Quartzy co-founder Adam Regelmann is an MD-PhD. He bypassed a career in gastroenterology to launch Quartzy with Columbia colleague Jayant Kulkarni. Each week Adam answers five questions about science, medicine, and pop-culture.
Does being a doctor affect how you decide that you or a family member should go to the hospital or see a doctor?
It definitely delays when I take a kid to the hospital, or whether or not I decide to go to the hospital. When you’re in the hospital, you see people who are really sick. You also see people who aren’t really sick but want to be in the hospital. As a doctor, you’re concerned with how other doctors will perceive you for bringing in yourself or a family member. Also, because you’ve seen a good amount, you know when things are serious and when things aren’t. That can be dangerous, especially where a geriatrician has a toddler and is trying to diagnose them—they need to go to a pediatrician.
Why are gluten and “gluten-free” suddenly such buzzwords? Have gluten allergies actually increased, or are people just more wary?
Gluten is a protein produced by wheat and certain grains. There’s a disease called celiac disease, which some people refer to as a “gluten allergy.” It’s very rare, and you really cannot have gluten. It’s an autoimmune reaction to gluten, where your immune system attacks the lining of your intestine. The treatment is relatively straightforward: You don’t eat gluten. People with celiac disease used to really struggle to find things to eat because everything has gluten in it. Then there was a paper published that proposed the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. That paper, combined with the popularity of low-carb diets, made “gluten-free” a fad. Food companies got wind of it and started making gluten-free stuff, which is great for people with celiac disease because they have way more to eat than before, but now if they go to a restaurant and order something gluten-free, they get pegged as whiny.
In an interesting twist, the same scientist who initially proposed the existence of gluten sensitivity later published a small but very well designed study showing that when people with “gluten sensitivity” were sequestered and then randomized to diets either with or without gluten, there was no difference in their symptoms.
TV doctors are always washing their hands. Do doctors just live with dry skin?
Yes, doctors do compulsively wash their hands. My mom, who is a gynecologist, lost her fingerprints because she washed her hands so much. In hospitals, when you’re going between patients, for the most part you use the on-the-wall hand sanitizer, which sometimes has some moisturizer in it, so your hands don’t get that dry. In surgical settings, you have to scrub before every operation. Usually it’s a chlorhexidine scrub or a betadine scrub. Surgeons’ washings are less frequent but more intense than nonsurgeons’, but then they put their hands in gloves and have a nice, moisturizing sweat-bath for the next two hours.
With the rise of delivery and on-demand apps and services, do you envision a return to doctors making house calls?
This is already happening. It’s kind of ironic: My grandma is a doctor, and she used to say “I remember the days when we used to make house calls.” We laughed. Now, with technology, you need fewer resources and infrastructure to know when a patient wants to see you, to know what a patient needs, to be connected to their hospital records, and to diagnose and treat disease. A lot of diagnostic technology can be held in your hand now. With the advancement in technology and business practices, I think there will be a rise in on-demand medical services.
What common or seemingly small Quartzy user feedback makes you most proud?
There are a couple things. One is seeing “experience using Quartzy” as a requirement in job postings for lab managers. The second would be when a scientist joins a lab, finishes a project or degree, goes to another lab already using Quartzy, and just plugs right in. That’s very exciting because one of the hardest parts of joining a new lab is “Where is everything?” Just being able to plug into a system where you see everything that a lab has ordered, everything that’s in their inventory—I know that we’ve decreased the time required for that person to be productive.
Quartzy is the world’s No. 1 lab management platform. We help scientists easily organize orders, manage inventory, and save money. We’re free and always will be. Visit Quartzy.com or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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