Dr. Fei Mao is a scientist with a passion for trying something new. He received his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Oregon. He is President and CTO of Biotium Inc., an industry leader in fluorescent molecular reagents and Chief Chemist and Founder of Neurocentria, a clinical stage pharmaceutical company founded with the mission to cure neurological diseases including Alzheimers, Schizophrenia and Adult ADHD.
He first learned of cholangiocarcinoma when one of his employees, Laurel Mason, was diagnosed with the cancer while he was on a family vacation. He remembers receiving the text message, and was devastated by the news. Dr. Mao considered her a part of his work family. They have spent many hours together and Laurel has been key in the success of the business.
With his research in creating ultra sensitive fluorescent dyes for gene sequencing, he has been inspired to work on a new line of even more sensitive dyes to help fight this disease. These fluorescent dyes help in three critical aspects of medical science - the basic research and fundamental understanding of biology, the diagnosis of disease, and the pharmaceutical science which helps cure disease.
The fluorescent dyes are like smart molecules that can go directly to cell specified targets and light up. The fluorescent molecules help to visualize the structure and are created in all different colors. The dyes also allow scientists to monitor living cells and study healthy activity versus diseased activity and how it responds to targeted pharmacology. The dyes must be extraordinarily sensitive - in cancer’s case we might be trying to target one cell out of five million healthy cells.
Dr. Mao is extremely excited about how his research, and collaborations, will be able to help future early cancer detections. He has worked extensively with the University of Oregon as well as the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in Portland and knows success rates increase 7- 10 times when cancer is detected early.
Ilumina, a San Diego based company, uses Dr. Mao’s licensed dyes. Ilumina plans to reduce the cost of sequencing down to $100. Dr. Mao believes that personalizing medicine is the key. It is the future of medicine. Instead of monitoring blood pressure at office visits, you will soon be sequencing DNA for less than the cost of an office visit.
Dr. Mao now feels personally connected to fighting cancer. He also feels confident that there is hope on the horizon. This connection to cholangiocarcinoma has triggered his inspiration and research, and he is extremely excited about the future and finding a cure.