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Meet Shuhan He of Conduct Science in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shuhan He.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It was in 2013 when I was working in a neuroscience lab. We were measuring subtle cognitive changes in mice from small strokes that can occur from things like pollution and atherosclerosis or plaques in the blood vessels. We had to measure very subtle changes in their behavior and realized that most of the tools that existed in the industry were too poor to detect what we needed.

The funny thing about neuroscience is that the entire field is trying to measure the brain, which means that you need to properly measure behavior as well. All the drugs that work on the brain, whether they prevent diseases like strokes or Alzheimer or even make us smarter like cognitive enhancers rely on good tools that are capable of measuring intelligence, and the number of tools that could accomplish such purpose was lacking.

I also realized that they were of very low quality, usually being mass produced abroad and shipped here for exorbitant costs. After coming to that conclusion, I started out by making tools for our own lab and then for other labs who had heard through the grapevine. Eventually, we just kept growing and put them on sale at mazeengineers.com and conductscience.com.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Let’s look at some of our main challenges: manufacturing, collaborations, and partnerships.

Manufacturing:
We source local manufacturers who can hand make apparatuses for your lab. This means that we work with local partners and we are always are looking for new ones, so it requires a great deal of sourcing American manufacturing, which can certainly be a challenge.

Collaborations with scientists:
We work with universities, tech transfer offices, and scientists to license out their inventions so we can broadly spread scientists work across the world. Their inventions, in collaboration with our manufacturing apparatuses, can be greatly beneficial to other scientists, but this means we deal with the regulatory structure of IP tech transfer, which is a very challenging system. Many of the licenses are truly made for large “home run” patents, instead of individual devices that have great, but limited utility for specific purposes in the lab. Because of this, we have developed an expertise in finding ways to benefit all the parties in a small licensing deal with a university. This certainly has been a challenge.

Partnerships:
One of our goals is to have all our apparatuses that are automated integrate with existing manufacturers of automated devices in the market. What this means is that we must convince other companies to work with us. In a stodgy old industry that is not used to this sort of collaboration, it certainly takes convincing and much work. However, we are lucky to have found great partners to develop new technologies with.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Conduct Science – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We’re proud to have some of the smartest scientists in the world thinking about science equipment in a unique way. The tools that scientists use is incredibly important and having better tools means better science. We’ve invented many new tools scientists currently use and that have allowed new ways to perform science. For example, in neuroscience, there is something called optogenetics, where a tethered wire is attached to a rodent brain and you can see the neurons fire live. Our apparatuses allow you to do this while also functioning within a maze (from our products in our division at Maze Engineers).

We also describe ourselves as the first and only artisanal science company. Most scientific manufacturing means imported low-quality products from abroad. Our products are made in the USA and each one is individually made for the scientist’s experiment to perfectly match their needs. This means we can customize each product to size, shape, or color, being precisely adapted for each test.

Lastly, our prices certainly set us apart from other lab equipment companies. Even though we individually make each product, we can match all the off-the-shelf and mass manufactured products because we take less of a cut and have less overhead as we are a digital-first company. We don’t a have sales staff and don’t badger your lab. Instead, we trust that when you need us, you’ll find us online and we’ll ship it to you direct, which means there are significant savings for you.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We are currently working on a multipurpose and completely automated neuroscience apparatus called the Labyrinth. This device acts as a housing system for rodents that is very adaptable and allows a wide spectrum of experiments to be conducted.

Its main features can be divided into three sections:
1) CRETE (the environment itself, fully automated)
2) MINA (intelligent food reward, light cues, and shock delivery)
3) DINA (automated removal of feces and urine)

More specifications can be found here: https://mazeengineers.com/labyrinth/

Pricing:

  • Standard Stereotaxic System: $2550
  • Brain Matrix: Coronal Section/Saggittal Section: $235
  • Stainless Steel Rabbit Restrainer: $490
  • Elevated Plus Maze: $1890
  • Barnes Maze: $2290
  • Morris Water Maze: $1390
  • Automated T Maze: $4900

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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