Scientist Spotlight: David Gebhart

Welcome to Enable Biosciences’ Scientist Spotlight, a semi-regular blog post highlighting one of our scientists working to bring Enable’s technology to fruition.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is David Gebhart, and I am the assay development engineer at Enable Biosciences. I received my BS in Engineering from Olin College outside of Boston. Olin is a very small and relatively new college; I graduated as a part of only the 4th graduating class. This close-knit, scientifically-minded community prepared me to take on multifunctional roles in startups and small teams. Before Enable I worked building tissue-engineered blood vessels and then induced pluripotent stem cells.

What about outside of the lab?
Outside of lab I am an avid hiker, runner, and occasional cyclist. The many hills of San Francisco make for a great running challenge, and they pay off with incredible views of the Bay Area. On my bike I have seen hundreds of miles of California, including a week-long ride from SF to LA raising money to fight HIV/AIDS.


How did you find Enable?
Like many of the first employees at Enable, I had a friend on the inside. Enable Scientist, Jesse Cortez, and I have been friends since 2011 when I helped him move into a mutual friend’s apartment. Once I met the rest of the team and saw the potential impact of the technology, I was very excited to join in.

What does an Assay Development Engineer do exactly?

My role at Enable has been two-fold, the initial focus of my work was to help prove the technology by performing a lot of experiments using the ADAP platform, but now I am increasingly working to standardize our processes in preparation for entering the highly-regulated field of clinical diagnostics. This drive for standardization has included implementing inventory controls, creating quality control samples, and working with an outside firm to develop a laboratory information system. I also help out with lab safety and running the automated liquid handling platform.

What first sparked your interest in biotech?
As a kid I always enjoyed building things, starting with block towers in elementary school. As I grew, the building blocks kept growing smaller and the constructs became increasingly more complex. By college I was learning about how microscopic cells can shape complex functional organisms. Seeing the massive effects of microscopic changes has been the highlight of biotech for me. Now at Enable I am helping to detect the minute signals that can have huge health impacts for patients and researchers.

Enable Biosciences Relocates to South San Francisco to Launch Clinical Testing Lab

Packing up our old space at MBC Biolabs

Packing up our old space at MBC Biolabs

San Francisco, CA, October 22, 2018 – Enable Biosciences Inc. has moved to a new location in South San Francisco to accommodate growth and to launch a new clinical testing facility.

Since  2016, Enable Biosciences has been housed at MBC Biolabs, a biotechnology incubator located in the Dogpatch neighborhood in San Francisco. Now a team of six scientists, engineers, and physicians, Enable plans to expand to include clinical scientists in anticipation of the launch of their blood and saliva tests for type 1 diabetes, lyme disease, and food allergy over the next year. The new facility spans 3,488 square feet over two floors, with refurbished lab facilities and office space.

Jesse Cortez, PhD shows off some of the many boxes of supplies at our new location.

Jesse Cortez, PhD shows off some of the many boxes of supplies at our new location.

“MBC Biolabs will always have a special place in our hearts as the absolute best place in the world to start a biotech company,” said David Seftel, Enable’s CEO, “We were very fortunate to have begun our journey there and we will maintain strong relationships with the brilliant scientists and entrepreneurs we met while in residence.”

“Our new facility is essential to our future growth as we transition from a pure research company to one providing high-quality clinical testing,” said Peter Robinson, Enable’s Chief Scientific Officer, “Thanks to our investment in automation, we will be able to support a significant amount of testing capacity at this location while maintaining our existing research programs.”

About Enable Biosciences: Enable Biosciences is a San Francisco-based diagnostics company commercializing licensed technology from UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Enable develops ultrasensitive and multiplex immunoassays to help diagnose diseases at their earliest and most effectively treatable stages. For more about Enable, visit For press inquiries, email or call Peter Robinson, PhD (415-967-1460).

Enable Biosciences Selected for NIH Commercial Accelerator Program

October 9, 2018

Enable Biosciences has been selected from over 300 NIH Phase 2 grant awardees to participate in the 2018 - 2019 National Institutes of Health Commercial Accelerator Program (CAP). Per the NIH: “The CAP is well-regarded for its combination of deep domain expertise and access to industry connections which have resulted in measurable gains and accomplishments by participating companies.” The NIH further describes: “The program enables participants to establish market and customer relevance, build commercial relationships, and focus on revenue opportunities available to them.”

“We are thrilled that the NIH has selected us out of a very competitive field for this critical commercial accelerator program award,” stated Enable’s CEO David Seftel, M.D. “We plan to use the exceptional resources of the program to do a deep dive into the best execution strategy to help bring our early diagnosis system for Type 1 diabetes to customers as soon as possible”

“Type I diabetes is an challenging disease to detect early on. Our ultra-sensitive and highly specific assay technology is designed to directly address this deficit”, explained Enable’s Chief Scientific Officer, Peter Robinson, PhD.

The 2018-2019 CAP also facilitates meetings with the FDA to assist in approval and review. “Our goal is to make our Type 1 diabetes  detection technology available across a range of form factors and platforms to serve the needs of both researchers and clinicians” stated Jason Tsai, PhD, Enable Biosciences’ Chief Technical Officer. He continued: “This way we can help our fellow scientists develop potential interventions that can interrupt this disease at the earliest possible stage, producing a positive impact on the lives of millions of children and young adults, who are most often afflicted with this disease.”

About Enable BiosciencesEnable Biosciences is a San Francisco-based diagnostics company commercializing licensed technology from UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Enable develops ultrasensitive and multiplex immunoassays to help diagnose diseases at their earliest and most effectively treatable stages. For more about Enable, visit For press inquiries, email or call Peter Robinson, PhD (415-967-1460).

Enable Biosciences Awarded NIH/NIAID Grant to Advance Minimally-Invasive Multiplex Food Allergy Test Panel

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Enable Biosciences Inc. has been awarded a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant for $223,806 to accelerate development of its minimally invasive, ultrasensitive, and specific blood tests for food allergy.

"Food allergies affect up to 9% of the US population, with over 30,000 reactions per year requiring emergency care. For many, especially children, allergic reactions are serious and life-threatening," said David Seftel, MD, MBA, Enable's CEO. "Mitigating and preventing adverse allergic events require accurate diagnosis to direct dietary avoidance, connect patients with novel treatments and to monitor response to treatment."

While existing allergy tests promise a molecular-level analysis of the allergic response, none simultaneously detect many allergies at once while displaying high sensitivity- which is key to detecting allergy early.

"Current tests either detect only one allergy marker at a time at high cost and require collection of large sample volumes or detect many markers at once with a loss of sensitivity. We plan to develop a new high-performance test that doesn't cut corners," added Cheng-ting "Jason" Tsai, PhD, Enable's Chief Technology Officer.

Enable Biosciences is developing a test that detects many allergy markers at once without sacrificing quality. Since it only requires a droplet of blood, it may also improve testing compliance in children.

"The research funded by this grant will produce an enhanced test panel for 80% of the most common food allergens, such as milk, peanut, and shellfish," explained Jesse Cortez, PhD, Senior Scientist at Enable.

The project expands on work between Enable scientists and Stanford co-investigators Stephen Galli, MD and Kari Nadeau, MD, PhD.

About Enable BiosciencesEnable Biosciences is a San Francisco-based diagnostics company commercializing licensed technology from UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Enable develops ultrasensitive and multiplex immunoassays to help diagnose diseases at their earliest and most effectively treatable stages. For more about Enable, visit For press inquiries, email or call Peter Robinson, PhD (415-967-1460).

Research reported in this press release is supported by the NIAID of the National Institutes of Health under award number 1 R43 AI141118-01. Content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Scientist Spotlight: Jesse Cortez

Welcome to Enable Biosciences’ Scientist Spotlight. A semi-regular blog post highlighting one of our scientists working to bring Enable’s technology to fruition.

Jesse Headshot for Spotlight.jpg

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! My name is Jesse Cortez, and I am a lead scientist here at Enable Biosciences. I got my start in science working on carbon nanotubes at Rice University, earned my PhD doing synthetic organic chemistry at UC Berkeley, and most recently spent some time doing a post doctoral fellowship at UCSF. I spent most of my academic career working on becoming a university professor, but then decided to make the jump to work here at Enable. I felt that this small biotech startup was well positioned to make a big difference in the world and I wanted to be a part of that.

Besides my interest in science, I spend my spare time doing local theater! I’ve been singing and dancing since I was very young, and love performing in various musicals around the Bay Area. As recently as 2013 I won the “Best Showtune Cabaret Singer” at a local piano bar (Martuni’s) and have been doing theater ever since. You can see pictures and find out more at my own website!

How did you find Enable?

I actually first found out about Enable Biosciences on Facebook. I saw Peter Robinson (co-founder of Enable) write a post about the new company and that he was looking to hire someone. This came at a time when I was looking for what my job would be after I finished my post-doctoral work.  I attended UC Berkeley around the same time as Peter, and so it was really easy to message him and find out more about the position. After hearing about the amazing technology that Enable Biosciences was working on, I applied for the position and I became the first scientist hired at the company about 2 years ago!

What are you working on at Enable?

I started out doing a lot of the science work that went into validating our ADAP assay

for Type 1 Diabetes and HIV. Now that we have published that work, as a company we want to make sure that our technology can be scaled up to run many samples in one day. Therefore, I’m currently working on being able to run our tests effectively on an automated liquid handling system. I helped write and troubleshoot the programming of our robot which allow us to scale up from the benchtop to a level where we can screen many more people in a day. My next projects involve reducing the time that it takes to run our assay, as well as finding ways to fully barcode our process so that our reagents, samples, and data can be tracked easily. This will be very important in our goal of bringing our assay to market and run an efficient clinical lab. Definitely not what I did my PhD work in, but it has been really fun to learn new skills!

Who is your favorite scientist?

I could give you a legitimate answer like Neil Degrasse Tyson or Arthur C. Cope/Rainer Ludwig Claisen (who discovered the Cope/Claisen sigmatropic rearrangement - my favorite organic reaction), but I think I’ll have to answer Bunson and Beeker from the Muppets!

Enable Biosciences CTO wins Award at American Association of Clinical Chemistry Meeting

AACC Abstract Award.jpg

Enable Biosciences’ Chief Technology Officer Jason Tsai, Ph.D. attended the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) annual conference July 29–August 2, 2018. Dr. Tsai was honored with the 2018 AACC Industry Division Best Abstract Award for his presentation describing the unique features, performance and benefits of Enable Biosciences’ Antibody Detection by Agglutination-PCR platform as applied to the diagnosis of a range of challenging diseases.

“The AACC is a leading global scientific and medical professional organization dedicated to clinical laboratory science and its application to healthcare. It was a privilege to accept the Best Abstract Award, which highlights the promise that Enable Biosciences’ technology shows for advancing laboratory medicine and clinical care,” said Dr. Tsai, “It is a very exciting time for clinical testing and I am pleased to be a part of a dynamic team that is on the forefront of innovative new diagnostic technologies.”

About the 2018 American Association of Clinical Chemistry Annual Conference in Chicago: The 70th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo held July 29–August 2, 2018 was a premiere place where breakthroughs in clinical testing and patient care were introduced to the healthcare world. The meeting attracted global leaders in clinical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, precision medicine, mass spectrometry, translational medicine, lab management, and other major areas of laboratory medicine.