5 Questions

Kurt Van Gunst
Principal Research Scientist

When did you join Ozette?

I came to the company in July of 2022.

What motivated you to become a Research Scientist?

From an early age, I was drawn to the natural sciences. Throughout school, my science classes were the most engaging for me, and I always knew I wanted to build my career in a scientific field. I majored in Physiology and Neuroscience at UC San Diego, and in my last two years, had the opportunity to intern in an immunology lab at The Scripps Research Institute focusing on autoimmune diabetes. My work relied heavily on flow cytometry, and I ended up specializing in the technology after I graduated. Applying cutting-edge laboratory techniques to help contribute to our understanding of different diseases was something I knew I wanted to pursue in my career.

What prompted you to come to Ozette

Prior to joining Ozette, I was working in the cell therapy division of a large pharmaceutical company, developing flow cytometry assays to characterize our CAR-T cell products and starting materials. These data were used to help determine what makes a safer and more effective product by looking at correlations with clinical outcomes. While this was fascinating work, I knew that we could do more with the technology. I was drawn to the opportunity at Ozette because it allowed me to have more room to innovate and push the boundaries of what we can do with high-parameter flow cytometry. Advances in cytometry instrumentation and reagents over the past five years have been incredible, and the field needs the tools that Ozette is building to pull meaningful insights from this incredibly complex data quickly and without bias.

What does a typical day at Ozette look like?

Like most start-up companies, the work environment at Ozette is very dynamic, often requiring one to wear many hats and work on what is most needed to help the company achieve its goals. In the Ozette Lab, we are currently focused on launching our flagship Assay-to-Insights product; a 48-color full spectrum cytometry assay that provides deep characterization of all major circulating immune cells. In addition to running the assay once or twice a week in the lab, analyzing and reviewing data, and planning out our next set of experiments, there is a fair amount of time spent collaborating with our colleagues on the data science, product, platform, quality assurance, and operations teams. One thing I love about working at Ozette is the opportunity to have exposure to all facets of the business; every day is different!

What does the future look like at Ozette to you?

Ozette’s future is very exciting! As high-parameter cytometry becomes more accessible to our colleagues in academia and the biopharmaceutical industry, there is a tremendous need for a robust automated solution for data analysis. While gleaning insights from high-parameter data using traditional manual methods is possible, the process is very cumbersome, requires a high degree of expertise, and is inherently biased to the analyst’s interpretation of the data. Ozette’s platform solves all of these problems, and I see it being widely adopted by more and more partners as we grow as a company.