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Dr. John Dobak currently serves as the CEO of DermTech, a biotechnology company creating a new category of medicine – precision dermatology. DermTech is in the business of transforming the way doctors perform skin exams. Its smart sticker technology – an adhesive tab that collects skin cells – allows dermatologists to run genomic tests looking for skin cancer.
Dr. Dobak found himself in San Diego when he started med school at UCSD while in pursuit of a life-long goal of becoming a surgeon. When working towards his postdoc at UCLA, he interned at a local hospital, where he received a grant for a cardiac catheter that froze tissues to treat arrhythmias. Upon completion of his internship, he raised his first venture round for what became Cryocor.
Cryocor was Dr. Dobak’s first startup, and it led to his work at INNERCOOL, which employed hypothermia to cool blood in order to protect the brain and heart during injuries. Unfortunately, INNERCOOL could not achieve the proper clinical data, so the company was sold to Phillips.
Next up, he worked at a company that treated eye problems with a technology that additionally had dermatological applications. This is how he was introduced to Gary Jacobs, who just happened to work at DermTech.
At this time, DermTech sold clinical trials services to dermatology companies, but consumer feedback indicated a need for skin analysis technology. With John’s expertise, the company quickly pivoted towards its current technology – adhesive skin patches. With lots of trial and error, the product has reached a 95-to-97% success rate in sample collection vs. the original 30%.
While not technically a founder, Dr. Dobak helped build the company up from scratch. First with the help of angels and then institutional investors, DermTech went public. Listen in to hear what John has to say about the adapting biotech space in San Diego and how DermTech continues to capitalize on it.
Dr. Dobak’s Favorite Tacos:
Los Dos Pedros in Pacific Beach
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Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.