“Take Off the Pump Handle”: BioFire CEO Randy Rasmussen on Meeting the New Challenges of Infectious Disease

By John Shultz

Randy Rasmussen, CEO of BioFire Diagnostics, delivered the keynote speech at the 2018 bioMérieux “Night at the Museum” event held in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 9th, 2018. In his talk, Randy relates the challenges he has faced in his own career in the fight against infectious disease, while reflecting on the current state of the food safety industry. By framing the stories of visionaries like Louis Pasteur and John Snow against more modern entrepreneurs, Randy gives us his unique perspective on the bold thinking required to solve the toughest challenges that still remain at the forefront of human health.

In the time since John Snow removed the water pump handle from the Broad Street pump, cutting short a massive cholera outbreak in London, our understanding of the causes of disease has greatly improved. That said, we haven’t won this battle, and there is much progress yet to be made. Technology will lead us part of the way, as evidenced by the steps that have occurred in the past two decades, with the development of molecular techniques like nested PCR and genomic analysis. Those provide a glimpse of where we are headed.

Our own commitment to personal responsibility and the moral imperative to do right by our fellow humans is the other aspect in this fight that will be critical to the future of human health. Randy closes his speech with an important take home message: There come times in the career of a professional that they may need to make unpopular decisions in the interest of truth, safety, and the betterment of their fellow humans. Randy challenges us to look within ourselves here and closes with a heartfelt call to action.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of bioMérieux, Inc.

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