Major researcher: Stemina Biomarker Discovery

Life-changing studies
Major researcher: Stemina Biomarker Discovery
Elizabeth Donley

All parents want their children to have a healthy beginning in life, starting in utero and beyond.

The scientists at Stemina Biomarker Discovery, which celebrates its eighth anniversary this month, are doing just that through two life-changing studies. One study involves screening drugs, chemicals and cosmetics for potential causes of birth defects if a woman is exposed to them during pregnancy. The other looks at biomarkers in the blood samples of children enrolled in the study to check for autism spectrum disorder.

Using studies they’ve already done in collaboration with other important labs and health care entities across the nation (Mayo Clinic, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes for Health, among others), Stemina’s blood test for autism proved to have an eighty-percent accuracy in validating the markers. “It seemed we needed to validate that and embark on our own study,” says founder and CEO Elizabeth Donley. Stemina Biomarker Discovery has started to enroll 1,500 kids–ages eighteen months to four years old and from six cities around the U.S.–in the largest-ever study on this, led by Stemina, with a $2.7 million grant from the National Institutes for Health. “When times get tough and you’re waiting for a grant to come in, these things give you inspiration. You know exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing–so it’s good.”

What is social innovation?

According to Stanford University’s Social Innovation Review, social innovation is a “novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable or just than existing solutions” and benefits primarily society as a whole rather than private individuals.

It includes these elements:

Increasing employment, productivity and economic growth

Justice, fairness, environmental preservation, improved health, arts and culture and better education

A social innovation:

Can be a product, production process or technology (much like innovation in general), but it can also be a principle, an idea, a piece of legislation, a social movement, an intervention or some combination of them.

Recognizes the fundamental role of cross-sector dynamics: exchanging ideas and values, shifting roles and relationships and blending public, philanthropic and private resources. Innovation blossoms where the sectors converge.

Can’t be understood, let alone solved, without involving the nonprofit, public and private sectors.

The M List
Madison Magazine‘s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its third year, the M List recognizes those making strides in the area of social innovation. Last year’s list of innovators were in the food industry. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored “Foodtastic” entrepreneurs and innovators.

Click here to return to the 2015 M List.