NEI’s 2023 Annual Report: Preventing the Next Pandemic, Building the Next Biotech Hub

NEI's 2023 Annual Report: Preventing the Next Pandemic, Building the Next Biotech Hub

Total Analysis Preventing the next worldwide pandemic may come down to a textbook-sized device being developed in Detroit. The brainchild of Dr. Darrell D. Marshall, a bioanalytical chemist whose startup venture, Total Analysis, uses the same concept as explosive detection at airports. Rather than detecting bomb signatures, however, Marshall’s technology charges ions to help identify a molecular fingerprint of pathogens. “During the pandemic you had to have a COVID test or you couldn’t hop on a flight at the airport abroad,” said Marshall. “But if you would’ve had something like RSV or tuberculosis, they wouldn’t have been able to detect that, because those tests are really fast, but don’t detect multiple illnesses.” Total Analysis uses surface-based swab technology to detect viruses and infections and other pathogens. The differentiator for Total Analysis is a database consisting of the molecular fingerprints of pathogens allowing it to test for all known pathogens in the same test, onsite, with no lengthy trip to the lab. “Our whole focus is around detection of pathogens to help prevent the spread of these things to eliminate future pandemics,” said Marshall, noting that the convenient technology is a natural fit for clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ offices that treat people directly and rely on sterile environments. Broad Support from Across the Region    Broad Support from Across the Region
Operating out of space in Newlab at Michigan Central and a lab at the Michigan Innovation Headquarters in Ann Arbor, Total Analysis has been aided by a regional network of funders and supporters, including NEI grantee TechTown Detroit, as his designing his prototype and learning how to be an entrepreneur. “Entrepreneurship is about perseverance,” said Marshall. “Eventually you break through. No matter how many times you bump your head, you always keep moving. I’ve learned so much about things, like how to commercialize my product, it’s taken years off the process.” He also received a grant from Detroit Means Business and support from Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help develop his prototype while winning the prestigious Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation. Championing Detroit as a Diverse Biotech Hub    Championing Detroit as a Diverse Biotech Hub
Marshall and his team see a company like Total Analysis helping Detroit emerge as a city of the future with a burgeoning biotech industry that attracts young entrepreneurs from around the country. “Detroit is primed to be the new industry leader for biotech,” said Marshall, a native Detroiter, who graduated from historic Cooley High School. “Imagine if you live in Silicon Valley or Boston, which are major players, but housing and the costs of everything is ridiculous. Why not come to Detroit, where you can be here around major universities, get the support that you need?” He also views his role as helping demonstrate the potential of groups that are typically underrepresented in tech circles, and credits local efforts such as Black Tech Saturdays with helping him navigate the entrepreneurial ecosystem and connect with other founders who offer their counsel. “If I’m successful in this space, there’s going to be a flood of people that say: ‘Hey, we can do this in Detroit,’” Marshall said. “The more wins that the Michigan tech ecosystem gets as a whole; we all win. I have a duty to work with different people in the ecosystem because as they win and as this ecosystem grows, it brings more opportunity for anybody entering, including me.”

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