Celebrating the Accomplishments of Karina Solis, Laboratory Director at CND Life Sciences
“ … the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.” -UN Women
Karina Solis always wanted to be a teacher. Her love for education took her from lecturing her stuffed animals as a child to graduating with degrees in Public Health Education and Biology from California State University-Long Beach.
Instability in the job market for teachers led Karina to take an internship with a pathologist who was opening his own practice. In the span of 18 months, she had helped him set up and optimize the operations of the lab. “That was fascinating to me because I got to teach people to do something very special, which was cancer diagnostics.” It wasn’t a traditional classroom experience, but Karina loved it and continued on the path of getting fledgling labs up and running.
Karina notes that there were difficult times being a woman, and especially a woman of color, in the male-dominated field of laboratory work. It was a big change from her experience as a college student. But she was driven by her desire to help patients, and her talent for organization and attention to detail meant she excelled at managing the moving parts of a pathology lab. Over the next decade, Karina put her passion and skills to work at prominent labs including LabCorp, Agendia, and Genzyme, where she managed staff, optimized operations, and helped secure lab accreditations.
Karina found herself missing Arizona, where she’d previously lived, so she decided to apply at a lab in Phoenix. Soon after, she was invited to interview with Dr. Todd Levine, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at CND Life Sciences. As Karina detailed her extensive lab experience, Dr. Levine practically hired her on the spot. He said they needed people with a passion for the work; Karina was the obvious choice.
Karina and her husband David packed up their lives in California and moved with their one-year-old son, Nico, to Arizona. “I took the leap of faith because I felt that what CND was going to offer was revolutionary.” She never wavered from this foresight, despite having to start from square one. “We didn’t have a license. We didn’t have the equipment yet. We had to basically create everything from the ground up.”
As Laboratory Director, Karina is responsible for ensuring that CND is in compliance with the myriad safety and regulatory standards required for handling, storing, and analyzing skin biopsies from the Syn-One Test™. She manages a team of four clinical technicians and one lab assistant, verifies patients’ insurance benefits, and appeals insurance denials. It’s rewarding, she says, when she calls a patient and tells them their insurance will cover the test. Some of these patients may receive a difficult diagnosis, but Karina’s hope is that the Syn-One Test provides clarity and a path forward.
It’s clear that she cares for her own team as much as she cares for these patients. Her leadership style is open and honest; her team members know they can come to her with anything. And as she faces the challenge of expanding the lab when CND moves its operations later this year, she reminds her staff to enjoy the journey.
Karina says her vision for the lab, and for every area of CND, is that everyone is centered on patient care. She advises her team, “Even though you’re handling a specimen … remember that it’s a person.” She’s confident that focusing her team on patient-centricity will lead to success.
CND Life Sciences wouldn’t be where it is without giving Karina Solis a seat at the table. That’s why we’re honoring her accomplishments this International Women’s Day.
Learn about International Women’s Day at https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day