By: Alisha Crabtree
“Originally, I wanted to be a lawyer,” Melissa Kuchma, founder and CEO of Revolution Medicine, recalled. “During my senior year of high school, I decided to take an Advanced Placement Physics class – just for fun. I absolutely loved it.”
The physics class led Kuchma down a career path filled with revolutionary, innovative and groundbreaking opportunities. Kuchma earned her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Florida (UF) and Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She returned to Florida to be a research associate for the NanoScience Technology Center at the University of Central Florida (UCF). Additionally, Kuchma became an assistant professor at the UCF College of Medicine and adjunct chemistry professor at Valencia College.
Discovering Innovative Solutions
“I started my career in inorganic chemistry but switched to cancer biology research – two completely different subjects,” Kuchma said. She started working as an assistant professor and research scientist for the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, now known as the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health.
“The unique aspect to running this research lab and program was the contact I had with patients,” said Kuchma. “I realized the infinite information found in the research realm was not applied on the clinical side. There needed to be methodologies to take scientific knowledge and effectively apply it to the treatment of patients.”
Kuchma decided to use her knowledge of genetics to develop sophisticated computer software that would improve the quality of patient care and impact lives. “I witnessed cancer patients taking medications without knowing the potential side effects,” said Kuchma. “I wanted to provide a resource for physicians and patients that could be applied to individualized health care based off how genes and drugs interact.”
Kuchma’s innovative thinking, applied knowledge and personal commitment led to the founding of Revolution Medicine. “You always have to be learning and expanding your horizons,” Kuchma said. “You never know what is next.”
In 2011, Revolution Medicine received funding through the Orlando-based Florida IDEA Grant Program competition. It earned $100,000 in cash and in-kind services such as accounting, marketing and mentoring assistance. The grant propelled the company to generate significant progress in getting its technology to market. “This award gave Revolution Medicine the seed money to jump,” said Kuchma.
Today, Revolution Medicine enables physicians to integrate DNA analysis into their decision-making process to more effectively treat patients. “Revolution Medicine offers information that helps empower the physician and patient to make informed decisions regarding health care,”
Revolution Medicine incorporates an innovative technology, sophisticated scoring algorithms and advanced databases to analyze, assess and evaluate a patient’s unique DNA profile. The integrated systems allow physicians and patients to be proactive concerning personal health care decisions.
The DNA analysis expedites and assists physicians in determining the proper medication regimen for the patient. “The system provides information on most drug classes including oncology, cardiology, diabetes, anti-depressants and pain management,” explained Kuchma.
Additionally, it notifies the physician to medications that may cause adverse drug reactions and harmful side effects. “The technology is useful for customers seeking a prescription, preparing for future health care needs, or investigating why a medication is ineffective without trial and error,” said Kuchma. “We know medications affect individuals differently. Our technology indicates what medications will work best based on an individual’s genes.”
Revolution Medicine is approved by validated data sources including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium.
“We know medications affect individuals differently. Our technology indicates what medications will work best based on an individual’s genes.”
– Melissa Kuchma
Shorts in January
Kuchma grew up in South Florida. As an adult, she has lived in Washington, D.C. and Boston. “Florida is home to me!” said Kuchma. “I learned quickly that cold weather was not for me. I like wearing shorts in January and that could not be done in Boston. So, I moved back to Florida because I love it here.”
Kuchma believes that it is an exciting time to work in Central Florida. “This area is really getting off the ground,” said Kuchma. “We are building and expanding universities, hospitals and private companies. I think what we are creating is a great mecca for entrepreneurs, particularly those in health care. All these factors are coming together.”