Uganda is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the southwest by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. Solomon Ssenyange was born in Uganda.
During the time of despot Idi Amin Dada, Solomon’s mother fled to a refugee camp in another developing country, Kenya, with Solomon and his two brothers and a sister in tow. It would be nine years before the family would be able to leave Africa, when a church in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, agreed to sponsor them. Solomon was 14 by then. Solomon remained in Canada for 14 years, completing high school (at the top of his class); earning a bachelor’s degree with distinction in chemistry from the University of Manitoba; earning a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Alberta; and completing his post-doctoral studies at The Ohio State University.
With his formal education completed, Dr. Ssenyange, at 30, took his first professional position, at a company in the San Francisco Bay Area. But after six years there as a senior plating/process engineer, “I felt like a lab rat,” he says. “I had bigger dreams than that.”
By pure happenstance, he was reading an article (“Beyond the Breathalyzer: Seeking Telltale Signs of Disease”) in The New York Times on July 2, 2011, which explained that “scientists are building sophisticated electronic and chemical sniffers that examine the puffs of exhaled air for telltale signs of...asthma...” when “The proverbial light bulb went off in my head,” he recalls. “I could use my knowledge of analytical chemistry, battery engineering and process development engineering to not only diagnose asthma via a nitric oxide biomarker in exhaled breath, but also predict a future asthmatic event.”
Dr. Ssenyange immediately quit his day job and started looking for money to fund his start-up, Spirosure. After 8 months of rejections, however, he was down to his final $2000, and was ready to give up.
When a friend at his former place of employ learned that Dr. Ssenyenge was about to pull the plug on his dream of starting a company that could have an enormous positive impact on the diagnosis and prognosis of asthma, the friend, miraculously, was able to get Dr. Ssenyenge an appointment to see the founder of Skype™, Janus Friis, at his offices in London.
”At the 33-minute point of my meeting with Mr. Friis,” Dr. Ssenyenge recalls with clarity, “he asked me, ‘How much money do you need?’ “I walked away with a financial commitment from him on June 2, 2012.”
Today, Dr. Solomon’s older brother and younger sister also live in the United States, while his younger brother and mother still reside in Canada. In November 2014, Dr. Ssenyenge’s company announced a nearly $9 million Series B cash infusion to fast-forward development of a new standard of care for respiratory diseases such as asthma, made possible with the Spirosure Fenom™ System: a unique device designed so that an asthma patient and a physician can forecast, for the first time, the next acute event and prevent it through continuous therapy management. In June 2016, Spirosure announced a $17.4 million Series C financing that will drive commercialization of the company’s initial product, Fenom PRO™ Point-of-Care Breath Analyzer, a portable breath analyzer that measures nitric oxide in exhaled breath, a biomarker that foreshadows airway obstruction “I am living proof that America is indeed the land of opportunity,” insists Dr. Ssenyenge.
Dr. Ssenyange is a co-founder of Spirosure and the company's CEO. He is an expert in solid-state electrochemical sensors with an emphasis in the fabrication of nitric oxide (NO), carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) sensors. He is an inventor on patents for breath analysis of various biomarkers present in disease states. Dr. Ssenyange received his training in analytical chemistry in the lab of Professor Mark McDermott at the University of Alberta and conducted cardiovascular research at the St. Boniface Cardiovascular Research Center in Winnipeg, Canada. He completed his postdoctoral studies on carbon based molecular electronics at The Ohio State University. Previous industrial experience includes development of plating solutions and planarization modules used in the MEMs-based probe cards required in semiconductor test and manufacturing. He holds a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Manitoba and a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Alberta, Canada.