Asia started working for Micronoma in October 2022. She was born in the San Francisco Bay area but grew up in San Diego and has lived here for the last 25 years. As a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in Micronoma’s new clinical diagnostic lab, her main responsibility is transferring assays from R&D to CLIA lab and optimizing assays for use on patient specimens from sample receipt, testing, analysis, and result reporting. She ensures sample processing is performed in an efficient and controlled way and participates in areas of analysis, regulatory compliance with state and federal regulations, quality assurance, and performance improvement when laboratory testing is developed or performed.
Asia spoke with us to provide some insight into her work and path to Micronoma.
Tell us about your educational background and previous work.
I attained my B.S. degree in Microbiology with an emphasis in Clinical Laboratory Science and Public Health Microbiology from San Diego State University. After taking additional courses at UC San Diego, I was fortunately selected for the Clinical Lab Scientist (CLS) Internship Program at the UC Irvine Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital where I completed a year of didactic and clinical instruction in the areas of phlebotomy, clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology, transfusion medicine, microbiology, body fluid analysis, molecular diagnostics, and laboratory operations. After completion of the internship, I passed the board exam for licensure as a California CLS and certification as a Medical Laboratory Scientist by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).
Since I trained in a hospital setting, I started my career as a CLS at Palomar Medical Center. From there I was recruited to Invivoscribe’s Laboratory for Personalized Molecular Medicine and entered the biotechnology industry, specializing in the oncology field. Here I developed my skills in molecular testing by implementing new NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) and MRD (Minimal Residual Disease) assays for leukemia and learned how to scale workflows and manage a laboratory as needs expanded. I also participated in clinical trials and the successful submission for FDA approval and launch of a new companion diagnostic assay. At my next company, PetDx, I expanded my experience in molecular diagnostics by employing a novel liquid biopsy screening test that uses cell-free DNA for multi-cancer early detection.
What led you to working at Micronoma?
The clinical lab community in San Diego is quite connected and I heard Micronoma was looking to hire a generalist CLS. I had previously known Chuck Tripp (Quality Manager) and heard of Darryl Garrison (COO) so I knew this would be a talented team launching the CLIA lab. I have found that I enjoy the progress of starting a clinical lab and participating in the decisions that will set it up for success as it expands so this was an opportunity I could not miss.
How has cancer personally impacted you?
I currently have two family members in their second battles with cancer. It is inspiring to see the strength it takes not only physically but mentally to face their diagnosis and fight again after beating it previously. This drives me to do my best to help in this field in any way I can.
What’s your favorite part about working at Micronoma?
The people. Not a day has gone by where we haven’t had a good laugh. Also, I am a huge dog lover and everyone on my team owns pups, and we share stories so that is a bonus!
How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
There is exciting growth for the company coming soon as our first assay launches. In two years, I anticipate more assays onboarded for clinical diagnostic testing and support of early detection for numerous cancer types. With the increase in sample volume and assay types comes implementation of more structure to manage sample handling to ensure processes are running smoothly and efficiently. I enjoy evaluating where laboratory testing can be improved and training laboratory staff to maximize operations.
What are your hidden talents or hobbies?
Event or travel planning. I love traveling internationally and will spend hours and hours researching and creating trip itineraries with detailed, multi-tab, color-coded excel spreadsheets. One of my most recent and favorite was Morocco before the pandemic hit. A week after, the borders were shut down. (And we hit all the plans on my tabs!)