Founded in 2013 by former roommates, Mark Smith ’09 and James Burgess ’09, OpenBiome was created after the two observed a friend suffering from the infection C. difficile. Afflicting half a million Americans annually, C.difficile causes severe pain, frequent diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite and, in tens of thousands of cases each year, death.
While antibiotics usually cure those with C. diff, one in five patients face antibiotic-resistant infections. The good news is that there is a solution, known as fecal transplant, that cures the vast majority of these patients, virtually overnight. A fecal transplant is exactly what it sounds like—stool from a healthy person is transplanted into the colon of a sick individual. The human body, incredibly, takes care of the rest.
Prior to OpenBiome, few physicians offered fecal transplant due to the cost and complexity associated with the therapy. Open Biome fills a crucial gap in public heath by providing pre-screened, frozen still aliquots to doctors and hospitals nationwide. With over 150 hospitals in 36 states as part of their network, OpenBiome aspires to put 90% of the population within a two hour drive of this life saving treatment.
Open Biome will be the home to four Project 55 Fellows in the 2015-16 year; Rodrigo Munoz Rogers ‘ 13, Ryan Elliot ’14, Lindsay Eysenbach ’15 and Sasha Lieberman ’15. Rodrigo will focus on clinical outreach and coordination, while Ryan will focus heavily on the clinical research done at OpenBiome. Lindsay and Sasha will both work on operations and management during their fellowship year.
Josh Grehan ’10, OpenBiome’s Director of Business Operations, expressed his excitement in bringing on a cohort of Project 55 Fellows for the first time. “During the interviews with PP55 applicants it became quickly apparent that OpenBiome would benefit immensely from their involvement with our organization.” Grehan continues, “We at OpenBiome are excited to work with the Project 55 fellows. The amazing talent they posses and the enthusiasm they have will really push OpenBiome to the next level.”