Why ScitoVation is Part of my Journey

June 15, 2021

Dr. Jean Orelien, CEO

My passion is helping solve problems at the intersection of health, science, and technology. In other words, problems for which we can use science and technology to improve lives. With ScitoVation, our long-term vision is to achieve this by helping our clients develop safe chemicals for humans and the environment using innovative science and technology. There are parallels between our work at ScitoVation and SciMetrika, the first company I founded  in 2004 and sold in 2018. At SciMetrika, we used the best science and technology to help federal health agencies develop, implement, and evaluate interventions based on sound science.  

At ScitoVation, we are driven by helping clients launch safe chemical compounds to market faster using the best available science. In our industry, the lingo we use for “the best science” is new approach methods (NAMs). Even in the 21st Century, our field primarily uses the traditional methods of exposing animals to a chemical to determine the impact on humans. Even as a small company, I am energized by our impact on the risk assessment ecosystem  through our technology (software tools such as PLETHEM or MoAViz), our outreach (e.g., blog posts and our webinars) and our scientific footprint (minimum 15 papers per year since our founding in 2016). 

As an organization, we are uniquely blessed to stand on the shoulders of  giants from predecessor organizations (e.g., the former Hamner Institute) that were pioneers in developing NAMs. One of the ways we counted success was based on the number of scientific publications and invited speakerships. While we continue developing new methods to address problems where existing ones fall short, ultimately we want to measure success based on the number of chemicals that we help assess using NAMs. The more chemicals we assess using NAMS, the more we create win-win-win situations: a win for clients with faster time to market and cost savings compared to animal studies, a win for ScitoVation, and a win for the public at large with safe chemicals for health and the environment, and positive economic impact by getting products to market faster.

Now, while I am bullish on the future of ScitoVation, I confess that it comes with some headaches. We are in a transitory phase in our industry. Regulatory agencies are slow to adopt new methods. Most of our funding still comes from industry led consortia, such as the American Chemistry Council (ACC), to develop these methods and tools that benefit the risk assessment community writ large. With the increasing adoption of these methods by regulators, less funding is available.  It is both an opportunity and a challenge to convince companies that we are equipped to assist them with the implementation of these NAMs.  

The journey to the destination of transforming chemical discovery using NAMS is long. Like many journeys, it starts with the first step, and we are still early in this phase.  ScitoVation is part of my life journey. I welcome the blessing for the opportunity to help make a difference in such a large and impactful industry, and the challenges (e.g., learning opportunities) that come with it. This is exactly the type of situation I was created for.  

I encourage you to find your life’s passion and to engage in work that fulfills that passion. Let me share with you one of my favorite poems from my favorite philosophers, Rumi. 

The one thing you must do 

There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there’s nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life. 

It’s as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don’t do it, it’s as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat. It’s a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots. It’s like a knife of the finest tempering nailed into a wall to hang things on. 

You say, “But look, I’m using it. It’s not lying idle.” Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? For a penny an iron nail could be bought. You say, “But I spend my energies on lofty projects. I study philosophy and jurisprudence, logic, astronomy, and medicine.” But consider why you do those things. They are all branches of yourself and your impressiveness. 

Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord. Give yourself to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don’t, you’ll be like the man who takes a ceremonial dagger and hammers it into a post for a peg to hold his dipper gourd. You’ll be wasting valuable keenness and forgetting your dignity and purpose.