Griffin O’Driscoll (QST’20) and his team at Organicin Scientific are taking on bacteria, especially those that severely impact the world’s agriculture. Along with his team, he’s doing it by combining his biochemistry and molecular biology bachelor’s degree with his Master of Management Studies program at BU. In a short amount of time, their small team has been able to tackle some of the CDC’s “Biggest Threats” found its 2019 antibiotic resistance report.
INNOVATE@BU: How do you create innovation and what problem are you hoping to solve?
GRIFFIN O’DRISCOLL: We are making drugs to kill bacteria, even the resistant ones. Utilizing our drug discovery platform, we are able to screen and produce multiple drug candidates quickly and inexpensively.
Currently, our drug candidates are being formulated into biopesticides to treat plant diseases that are wreaking havoc on farms, orchards, and regional economies. Current treatment methods are lackluster or ineffective, especially as antimicrobial resistance continues to threaten our food supply and render our most common treatment methods useless.
Tell us where did the inspiration for Organicin Scientific come from and how did you get started?
Our team is inspired by one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, antimicrobial resistance (AMR). As the CDC stated in their most recent report on AMR, “Stop referring to a coming post-antibiotic era — it’s already here”.
Following the discovery of penicillin in 1928, the world benefited from the golden era of medicine in which antibiotics were being discovered one after the other. Unfortunately, resistance began occurring soon after these discoveries and the effects of overuse, misuse, and reliance on antibiotics have brought us to where we are today–a mess of antibiotic-resistant pathogens resulting in about 35,000 deaths a year. We hope to be the company that leads the world through this post-antibiotic era.
What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle you had to overcome while getting started?
The biggest challenge we have faced is communicating this technical idea to investors who have little scientific training or background. As we require capital to get us through regulatory testing, this has been an issue. Ultimately, no idea is going to be accepted or allowed to thrive if it can not be understood and so our team has been working tirelessly to perfect our “pitch” and spread our message.
How about your biggest win so far?
Our laboratory is the heart of our operation and as you can imagine, is where the discoveries happen. Organicin Scientific is largely a drug discovery company, it’s what we’re good at. We have found many successes in treating pathogens, most notably ones listed on the CDC’s “Biggest Threats” found in its 2019 antibiotic resistance report. It is amazing to think that a company as small as us can accomplish something even the largest players cannot.
What advice would you give to someone starting their own innovation journey right now?
Never stop pursuing your goals and make sure to listen. You’re going to be told “no” more than you maybe ever have and you can’t let that distract you. It is important to keep pushing forward regardless of the feedback. However, you must also be able to recognize when you’re wrong and when a pivot is necessary. And don’t forget to have fun!
What meaningful impact are you hoping to create from this venture? What are you and your team working on to get there?
Organicin Scientific defines success as providing solutions to all problematic bacterial pathogens. When we no longer have to worry about our apple orchards being torched from fire blight or worry about the outlook for the 2.8 million individuals diagnosed with an antibiotic-resistant infection, we will know our venture accomplished what it set out to. Our team is working to get to this place by focusing on the issues in agriculture with a grand vision of expanding beyond that in the future.
What resources have been most helpful to you along the way?
The Innovate@BU department has done an amazing job supporting our venture since I enrolled as a graduate student in September 2019. Through funding opportunities, networking, or advisory services, the staff has been a huge helping hand in our journey.