are very interested in understanding how flexible regulators can be for testing in light of newer genomics and culture independent methods coming along.