Bob Danisch '70
By age 10, Bob Danisch '70 was conducting experiments in the lab where his father worked. He recalls being fascinated by the collection of frogs used in the late 1950s to test for pregnancy.
By the 1980s, Danisch headed a team that developed at-home pregnancy tests in a lab that didn't have a single frog. At Monoclonal Antibodies, then a start-up company in Mountain View, Calif., his team was one of the first to use ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) technology in commercial pregnancy tests. ELISA uses antibodies to detect the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in pregnant women.
Later, he was part of a team that used this science to develop the world's first at-home ovulation test. "At that time, all they could do was take your temperature. This test was easier and much more accurate for predicting ovulation," says Danisch, who now works as a quality consultant for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. The in-vitro tests became the most impressive accomplishments of his career.
Even now, he is amazed at those scientific advances. "At the time, it had never been done, and even I was a little skeptical," he recalls. He faced pressure to produce the product before money ran out, and the complicated task of getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration, which was good experience for later career moves. With a BS in medical technology from Quinnipiac and an MS in the same field from C.W. Post College, Danisch had moved west where the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries were booming.
After Monoclonal Antibodies, he worked at a few companies before landing at Genentech, where he continued to work on ELISA. He later changed jobs, creating and reviewing quality control testing procedures and results that were compliant with federal regulations. "My signature signified that these results were reliable and accurate," says Danisch. "We did not want to have to recall a product."
Today, Danisch is a quality consultant for Gilead Sciences. Before that, he managed data for clinical trials at the pharmaceutical giant Genentech for 15 years. He has worked on some of the biggest drugs on the market including Avastin, which treats colon cancer; Rituxan, which treats non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; and Herceptin, which treats breast cancer.
He misses working in the lab, but is satisfied helping to develop drugs that save lives. From the soon-to-be parents who used his ovulation tests to cancer survivors who have benefited from his former company's medications, he says, "It's touching to meet these people and have them tell us about their experiences with our products."
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