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Revisiting a GIA Winner, Geneoscopy

Nancy Nigh
November 28, 2021

This week, applications will close for the Global Impact Award (GIA). Since 2013, The Skandalaris Center, through generous funding from Suren Dutia and Jas Grewal, has been awarding WashU students, postdoctoral researchers, and recent alumni who are creating ventures that are scalable, sustainable, and quick-to-market with proof of concept and a broad impact, with up to $50,000 to further their ventures.

Students, alumni, faculty and friends gathered for the 2017 Global Impact Award presentation and reception, sponsored by the Skandalaris Center at Washington University in St. Louis at Umrath Lounge on the WU Danforth Campus Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. The award, a cash grant to a local startup company, is sponsored by Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal. Grewal (left) and Dutia (right) acknowledge Andrew Barnell (second from left) and Erica Barnell of Geneoscopy during the awards presentation. Geneoscopy was one of two firms recognized. Photo by Sid Hastings / WUSTL Photos

Today we’re checking in on one of the GIA past winners, Geneoscopy. In 2017, founding team members Erica Barnell (Ph.D. ’19, MD ‘22), Andrew Barnell, and Yiming Kang won $25,000 for their RNA-FIT stool test to detect colorectal cancer and advanced adenomas. Geneoscopy is developing a broad portfolio of non-invasive gastrointestinal-related diagnostics and is executing robust trials for FDA approval that will help ensure the safety and efficacy of these tests.

“Having tools to detect colorectal cancer early is good. Also having tools to identify those at high risk of developing colorectal cancer is better. Doing so non-invasively is the best. Due primarily to the inconvenience and invasive nature of colonoscopies, over 40% of patients fail to get screened. As a result, colorectal cancer remains the third most common type of cancer in the US and inflicts an unacceptably high mortality rate. This is the primary challenge that Geneoscopy is tackling today” said founder, Erica Barnell.

We asked Barnell for an update on her venture and she replied, “When reflecting on this past year, I am most proud of the contributions I have made towards the growth and development experienced at Geneoscopy. In 12 short months, we were able to build an 11,000 square foot office / laboratory in Maryland Heights and tripled the size of the company from fewer than 10 employees to over 30 employees, most of whom are located in the St. Louis area. We obtained Breakthrough Device Designation from the FDA and held three pre-submission meetings with our FDA reviewers to design our 10,000-patient clinical trial, which will support a pre-market approval application for our colorectal cancer screening test. Finally, we were able to publicly present data that demonstrates the effectiveness of our noninvasive screening test for colorectal cancer prevention. These data were highlighted in the Association for Molecular Pathology 2020 Annual Meeting and the 2020 Forbes Healthcare Summit. A full description of these data was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology. I was also instrumental in Geneoscopy’s capital raising activities, including Geneoscopy’s ongoing Series B financing.”

According to PRNewswire, on Nov. 16, 2021, Geneoscopy announced the closing of a Series B financing, raising a total of $105 million through a combination of debt and equity. The round is led by previous investors Lightchain Capital and NT Investments. Other investors in the round include Morningside Ventures, Labcorp, Cultivation Capital, BioGenerator Ventures, and Innovatus Capital Partners.

In 2020, Erica Barnell was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” lists of top young entrepreneurs. “It’s my name that you see on the Forbes list, but Geneoscopy is a team effort,” Barnell said. “This is a tremendous honor, but more importantly it’s a validation that what we’re doing is important. It reminds us that we are building a product that’s going to impact health care, and that the work we do every day will ultimately add up to something big.”

Follow Geneoscopy on Twitter @GeneoscopyCo