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Five Questions with Jill Mullan

June 6, 2019

Name: Jill Mullan

Title: Chief Operating Officer

Organization: iSpecimen

Responsibility: Operational excellence in strategy, partner programs, HR, marketing, corporate communications, compliance and more.

Why have you chosen a career in biotech, and why iSpecimen?

I spent the first 20 years of my career working in the high tech industry in a variety of product, strategy, and business management roles. When Chris called me to talk about his idea for starting iSpecimen, I was immediately hooked. I was at a point in my life where I was looking to do something more meaningful — something I considered mission-driven — and iSpecimen was a great fit. I loved the fact that the goal of the company was to advance medical research and that technology was a key part of doing that. Obviously, I had a lot to learn on the life sciences side, but I jumped in with two feet and have never looked back.

What excites you about working at iSpecimen?

Years ago, we interviewed a candidate for a position, and when we asked him what he wanted out of the role, he answered something to the effect of, “I want a job where I look forward to Mondays as much as I do Fridays.” I loved that idea and I can honestly say Mondays are my favorite day of the week. My role at iSpecimen has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I learn something new each day, I work with great people, and I am doing something that is making a difference in the world. I couldn’t ask for more out of a career.

You’ve recently announced the next version of the iSpecimen marketplace. What’s new?

Marketplace 1.0, which was released in 2017, was centered around researchers and their ability to perform biospecimen searches to connect to available samples. It gave researchers a really easy-to-use interface to enter study criteria and explore the world of available biospecimens at participating healthcare providers. The latest release of the iSpecimen Marketplace was focused on the healthcare providers this time and simplifying their operational workflows — from feasibility assessments through order management. It includes dashboards to allow providers to track and manage their specimen requests for samples — across specimen types (biofluids, tissues, viable cells) as well as banked or prospectively collected samples.

Amazon expanded from books to, well, everything. What’s after biospecimens for the iSpecimen marketplace? Or what’s after the marketplace for iSpecimen?

There are lots of places we can go. Our challenge continues to be how do we prioritize all of our ideas! One thing is for sure, though, and that is healthcare data will be a key to what we do. One of our goals this year is to “get and use more data” because data simplifies every step of the biospecimen procurement process — from allowing for more robust searches, to finding more samples that match requirements, to reducing resources required from feasibility assessments to sample annotation.

What is your personal philosophy/mantra/secret of success?

I think part of being successful is being selfless. When you work with the best interest of the organization in mind as opposed to your own self-interest, I think it’s inevitable that both happen  — the organization succeeds, and you do as well.

I also think that when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to be resilient, optimistic, and passionate about what you’re doing. There will inevitably be setbacks along the journey, but being able to see the opportunities in these challenges will allow you to come out the other side even stronger!