Get to Know StemExpress and Why the California-based Company Expanded to Rockville, MD

May 7, 2019

Cate Dyer, CEO of StemExpress, founded the organization after working as an ER tech and within the human transplant clinic early in her career. She saw too much regulation and rampant inefficiencies in the donor process where patients and their families had a hard time getting the life-saving–and sometimes life-giving–services they needed.

In 2010, Dyer did something about it–she founded StemExpress, a company focused on saving human lives by providing the freshest biospecimens that help accelerate research and clinical trials for life-changing medicines.

Back in 2010, StemExpress was a company of one with $9,000. Today, the privately-held organization, headquartered in Folsom, California, has approximately 60 employees and four locations, including a new Donor Collection Center in Rockville, Maryland.

According to a recent interview with the Sacramento Business Journal, Dyer projects the company will generate $100 million in annual revenue by 2022. That’s quite a long way from $9,000 and an idea in less than a decade.

“Where we really support companies is by providing fresh products with same day or by overnight deliveries. This freshness is big for researchers because it maintains the accuracy of the research they’re doing…The researchers are trying to emulate something that’s occurring in real life in a research setting. If they’re getting something that’s old or frozen it will not be as effective for them,” stated Matt Phillips, Director of Business Development at StemExpress.

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“Freshness also applies to our laboratory products. We perform stem cell isolation in our labs and provide same day or overnight delivery as well,” he added.   

StemExpress offers a wide array of life science services that are focused on accelerating the research and development processes while ensuring that the biospecimens used in R&D are the freshest and of the highest quality. The company offers products specifically tailored to research and the clinic and even offers bioservices as a CRO (Clinical Research Organization), including donor registration, stem cell isolation, medical device testing, and data analysis, among other bioservices.

Donors, however, are the true cornerstone of the business.

The company has four Donor Collection Centers strategically located near or within key life science hubs on the East and West Coasts. StemExpress opened its Rockville Collection Center in 2018.

“The Rockville opening was a really great experience from a community involvement perspective. The Chamber was wonderful and did a ribbon cutting event. It was warm and welcoming for us as an outsider…Whenever we are looking at an expansion city we are looking for centers that have a large biotech presence and a place where we can support our donors,” stated Phillips.

“In Rockville we’re literally right across the street from many biotech companies-we can collect blood in the morning and they can walk across the street to pick it up,” he added.

Each Collection Center uses the most advanced collection process available today along with top phlebotomists to ensure the products shipped (or picked up from across the street) are of the highest quality possible. These bi-coastal Collection Centers help StemExpress meet researchers’ specific, custom biospecimen needs via direct access to its large and diverse donor population.

“What we have seen over time is a lot of repeat donors. That’s important because they feel comfortable with the collection process and build relationships with the Collection Center staff, and we are able to call them to come in and donate if we get a particular request from a researcher. We have a recallable donor database, which is a big advantage,” stated Katherine Elorduy, Director of Marketing and Communications.  

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StemExpress’ expansive capabilities and strong supply chain allow it to remain agile and remarkably responsible to its end users’ needs.

Collecting specimens directly from a diverse pool of donors and isolating stem cells in StemExpress labs are the starting points of a tightly controlled, highly regulated, FDA-registered and GMP/GLP compliant collection to delivery process managed by a single entity.

By managing the entire process under one roof, so to speak, and maintaining peak specimen freshness upon delivery, StemExpress eliminates material inconsistency that can cause issues with experiment and clinical trial results. The fresher the materials, the more consistent and reliable the R&D results, which is critical when under review by the FDA.   

StemExpress’ end-to-end commitment to the highest quality standards is unrivaled. When this commitment is coupled with its cell processing capabilities and its global network of vetted distributors, customers have supreme confidence that what they’re working with is the freshest, most reliable material available.

The last decade has seen StemExpress expand rapidly and the organization has aggressive growth plans for the future.

“We feel there’s a benefit to continue to expand physically and into specific markets. Where this growth is coming from is academic research institutions, biopharma and biotechnology companies that are innovating at such an accelerated rate we’ll probably look back on this time as a healthcare revolution,” stated Phillips.

StemExpress technician working with stem cell samples

“Instead of…creating pills for people, companies are creating therapies that are using their own blood and are unmasking the abilities of an individual’s immune system to be able to fight disease without altering their chemical balance with a pill. And it’s really extraordinary. If you think about that, there are fewer side effects…a lot of medicines people take are to counterbalance the side effects. It becomes this circle that’s not sustainable,” stated Phillips.

“Our goal is to support the precision and regenerative medicine, including cell and gene therapies, that’s coming to commercialization at an accelerated rate. We are positioning ourselves to play a pivotal role in supporting these efforts from a research, collection and clinical perspective,” he added.

The future is bright for StemExpress as it continues to help accelerate the research and development of life-changing medicines. As stated on the company’s website, “Express is not just part of our name, it’s a commitment to acceleration because our work saves and improves lives.”

Dyer’s vision to impact the future of medicine by helping patients and families in need has certainly come a long way from one employee and $9,000 in the bank.

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