Toxicology and genetics laboratory finding success with the help of University graduates

Reno company provides cutting edge clinical toxicology and pharmacogenetics testing to health care providers across the nation

Toxicology and genetics laboratory finding success with the help of University graduates

Reno company provides cutting edge clinical toxicology and pharmacogenetics testing to health care providers across the nation

MD Labs is a growing company in northern Nevada that is maximizing on the skillset of recent University of Nevada, Reno graduate students and creating jobs within the community.

The Reno-based company was founded in 2011 by Mathew Rutledge and Denis Grizelj to fill a niche in the Nevada healthcare market. Newer technologies have allowed for advancements in both clinical toxicology and the field of pharmacogenetics which help physicians offer a better level of care to their patients. Prior to the opening of MD Labs, there were no laboratories in the State of Nevada offering this kind of testing. The founders seized the opportunity to offer these services locally. As the company grew, the need for well-educated and hard working scientists increased.

There are currently 25 employees who work at MD Labs, eight of which are graduates of the University with degrees in chemistry or biology.

"I don't know where MD Labs would be today without the contributions from the University graduates we have on staff, especially in our infancy," Grizelj said. "We have been fortunate to have an academic institution in close proximity that has given us the opportunity to hire such talented individuals."

MD Labs provides an opportunity for University graduates to apply their research skills they develop throughout their academic career at a local Reno company and have a positive impact on healthcare across the country.

"Increasingly, students with graduate degrees are looking outside of academia for employment," David Zeh, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the graduate school, said. "Only 20 percent of graduates become faculty at a college or university. It is wonderful to have employers like MD Labs in Reno to employ these skilled researchers."

"I joined MD labs in December of 2014, and in the last four months I have had the pleasure to work with a staff that is hard working and dedicated to the work of MD labs," Lab Technician and University of Nevada, Reno graduate Michael Padua said. "This environment has allowed me to both apply and expand the skills I gained in academia."

Recently, the company started offering pharmacogenetic testing along with their toxicology services. Pharmacogenetic testing is a non-invasive test that identifies how a patient's genetic makeup will impact their reactions to prescription medications.  This knowledge then allows physicians to prescribe more effective medications with fewer risks of side effects or adverse drug reactions and give better care to their patients.

"The recent expansion of this company is a testament to the importance of the services we provide," Padua said. "We process samples from all over the country, and in doing so, we are able to help physicians better diagnose and heal their patients. This has been especially rewarding for me, knowing that my hard work and dedication helps people."

Padua received his Bachelor's of Science degree in May 2012 and Master's of Science degree in August 2014 in biology from the University while working in the lab of Professor of Biology Jeanne Zeh and David Zeh. Padua worked in their lab for more than five years and participated in several research projects, which gave him hands-on lab experience and the opportunity to co-author three manuscripts.

The University offers many degree programs within the College of Science and the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources that prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need to enter their careers.  

"One of the employees, Jeremiah Smith, received his Bachelor's of Science degree and Master's of science biotechnology degrees in the accelerated track that is headed by Christie Howard, associate professor in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology" David Zeh said. "The track allows students to simultaneously receive both their master's degree and their bachelor's degree in five years. Smith's employment at MD Labs is a great example of the value of a master's degree."

Another employee, Clarissa Martins, who is a clinical laboratory technologist, graduated from the University with a bachelor's of science and a master's of science in biotechnology in spring 2014. Her undergraduate work under the guidance of Professor Ron Pardini in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources allowed her to gain prior lab experience before joining MD Labs in November 2014.

"The University of Nevada, Reno is rapidly becoming a core for leading technologies in Nevada," Genetics Division Supervisor Dylan Stone said. "We look forward to using our own experiences as a company to assist the next generation in developing their own professional careers."

MD Labs will continue to look to the University for skilled employees as the company further develops in the Reno community.

"As a growing lab, it is nice to know that we have a great resource to tap into when seeking new talent and we look forward to hiring more graduates from the University in the future," Grizelj said. 

For more information about the company, visit www.mdlabs.com.

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