Daniel Lunz (Flexible MBA ’19) partnered with a Johns Hopkins oncologist to bring a potentially lifesaving cancer detection test to market. Because of Lunz, the DNA test for Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition closely associated with esophageal cancer, could offer an affordable, less invasive, and more widely available means to prevent deaths from esophageal cancer.
Bringing cancer detection to market
Lunz says he found Johns Hopkins to be the perfect environment for an aspiring entrepreneur. He eventually went to work as a strategic adviser with the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network, where he met Stephen Meltzer, an oncology professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Meltzer had developed and validated a DNA test to detect Barrett’s esophagus. The DNA test offered tremendous potential for preventing esophageal cancer, but Meltzer was struggling to turn his discovery into a product to benefit the public. Lunz offered to help and in September 2018, he and Meltzer founded Capsulomics to bring the cancer test to market.
Esophageal cancer is considered to be one of the deadliest cancers worldwide killing more than 509,000 people each year. Esophageal cancer is treatable if detected early, but the condition can only be diagnosed through an invasive upper endoscopy procedure. Capsulomics’ diagnostic test looks for specific DNA biomarkers taken from a minimally invasive tissue swab taken from the patient’s esophagus.
“One of the values of Carey is that it has the Johns Hopkins resources. It’s really opened up so many doors for me,” explained Lunz.
Building for what’s next in health entrepreneurship
Capsulomics continues to move forward. The company recently secured office and laboratory space at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and has research funding from the National Institutes of Health. In September, Capsulomics beat out 50 other start-ups to earn top honors at Patriot Boot Camp, which aims to help veterans launch new technology companies. They are also raising seed funding to pursue insurance reimbursement with the goal of bringing their first test to market.
“The sky is the limit for whichever avenue students and MBA candidates are interested in going whether entrepreneurship, health care, or a more traditional MBA route. Carey has all of it to offer.”
Daniel Lunz, Flexible MBA '19
For Lunz, bringing a lifesaving technology to market validates earning his MBA. He was searching for a more rewarding career path when he found Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. The Marine Corp veteran was making a living as the owner of a precious metals business, but he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship through a business that would allow him to “serve others.”
“I was successful, but it didn’t bring me much joy and fulfilment,” says Lunz.
Lunz’s career search led to a job as a research coordinator at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the part-time MBA program at Carey Business School.
“What led me to Hopkins was the connection with the School of Medicine and health realm,” said Lunz. “I remember thinking ‘if I can somehow get in there and find some way to use this interest in entrepreneurship and business and merge it with the passion and the purpose, I have for serving others; this could be a real win.’”