Team Highlight | Thomas: Why Parallel is Special

August 13, 2021
Thomas Yang

Hey everyone! I’m Thomas, and I’m the newest member of the Parallel Health team. Just like Aavi, I’ve probably handled your skin swabs if you’ve participated in our IRB-approved study! I’ve only been here for a month, but I already know that Parallel Health holds unprecedented potential in the fields of skincare and dermatology, which has me thrilled about the work that you (and our community) are helping us do. 

Before I delve into why I’m here at Parallel, let me tell you a little about myself. I was born and raised in New Jersey, ten minutes away from the laboratory where Thomas Edison perfected the lightbulb. I went to high school in Manhattan, and am currently a rising sophomore at Northwestern University, studying Biology and Economics with a minor in Computer Science. I’m a massive New York sports fan, but when I’m not busy watching the Knicks and Giants run New York City, you can find me playing video games or “dominating the competition” at local basketball courts. 

So why did I join Parallel? A big motivator is familial values: both of my parents are immigrants from rural Chinese villages, and throughout my life they have instilled in me the importance of having a positive impact on others—paying it forward. Another factor was my academic interests. During school, I thrived in scientific environments, and biology was one of my favorite subjects. Learning about the foundation upon which this world is built piqued my curiosity, leaving me wondering about the potential applications of such knowledge. As I got older, I grew aware of a relatively nascent field that combined these familial values and academic interests, which also holds immense importance on the world stage today—biotechnology. I quickly realized that with the sheer amount of revolutionary innovation going on in this field, the potential that I had previously wondered about was in fact endless, and was constantly unfolding all around me. 

I was thirteen when Science Magazine deemed CRISPR-Cas9 the breakthrough of the year. I remember hearing whispers about a groundbreaking new gene editing technology that could be used to cure cancer during my freshman year of high school, and I remember those whispers turning into shouts as pioneers such as Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier pushed CRISPR into the limelight. Later on in high school, I gained my first experiences in this field, conducting research working towards curing osteoporosis and osteoarthiritis, where by performing PCRs and analyzing MicroCT scans I was exposed firsthand to the impact that biotechnology could have. 

This potential for impact is also what has me so hyped about Parallel. For years, I have struggled immensely with acne and redness. The state of my skin whittled away at my self-esteem, and my overwhelming self-consciousness about it made me shy away from social situations, leaving me extremely awkward and introverted for a period of time. I know I am not alone in this struggle. Tens of millions of people—young, old, and everywhere in between—throughout the world suffer from the same issues that I do, some to degrees much worse than mine. What I love about Parallel is that it is taking cutting edge biotechnological innovation—DNA sequencing and metagenomics—and applying it to a common issue that so many, including myself, deal with. The level of personalization that Parallel offers is unrivaled in the skincare industry, and the level of impact that a fair-priced, truly personalized acne product can have is immeasurable. 

Apart from the product and vision, I was also attracted to Parallel because of the people. Not only have founders Natalise and Nathan welcomed me with open arms, but they have also maintained a level of presence throughout my time here that is essential to creating a great work environment. Furthermore, most important to me, they are both driven by and passionate about the potential impact that this company can have—a value alignment which serves as a major source of motivation for me. From the first time I met Natalise and Nathan over Zoom, I could tell that they were people I wanted to be around, and that Parallel was a company that I wanted to work for. 

Thanks for reading a little bit about me, and why I wanted to join Parallel! Our skin microbiome research study is currently oversubscribed (it’s been a hectic few weeks in the lab), but if you have any questions or comments, do feel free to reach out at questions@parallelhealth.io. You can also sign up to learn more about future studies and personalized products HERE.

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