With the suddenly urgent need for timely and accurate in vitro diagnostic development, Shane Trexler, MBA ’15, and the team’s work at Seraph Biosciences, Inc. is more relevant now than ever before. Based in Detroit, the biomedical device company is working to commercialize its revolutionary diagnostic technology, Seraspec®. Seraspec® is a portable point-of-care technology providing real-time pathogen identification to inform clinical bedside decision-making. Preventative shutdowns threatened Seraph’s progress, but Trexler has helped lead the charge forward, often drawing upon the relationships, knowledge, and values he acquired from the rigorous MBA program at George Mason University.
As vice president of engineering, Trexler is tasked with managing a team of software and engineering experts, while working to champion the dynamic startup’s vision of bringing novel health care solutions from the lab into the real world. Trexler and his colleagues see their work as a testament to Seraph’s mission—“to produce quality, cost-effective technologies for health care providers in order to optimize clinical decision-making in our globally integrated society.” Watching COVID-19 rapidly spread across China and other countries, the team foresaw how shutdowns and economic unrest could compromise their mission. As a non-essential business in the state of Michigan, Seraph's operations—based out of Wayne State University's SSIM program—were potentially jeopardized by lockdown orders mandating the university’s receiving department and their lab shut down. As a result, the impending and all-important shipment of Seraspec® prototype’s components was at risk of non-delivery.
Acting fast and advancing with the company’s operational goals, Trexler re-routed the critical shipment to an alternate site off campus for assembly and testing. In the meantime, Dr. Greg Auner, the company’s chief science and technology officer, successfully petitioned the university to see that select lab resources were permitted to continue critical research as essential business functions in accordance with the lockdown order. They could have easily fallen behind in the dire circumstances, but instead, Seraph’s amazing progress during the pandemic became the story. “We were fortunate to have great partnerships with the university and hardware suppliers to continue builds on the spectrometer during that critical time,” said Trexler. “We have precedent for the importance of this work and we were thrilled to continue our research and development efforts.” While limiting outside interactions, Seraph’s team of experts have remained focused throughout the pandemic. Component shipments have continued as the startup moves toward commercializing Seraspec® with critical stakeholders across the country.
Trexler’s crucial role in sustaining Seraph’s research and development efforts during the COVID-19 crisis underscores George Mason University School of Business’ foundational impact on its alumni. “Goal-oriented, creative thinking reinforced through the Mason MBA program has continued to benefit facets of my career and has added value to my team and to our projects,” he said. To this day, he is still learning from faculty including Jeff Kulick, whose tremendous international marketing experience makes him an invaluable advisor. Other professors who have influenced him include David Miller, whose passion for entrepreneurship and critical thinking motivates Trexler’s entrepreneurial drive, and Mahesh Joshi, who constantly challenges students to bring creativity into business strategy. Trexler also understands the importance of giving back to Mason through coordinating guest lecturing sessions with professors when he returns to town. “The heart of my Mason Business School experience is learning not only from professors but also classmates and fellow alumni so many of whom have played huge roles in my career,” he says.
Shane Trexler is a collaborator – in the lab and in the classroom. Combined with commitment and determination, it’s what has driven his team to new heights in research and development. His enduring connection with Mason faculty has paid dividends as they bounce ideas off each other and exchange unique insights. But Trexler also understands that he has a lot to give to the next generation, and he doesn’t take for granted his opportunity to impart that knowledge. As the progress at Seraph illuminates his incredible leadership, current and future Patriots will continue to be inspired to evolve as innovators in their own ways.