Ted Olsen is president of PathSensors in Baltimore, Maryland.
Ted Olsen can be very passionate when describing the mission of his Baltimore-based life sciences company, which is developing systems to rapidly detect biological threats in the air, plants and food. But the president of PathSensors is also fervent about the importance of having a strong biotech community to help nurture a small company like his, as he has discovered in Maryland, and in particular at the University of Maryland BioPark in West Baltimore.
“I never would have dreamed there would have been this kind of collaboration, the number of speakers that have come through the BioPark … government delegations from China and Korea that have led to conversations with us,” he said.
Maryland has one of the stronger biotech clusters in the country. On a per capita basis, it is second in academic bioscience research spending, fifth in bio venture capital investment and eighth in bioscience patents, according to Battelle, a private, nonprofit applied science and technology development company. It also ranks seventh for pharmaceutical job growth since 2007. Life sciences were responsible for one-third of Maryland’s job growth between 2002 and 2010.
Olsen’s company is developing systems to speed, simplify and improve the process of detecting biological threats such as the anthrax attacks that followed Sept. 11, 2001 and food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli. PathSensors licenses technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Lincoln Laboratory. Its system employs genetically engineered biosensors that replicate the glow from a jellyfish to signal a dangerous substance more rapidly than traditional means. Analysis that might have required four days can be cut to less than a day.