Team Spotlight: Soleil Valentin
By Jacob Karsch
Given the collaborative nature of the startup world, a new company is only as great as the sum of its parts. While CEO of BioAlert Technologies Marc Rosenberg has big dreams of developing the first continuous infection monitor, he believes it is ultimately one’s team that helps realize bold goals. In seven short months, Marc has recruited some incredible team members who share his vision, and in this employee spotlight, we want to introduce and share the story of Soleil Valentin, Head of Research and Development at BioAlert.
Hailing from Puerto Rico, Soleil realized her passion for research while in high school in Mayagüez, where she looked into the chemistry and biology of spider silk and its elasticity. She went on to the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez for college, majoring in Biology, and spent her summers at the University of Chicago interning at the Institute for Molecular Engineering. There, she researched on different lyoprotectant solutions for probiotics to lower their high cost of transportation, creating a new solution capable of withstanding the freeze-drying process. The following year, Soleil pivoted to the University of Chicago’s Institute of Genomics and Systems Biology, experimenting on the cyanobacterial circadian clock to characterize key proteins involved in the mechanism. After graduating, Soleil worked for Johnson and Johnson in their consumer R & D Co-Op in an emerging science and innovation team. She focused on developing a new biochemical assay to quantify the exfoliation capabilities of skin cleaners with the purpose of improving products that were already in the market.
With the plan to start her own cosmetic company, Soleil pursued a Master’s degree in Bioengineering from Penn. It was in an entrepreneurship class where she met Marc after working (“struggling,” according to Soleil) on a venture capital assignment with him. The two became friends, and Soleil soon became intrigued by Marc’s idea for a continuous infection monitor that could monitor bacteria proliferation as an indicator of infection. Within weeks, Soleil joined Marc as BioAlert’s first employee.
While Soleil’s experience in the skin microbiome drew her to BioAlert, her drive to innovate in the diabetic arena stems from a much more personal source. Soleil, like Marc, also lost a family member to a diabetic foot ulcer. Her grandpa was diagnosed with diabetes in his early 40s and developed a foot ulcer when he was 72 that resulted in a leg amputation. Due to another infected ulcer in his other foot, his other leg was amputated in his early 80s. Weeks after, he passed away due to complications caused by the infection.
The death of Soleil’s grandpa did not necessarily lead her to the diabetes industry. However, her personal connection to diabetic complications serves as a daily reminder to her of the magnitude of the issue that she is seeking to help solve — her grandpa, along with millions of patients with diabetic ulcers, potentially could have benefitted from infection monitoring technology. Soleil cites her ability to apply her knowledge of molecular and cellular biology to a meaningful product as her driving force for joining BioAlert:
“What excites me most is the opportunity to build something from the ground up alongside a group of people who are as motivated as I am to enact change in the medical field.”
When asked why she is confident in the growth and success of BioAlert, Soleil, like Marc, emphasized the team:
“Every member is committed, passionate, and open to innovative ideas. Regarding R & D, we have a genuine enjoyment of the process. Although this is important for any startup, it is vital for development-stage medical device company like BioAlert, where long hours are spent in the lab and progress comes in bits and pieces rather than breakthrough discoveries.”
With graduation around the corner, Soleil is looking forward to enjoying her first summer in Philadelphia and committing herself full time to BioAlert.
Interested in learning more about our team?