Today Leah Hochbaum, Cell-El Ltd.’s Recruitment Coordinator interviews Dr. Fred Samuels who recently joined the Cell-El team as CEO.
Welcome Fred! So nice to have you on board. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up and train? When did you make Aliyah and from where?
Hi Leah. It is a pleasure to be here. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, in a town called Massapequa Park on Long Island. I earned my PhD in Biochemistry at Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York and a Post-Doctoral fellowship at the Harvard Medical School. After which we moved to New Jersey and I joined the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology. A year later my professional career began at Technicon. It was one of the first companies to automate diagnostic laboratory tests.
The road to my work in diagnostic laboratory testing then continued on the other side of the ocean. In 1987, our family, my wife and 4 daughters, made Aliyah from Passaic, New Jersey. We had two more children in Israel, another girl and our son Yaakov, who was born in 1992.
Share with us a bit more about your professional background – all of the wonderful experience that you now bring to the Cell-El team:
I am proud to bring 35 years of in vitro diagnostic experience to Cell-El Ltd. In Israel, I joined an Israeli Startup, Orgenics. There we developed point of care diagnostics for infectious diseases including HIV, Hepatitis, Chlamydia and many others. From 1987 – 2017, Orgenics produced close to 100 million tests. The tests were distributed all over the world. During that time, Alere, the world leader in rapid point of care diagnostics, purchased Orgenics as a subsidiary (1996).
1999 I received a promotion to Vice President of Operations of Orgenics. I managed both process development and manufacturing. The operation projects were principally in Israel with advisory roles in many other countries, including The US, Germany, Japan, India and Korea. As a member of the Alere Operations leadership team, my experience grew. My role expanded. I led the Alere team that developed and manufactured the first and only FDA PMA approved 4th generation HIV Rapid test (2009 – 2013).
I received a promotion to Managing Director of Orgenics where I oversaw 200 employees. During that time, I was recognized by Alere as one of three Operations Executives of 2016. The following year (2017), Abbott purchased Alere for over 5 billion dollars. Abbot decided to close the facility in Israel. I spent the next three years until my retirement, working for Abbott as the Senior Director of Global Scientific Support for the worldwide operations projects in rapid diagnostics.
What prompted you to join Cell El now as the CEO? I understand you intended to retire.
After my retirement, I choose to continue in the field of in vitro diagnostics as a consultant. I heard about the work of Cell El. I was especially interested in their project to identify Biomarkers to enable an objective diagnosis of ASD in young children. My interest is not only professional, but personal as well. Two of my granddaughters, who are identical twins, have ASD. Knowing that the earlier a diagnosis, the better chance for early intervention and improved child development, I reached out to Dr. Beni Gesundheit, founder of Cell – El.
I wanted to see if my experience could be of value to the company’s efforts to develop a Biomarker assay for ASD. Dr. Gesundheit immediately expressed interest in my joining the Cell El diagnostic project. Based on my experience, I explained what needed to be done to bring the project to fruition and the product to market. Whereupon Dr. Gesundheit suggested that the best way to implement my ideas would be if I would lead the company as the CEO.
Where do you see Cell El going under your tutelage? What do we have to look forward to?
Cell El focuses on two projects: The development of an objective diagnostic test for ASD and researching stem Cell transplant treatment in children with ASD. Although we will continue on these two paths for the foreseeable future the main focus will become the Biomarker test. We are very enthusiastic about the potential of this system to not only allow for early diagnosis of ASD, but also to be used as a Personalized Medicine tool to objectively monitor the effects of stem cell and other treatments on individual patients.
I am particularly excited by the potential of biomarker assays to be able to differentiate between children who may be helped by a particular treatment verses those who will not. The biomarker test could not only reduce the costs of futile treatments, but also minimize the potential false hopes of parents in their search for treatment for their children. The future for Cell El is very bright. As we move forward, we will also work to develop diagnostics tests to identify specific etiologies of ASD for particular children.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the parents of kids with ASD joining us today or the professionals dedicated to helping them?
I want to assure the parents of children with ASD that at Cell El, we understand your desire to help your children expertly and expediently. It is Cell-El’s mission to change the ASD paradigm. We plan to create diagnostic tests and work with therapies that will increase the ability of the medical system to provide personalized treatments to your children with a higher potential for success.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and welcome again to our team – we are all excited to move forward to accomplish many great things together here at Cell El.
Help Us Help You
You too can join our team and help us in making a difference in the lives of children with ASD and their families! For the Cell-El study, we are recruiting infants aged 10-18 months not diagnosed with ASD but with a sibling diagnosed with ASD and their mothers. Parents please help spread the word to others and thus enable this important tool to be integrated into Autism treatment as quickly as possible. Additionally, if your child is diagnosed with ASD and between the ages of 2-12 years old and you are planning to take them privately to a clinic offering Stem Cell treatment for ASD, please contact Leah at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form to find out about eligibility to participate in our diagnostic study.