Alumni Spotlight – Blaine Doyle, CEO, GlowDx
When entrepreneur, Blaine Doyle, contracted dengue fever in Honduras, it proved to be an ironic twist of fate. Having started his company GlowDx to develop a revolutionary kit for fast diagnosis of tropical diseases, he himself had to endure an anxious 24-hour wait for a diagnosis in a Honduran hospital. If left unidentified and untreated, dengue fever has a mortality rate of up to 50%. The cost of testing kits in developing countries can be prohibitive but the affordable GlowDx tests developed by Blaine and colleagues can give doctors an accurate diagnosis within 30 minutes. The Kilkenny native is now passionate about securing universal access to healthcare in the developing world and is highly involved with the community in Latin America, serving on the board of the Irish Mexican Chamber. We chat with him about how UCC changed his life.
After studying Biotechnology at DCU, Blaine Doyle was ready to take on the MSc in Molecular Cell Biology with Bioinnovation at UCC. It was a decision that was to change the course of his life. While on the course, he met fellow master’s student, Yensi Flores, and the pair found a common interest in the area of diagnostics for tropical diseases. Seeing a gap in the market for affordable diagnostic kits, the idea for GlowDx was born. When Blaine decided to defer his MSc in order to develop the business, he was “encouraged to go and make an impact”.
“Having the support of the staff at UCC to defer a year, detach from the MSc and start my business really defined the experience for me. It’s not just what you learn, it’s the mindset bestowed on you”.
Blaine is grateful for the support of the academics who guided and challenged him along the way. He mentions Dr Kellie Dean, who served as a mentor, saying she “stands out as one person who’s helped push our company even after I graduated!” and Professor David Sheehan, who supervised his thesis. He recommends that students “engage with the researchers and leaders; you will get back what you give in spades.”
“Looking back, the intensity and challenge my MSc brought me, really provided me with a growth environment. Whether it’s your leaving cert or an MSc, in that moment that’s the only thing that matters, it’s your world.”
Blaine’s time playing soccer with the university was to provide a welcome break from juggling the responsibilities of studying and starting up a medical device company. “Playing soccer with UCC and the camaraderie within the team was an amazing support system”. He credits the Soccer Club with enhancing his postgraduate experience, helping him to forge strong friendships which he treasures to this day.
“Soccer with UCC was such an amazing experience; an amazing family unit and really made my masters a breeze. I am still in touch with many of the team!”