CND Life Sciences recently welcomed Senior Pathologist & Medical Director, Janine Feng, MD and Senior Pathologist, Dana Haydel, MD to our team. We’re excited to introduce these highly experienced physicians to help lead our clinical pathology, research, and innovation programs.
Dr. Janine Feng grew up in Connecticut, the daughter of two doctors of marine biology who introduced her to a microscope at an early age. Her father taught at the University of Connecticut, and she recalls her mother “…taking me to a pond to gather water and put it on a slide, and we’d look at all the plankton and the diatoms. That’s where it started for me.” An anatomic and clinical board-certified pathologist, Dr. Feng attended NYU School of Medicine and performed residency training at the University of Arizona.
After many years working for large labs, most recently Roche Tissue Diagnostics, where Dr. Feng’s accomplishments include developing a companion immune-oncology biomarker for hepatocellular carcinoma and developing biomarkers for HER2 in new tumor indications, she was excited by the opportunity to help establish a smaller lab working on new and innovative diagnostic tests. “I thought the science was very intriguing.”
As a young child, Dr. Dana Haydel was eager to understand illness. She wanted to know, in technical terms, what it meant that her great-grandmother had had a stroke and dreamed of solving medical mysteries herself. Furthermore, curiosity about diseases and mortality was another part of life for Dr. Haydel, having grown up around her Black-owned family business — a funeral home, mortuary, and cemetery for Black people in New Orleans that they founded in the 1940’s. In college and medical school, Dr. Haydel tutored others in pathology, but it was not until a friend and fellow student pointed out that this was a natural skill of hers and suggested she specialize in it. “From that conversation, I was all in.”
Dr. Haydel is a board-certified pathologist with anatomic and clinical specialty training from UC Irvine. She also completed subspecialty fellowship training in pediatric pathology from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and in dermatopathology from UCLA. She also earned a Master of Science in Human Genetics from Tulane University.
Dr. Feng similarly expressed that “the Syn-One Test™ provides some peace of mind. It provides clarity on neurologic diseases that are very hard to diagnose.” The test can be used to both help diagnose and rule out synucleinopathies and help ensure that patients are receiving the proper care. As Medical Director, Dr. Feng’s vision is that CND will be a center of excellence for neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to pioneering diagnostic technologies, her goal is for CND to play a role in clinical trials as researchers study potentially disease-modifying therapies. To get a clear picture of the efficacy of these therapies, it’s essential that they are tested on the right patient. Dr. Feng sees a future where the Syn-One Test serves as a companion diagnostic to help identify the right patients for a particular therapeutic. “I want to highlight the beauty of what the test produces.” Dr. Feng says she hopes other clinicians will appreciate how powerful it is to have a visual representation of the pathology of the diseases they specialize in. She wants them to come away with “an understanding of just how amazing the science is. We’re the first to detect synucleinopathies in the skin.”
Dr. Haydel, who was searching for new ways to use her skills in dermatopathology, echoed Dr. Feng’s excitement. “You don’t often get in on the ground floor of medical technologies.” On the topic of what the Syn-One Test means for doctors and patients, Dr. Haydel says, “Many doctors go into medicine hoping to provide people more definitive answers. The Syn-One Test provides answers—not just for the patient, but for their entire family.”
“The skin is a window into neurodegenerative diseases,” says Dr. Feng. And the skin, Dr. Haydel points out “…is the body’s most accessible organ. To have a minimally invasive test that can tell you what’s happening in the brain, that’s pretty genius.”