Biotech from the ground up
Justin Swick and Derek Gregg founded the biotech company after conducting a class project at Marshall.
February 12, 2010 ·
Five years ago two former Marshall University students decided they would turn a class project into their own research corporation. Today Vandalia Research Corporation is still going strong, despite economically tough times.
While many young ambitious entrepreneurs will try
and fail, Justin Swick and Derek Gregg are living the dream of having their own
business. Vandalia duplicates custom DNA sequences used in diagnostics,
vaccines, gene therapy and other markets.
Gregg calls their company the Kinko’s of molecular
They’ve gone from college students feeling their
way, to a well respected company that continues to find success.
“The economic conditions in the past year haven’t
been good for anyone,” said Gregg.
“If you’re trying to go out there and raise money
for a small company it’s virtually impossible. But we’ve got a good group of
investors and we have dedicated people here that are willing to continue taking
the risk,” he said.
While at Marshall,
Gregg and Swick were studying computer and information technology. They both
took a class with Dr. Elizabeth Murray, now CEO of Vandalia.
asked them to create a machine that could mass produce DNA. Students however
were working with water and not actual DNA.
So Gregg and Swick took their lab project and made
it into a reality.
They named their machine Triathlon because it
handles more DNA and runs longer than other technology of its kind.
The company just relocated from a 4,400-square-foot
space in the Frederick
Building to a
9,000-square-foot space in the American Red Cross facility on Veterans Memorial Boulevard
Vandalia now employs seven, and is currently
working on a vaccination project with INOVIO Biomedical, a company in San Diego, CA.
Gregg says they’re determined to deal with a tough
economy, noting they’ve already doubled what they grossed last year.