By Tiffany Connelly
Neumann University is known for many things. The logo is associated with a strong trio; the values of St. Francis, the men’s hockey team national win, and academically speaking, the prestigious nursing program. Prestigious as it is, there is another hoard of excellence seeking students that occupy the labs, share the same professors, and buy the same disposable lab coats in the Knights’ Shoppe. These are the biology majors. Throughout the three tracks of the program there is a dauntingly omnipresent pressure, infinite metaphorical millimeters of mercury, questioning a brief and terrifying phrase, “What’s next?”
To answer this internal inquiry, Founder and CEO of Flowmeteric Inc., Renold Capocasale visited a group of bio majors and science professors. The classroom, most commonly utilized for physics and genetics lectures, was transformed the moment Capocasale entered. A biology major himself, practicing his undergraduate study at Villanova University, Capocasale walked us through his story. He spoke of his Catholic upbringing and possessing a family of doctors, where his route had already seemed to be laid out nicely before him. At an age, not much older than myself, he was accepted into the medical school at Georgetown University. In the same week, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. “The plan isn’t always the way you expected it to go,” he said calmly. “That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Simply be open to all the possibilities.” After going through surgery, his life had been placed on hold and never went to Georgetown. “It was bittersweet to say the least.” However, with his particular kind of tumor and a 40% survival rate, Capocasale couldn’t have been more blessed.
Post-recuperation, he worked as a lab assistant and attended University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate Program in Immunology during which he met his wife. Using his experience from Penn, he worked a year during a small period at a biotech company before being offered a job at Johnson & Johnson. Here is where Capocasale spent sixteen years of his career, developing Remecaid and Stelara, two drugs that assist with alleviating symptoms of Crone’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis, through hybridoma techonology which are still very much in use today.
During October of 2009, Capocasale was laid off from Johnson & Johnson. Two days later, he had informed the company that he would be creating his own. “I listened to the voice that matters most, mine,” said Capocasale, a smile on his face. After raising $2.5 million dollars in three months, he went on to found Flowmetrics Incorporated, a contract and research organization for over 78 clients on the basis of flowcytometry. “What I had was passion.” And passion was certainly an understatement. Intellectual, strong, and with the understanding of how faith and one’s own opinion drive the success of an individual, Renold Capocasale temporarily quelled the worldly expectation of all students who heard him speak. He had ended with a reassuring nod, “Validation will come.” As biology students at Neumann University who understand what it is like to face struggles and bumps in the road, we would like to thank him for his insight and are appreciative for his empathy.
Photo credit: Bill McLaughlin