How Gianina found the right technical expertise for her venture…

Gianina, a Bioscience Enterprise Masters student at the University of Cambridge has been working on a project to drastically improve the supply of a crucial immunoprotein for the development of antibodies and vaccines. Surprisingly, the protein is currently exclusively harvested from an obscure mollusc, creating a number of supply issues.

Gianina and her co-founders are working on a method to change that, so that the protein in question can be grown safely and efficiently in labs all over the world.

The project has a lot of things going for it, including a strong founding team with genomic, drug development and molecular biology experience, but what they really wanted was an independent technical opinion on their proposed method from someone with years of protein expression experience across a number of specific organisms.

Gianina went to a number of relevant conferences and networking events, but you can’t just stand up in the middle of the room and say “who knows about protein expression in organism X?”.

She concluded that this wasn’t a particularly time or cost-efficient way of trying to find the expert input she was looking for. So she tried Biotechspert — a new online platform for specialist life sciences knowledge exchange.

An initial search lead her straight to Stephen Dolan, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Biochemistry, who had the precise protein expression expertise and depth of experience that she was after.

As a subscriber to the Cambridge Minds Group, an expert panel of over 60 Cambridge Post-docs, she was able to book a call with Stephen for free. She said the experience and the advice she received “surpassed all of her expectations” and that she “never thought it would be possible to get that much relevant information in just a half an hour call”.

Stephen was able to confirm the technical feasibility of the proposed method, identified a number of specific technical hurdles, and even offered to carry out an initial proof-of-concept experiment. Overall a fantastic outcome!

We hope Biotechspert and Cambridge Minds can continue to help many more founders, investors and consultants bridge their internal knowledge gaps and move forward with their projects.