Impatient Visionary

Published in Hopkins Medicine - Summer 2020

In 2012, Forbes magazine published its annual list of the 30 Under 30 people deemed the brightest rising stars in 15 fields. All were dubbed “impatient to change the world.”

Isaac A. Kinde ’15 fit that criterion. Then a 29-year-old M.D.-Ph.D. student at Johns Hopkins, he already had applied for patents on his techniques for improving DNA sequencing accuracy.

Kinde also was helping develop a revolutionary blood test, CancerSEEK, collaborating with Bert Vogelstein ’74, Kenneth Kinzler ’88, Nickolas Papadopoulos (fellow, oncology, 1993–97; faculty 2006–present), Luis Diaz (HS, fellow, faculty, 1998–2016) and Shibin Zhou (fellow, 1994–98; faculty, 2008–present).

CancerSEEK aims to improve the early detection of multiple types of cancer, many of which — such as ovarian and pancreatic cancers — do not have screening tools available. The goal is to make it part of routine medical exams, since cancers are more likely to be treated successfully if diagnosed early.

After graduating from Johns Hopkins as a nationally recognized molecular cancer diagnostics expert, Kinde became chief scientific officer for PapGene, a company founded in 2014 to commercialize Johns Hopkins-developed “genetic cytology” technologies for the early detection of cancer.

In 2019, Kinde became a co-founder and head of research and innovation at Thrive Earlier Detection, which acquired PapGene. Thrive launched with a $110 million Series A financing — the largest-ever, early-round investment in a Johns Hopkins-created technology firm. Thrive’s mission is to advance CancerSEEK and make earlier detection of multiple types of cancer a part of routine care.

“The excitement I felt in the lab Bert and Ken co-directed is even more tangible now because of how much closer we are to delivering on the mission that was started long before my time at Hopkins. Thrive is the culmination of lots of people’s efforts and insights into developing a test we think will help patients,” Kinde says.

The Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association honored Kinde with its 2019 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award.