For over a decade, Primal Therapies has been a leading biotech innovator, reshaping the oral and systemic health landscape. Founder and CEO, Emily Stein has built the business around her proprietary Selective Microbial Metabolism Regulation Technology (SMMRT®) technology to develop cutting-edge microbiome modulatory products.

Her team at Primal Health, a subsidiary of Primal Therapies, uses molecular biotechnology to produce consumable dental hygiene products to fight dysbiosis, the primary cause of gum disease, and for the last few years she’s hired SciTech interns to help advance Primal Health’s work and impact.   

Internships at Primal Health have always been something of a cohort with typically two new students added to the team each year. The ability to collaborate, not only with each other but also with previous interns who are now working part-time – makes for a cohesive and overall more productive work environment for the entire team.

“We’ve used some of the interns who have been here longer to help train in the new ones,” explained Natalie Wall, an R&D Scientist at Primal Health. And while the students also have separate projects, “when it comes to the overall work, we like to have them all working together.”

Wall, who provided additional mentorship to this year’s interns, comes from an extensive background in neuroscience. She is a great mentor to interns and utilizes her past tutoring experiences with doctorate students to guide interns with their scientific writing.

“It’s nice working with students who know more than I do in some areas. So, we’re all teaching each other,” Wall said. “Not everyone is interested in the same thing, so it’s been fun learning their learning styles and trying to help them grow through that.”

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Finding growth opportunities was a shared goal for both of Primal Health’s interns this spring. Mason Chamberlain, a biochemistry major at Augsburg University, came to his internship looking to explore his curiosity by contributing to real-life projects, while Hannah Moglowsky, a neuroscience major at the University of Minnesota, wanted a hands-on experience that allowed for creative problem-solving.

She applied those goals through a research project that she ran with a fellow intern, comparing Primal Health’s oral product to others on the market. This included collecting samples, treating oral swabs, and observing how different biofilms grow.

Chamberlain, meanwhile, conducted experiments to measure the effect of one of Primal Health’s oral products on the growth and reproduction of plants.

“It’s keeping me on my feet,” he joked, as working with plants was an entirely new experience for Chamberlain. But thanks to support from his team, and consultations with professors, he added, “I’m learning as I go.”

Trust goes a long way
Primal Health is Stein’s fifth startup, and for each company she’s launched, interns have always played a part in their success.

“I foundationally trust interns, 100 percent,” Stein said. “They create a lot of value. I’ve worked for biotech companies that give you tedious grunt work where you do the exact same thing day after day under heavy supervision. I hated it, so we strive to do the opposite here. We empower folks to come and help craft the experimental design.”

The result of Primal Health’s trust in their interns is seen in the quality of work produced by Chamberlain and Moglowsky, as well as the experiential knowledge they’ve acquired and the skillsets they’ve evolved.

“I’ve gained a sense of freedom,” said Chamberlain. “Working independently, I’m in another realm of learning here compared to other students who have done the same course work and labs as I have but haven’t been exposed to what I’m working on now. It’s a nice feeling. I got a lot more out of this than I expected.”

“I don’t feel like an intern here, I feel like an equal to everyone else,” Moglowsky added. “I think I’ve learned more [at Primal Health], and I’m able to apply what I’ve learned back to my classes.” So much so that, because of her Primal Health internship, Moglowsky is changing her career plans. “I was always premed,” she said, “but after starting here and seeing how much I liked working in the lab I decided to apply to grad school for research.”

Chiming in on the phone call, Stein added, “You can’t see it, Hannah, but I’m smiling ear to ear.” 

Get involved!
Startups and small Minnesota companies working in bioscience and other STEM industries can enroll in the SciTech Program to host impactful internships of their own!

Every hire through SciTech reserves a workforce grant that reimburses employers for half of what they pay their interns, up to $2,500 per student hired.

Enroll today to hire talent and reserve your funds before May 31, 2024.