If it hadn’t been for that summer John Havens spent at Case Western Reserve University’s macromolecular science department as a high-school student, he might not be the senior vice president of technology at microfluidics company Arradial today.
“It was a sponsored program that had one student from each area high school to go up to Case for the summer,” Havens, 45, says. “I went out there and liked and it and the professor kept inviting me back. Eventually I transferred there and did my graduate work with him. Strictly by chance.”
Havens now applies his expertise in high-throughput screening, DNA and protein biochips, and bioMEMs devices to the development and commercialization of Arradial’s platforms, including microfluidic systems for target identification and drug discovery.
Though he operates on a managerial level and handles business development, Havens sometimes misses getting down and dirty in the lab. “I always enjoyed lab work. That’s why I got into science,” he says. “But you can have a lot more leverage by directing groups and interacting on a corporate level.”
Before joining Arradial’s ranks in Massachusetts, Havens was senior director of chemistry and high-throughput screening at Nanogen, where he led platform-development efforts for SNP genotyping and discovery.
At Arradial, Havens is part of an effort to use the microfluidic approach to screen novel targets as well as to generate biochip arrays. The main challenge, he says, is to do all this as quickly as possible with the money that they have raised. “It’s always a time/money sort of game,” he says. “We think we can do it, but you know, the proof is in the pudding.”
— Jasmin Chua