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2X winner Fast Company World Changing Idea!

The team behind the vision

Stephanie Venn-Watson, DVM, MPH

Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

<i>Stephanie</i> Venn-Watson, DVM, MPH

is a serial entrepreneur who has successfully launched Epitracker, Seraphina Therapeutics,two clinical research programs within the Department of Defense and non-profit sector, and founded public health education programs in the community and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her novel approach to discovering therapeutic candidates for animals and humans has been featured on NPR’s Science Friday, CBS, BBC, National Geographic, Biocom’s Annual Dinner (2014), J&J Innovations: Powerful Ideas Series (2015), San Diego Venture Group’s Hot Topic Series (2015) and Cool Companies (2017), LA BioMed Innovation Showcase (2016), and San Diego’s Innovation Showcase (2017). She has over 60 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters and is the lead inventor on over 40 issued and pending patents. For her entrepreneurial work in the health industry, Stephanie was awarded the Department of Human and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Innovations in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Stephanie received her B.S. in Animal Physiology and Neuroscience from UC San Diego, D.V.M. from Tufts University, M.P.H. from Emory University, and was a National Research Council Associate with the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center. Stephanie has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She is an Albert Schweitzer Fellow for Life.

Did you know?

Beyond Epitracker and Seraphina, Stephanie has dedicated her career to improving animal and human health, including leading investigations on the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on wild dolphins, chairing investigations into unusual marine mammal stranding events, founding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Healthy Pets, Healthy People program, and founding the Gap Junction STEM program for veterinary students and middle school kids.


Venn-Watson S, Schork N (2023) Pentadecanoic acid (C15:0), an essential fatty acid, shares clinically relevant cell-based activities with leading longevity-enhancing compounds. Nutrients (in review).

Barratclough A, Gomez FM, Morey JS, Deming A, Parry C, Meegan JM, Carlin KP, Schwacke L, Venn-Watson S, Jensen ED, Smith CR (2020) Pregnancy profiles in the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): Clinical biochemical and hematological variations during healthy gestation and a successful outcome. Theriogenol 142:92-103.

Le-Bert CR, Smith CR, Poindexter J, Ardente A, Meegan J, Wells RS, Venn-Watson S, Jensen ED, Sakhaee K (2018) Comparison of potential dietary and urinary risk factors for ammonium urate nephrolithiasis in two bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) popualtions. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 315:F231-F237.

Eberle KC, Venn-Watson S, Jensen ED, LaBresh J, Sullivan Y, Kakach L, Sacco RE (2018) Development of testing of species-specific ELISA assays to measure IFN-γ and TNF-α in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). PLOS ONE 13:e0190786.

Standorf K, Cortex-Hinjosa G, Venn-Watson S, Rivera R, Archer L, Wellehan Jr JFX (2018) Phylogenetic analysis of the genome of an enteritis-associated bottlenose dolphin mastadenovirus supports a clade infecting the cetartiodactyla. J Wildlf Dis 54: 112-121.

Borras E, Aksenov AA, Baird M, Novick B, Schivo M, Zamuruyev KO, Pasamontes A, Parry C, Foutouhi S, Venn-Watson S, Weimer BC, Davis CE (2017) Exhaled breath condensate methods adapted from human studies using longitudinal metabolomics for predicting early health alterations in dolphins. Anal Bioanal Chem 409:6523-6536.

Hofstetter AR, Eberle KC, Venn-Watson S, Jensen ED, Porter TJ, Waters TE, Sacco RE (2017) Monitoring bottlenose dolphin leukocyte cytokine mRNA responsiveness by qPCR. PLOS ONE 12:e0189437.

Elnaggar MM, Abdellrazeq GS, Venn-Watson S, Jensen ED, Hulubei V, Fry LM, Sacco RE, Davis WC (2017) Identification of monoclonal antibodies cross-reactive with bottlenose dolphin orthologues of the major histocompatibility complex and leukocyte differentiation molecules. Vet Immunol and Immunopath 192:54-59.

De Guise S, Levin M, Gebhard E, Jasperse L, Hart Leslie Burdett, Smith CR, Venn-Watson S, Townsend F. Wells R, Balmer B, Zolman E, Rowles T, Schwacke L (2017) Changes in immune functions in bottlenose dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Inter Endang Spec Res 33:291-303.

Pasamontes A, Askenov AA, Schivo M, Rowles T, Smith CR, Schwacke LH, Wells RS, Yeates L, Venn-Watson S, Davis CE (2017) Non-invasive respiratory metabolite analysis associated with clinical disease in cetaceans: a Deepwater Horizon oil spill study. Environ Sci Technol DOI 10.1021/acs.est6b0b482.

Cortes-Hinojosa G, Gulland FMD, Goldstein T, Venn-Watson S, Rivera R, Archer L, Waltzek TB, Gray G, Wellehan JFX (2017) Development and validation of a qPCR for a rapid and specific diagnosis of California sea lion adenovirus (CSLAdV-1) and prevalence in wild and managed populations. J Vet Diagn Invest 29:193-197.

Fauquier DA, Litz J, Sanchez S, Colegrove K, Schwacke LH, Hart L, Saliki J, Smith C, Goldstein T, Bowen-Stevens S, McFee W, Fougeres E, Mase-Guthrie B, Stratton E, Ewing R, Venn-Watson S, Carmichael RH, Clemon-Chevis C, Hatchett W, Shannon D, Shipee S, Smith S, Staggs L, Tumlin MC, Wingers NL, Rowles SK (2017) Evaluation of morbillivirus exposure in cetaceans from the northern Gulf of Mexico 2010-2014. Endang Species Res 33:211-220.

Zamuruyev KO, Aksenov AA, Baird M, Pasamontes A, Parry C, Foutouhi S, Venn-Watson S, Weimer BC, Jean-Pierre Delplanque JP, Davis CE (2016) Enhanced non-invasive respiratory sampling from bottlenose dolphins for optimum breath metabolomics measurements. J Breath Res 10:046005.

Sobolesky PM, Parry C, Boxall B, Wells R, Venn-Watson S, Janech MG (2016) Proteomic analysis of non-depleted serum proteins from bottlenose dolphins uncovers a high vanin-1 phenotype. Scientific Reports 6:33879.

Colegrove KM, Venn-Watson S, Litz J, Kinsel MJ, Terio KA, Fougeres E, Ewing R, Pabst DA, McLellan WA, Raverty S, Saliki J, Fire S, Rappucci G, Bowen-Stevens S, Noble L, Costidis A, Barbieri M, Field C, Smith S, Carmichael RH, Chevis C, Hatchett W, Shannon D, Tumlin M, Lovewell G, McFee W, Rowles TK (2016) Fetal distress and in utero pneumonia in perinatal dolphins during the Northern Gulf of Mexico unusual mortality event. Dis Aqua Org 119:1-16.

Bik E, Costello C, Switzer A, Callahan B, Holmes S, Wells R, Carlin K, Jensen E, Venn-Watson S, Relman D (2016) Marine mammals harbor unique microbiotas shaped by and yet distinct from the sea. Nature Comm 7:10516.

Eberle KC, Neill JD, Venn-Watson S, McGill JL, Sacco RE (2015) Novel Atlantic bottlenose dolphin parainfluenza virus TtPIV-1 clusters with bovine PIV-3 genotype B strains. Virus Genes 1-11.

Venn-Watson S, Parry C, Baird M, Stevenson S, Carlin K, Daniels R, Smith CR, Jones R, Wells RS, Ridgway S, Jensen ED (2015) Increased dietary intake of saturated fatty acid heptadecanoic acid (C17:0) associated with decreasing ferritin and alleviated metabolic syndrome in dolphins. PLOS ONE 10(7):e0132117.

Venn-Watson S, Colegrove KM, Litz J, Kinsel M, Terio K, et al (2015) Adrenal gland and lung lesions in Gulf of Mexico common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) found dead following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. PLOS ONE 10(5): e0126538. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126538.

Venn-Watson S, Jensen ED, Smith CR, Xitco M, Ridgway SH (2015) Annual survival, mortality, and longevity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, 2004-2013. J Am Vet Med Assoc 246:893-898.

Venn-Watson S, Garrison L, Litz J, Fougere E, Mase B, Rappucci G, Stratton G, Carmichael R, Odell D, Shannon D, Shippee S, Smith S, Staggs L, Tumlin M, Whitehead H, Rowles T (2015) Demographic clusters identified within the northern Gulf of Mexico common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) unusual mortality event: January 2010 - June 2013. PLOS ONE 10(2): e0117248.

Cortes-Hinojasa G, Gulland FMD, Goldstein T, Venn-Watson S, Rivera R, Waltzek TB, Salemi M, Wellehan JFX (2015) Phylogenomic characterization of California sea lion adenovirus-1. Infect Gen Evol 31:270-276.

Venn-Watson S (2014) Dolphins and Diabetes: Applying One Health for breakthrough discoveries. Front Endocrinol DOI 10.3389/fendo.2014.00227.

Phillips BE, Venn-Watson S, Archer LL, Nollens HH, Wellehan JFX (2014) Preliminary investigation of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) for HFE gene-related hemochromatosis. J Wild Dis. 50:891-895.

Smith CR, Poindexter JR, Meegan JM, Bobulescu IA, Jensen ED, Venn-Watson S, Sakhaee K (2014) Pathophysiological and physicochemical basis of ammonium urate stone formation in dolphins. J Urology. 10.1016/j.juro.2014.01.008.

Eberle KC, Waters TE, Jensen ED, Venn-Watson SK, Sacco RE (2013) Development and application of specific cytokine assays in tissue samples from a bottlenose dolphin with hyperinsulinemia. Frontiers Endo doi: 10.3389/fendo.2013.00134

Daniels R, Venn-Watson S, Smith CR (2013) Effects of freeze-thaw cycle on urine values from bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Aquat Mamm 39:330-334.

Smith CR, Venn-Watson S, Wells R, Johnson SP, Maffeo N, Balmer B, Rowles T, Schwacke L, Townsend F, Sakhaee K (2013) Comparisons of nephrolithiasis prevalence in two bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) populations. Frontiers Endo doi: 10.3389/fendo.2013.00145.

Venn-Watson S, Smith C, Stevenson S, Parry C, Daniels R, Jensen E, Cendejas V, Balmer B, Janech M, Neely BA, Wells R (2013) Blood-based indicators of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Frontiers Endo 4:136.

Diaz MA, Bik EM, Carlin KP, Venn-Watson SK, Jensen ED, Jones SE, Gaston EP, Relman DA, Versalovic J (2013) Identification of Lactobacillus strains with probiotic features from the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). J Clin Microbiol 115:1037-1051.

Argade S, Smith CR, Shaw T, Zupkas P, Schmitt TL, Venn-Watson S, Sur RL (2013) Solubility of ammonium acid urate nephroliths from bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). J Zoo Wildl Med 44:853-858.

Yeates L, Carlin KP, Baird M, Venn-Watson S, Ridgway S (2013) Nitric oxide in the breath of bottlenose dolphins: effects of breath hold duration, feeding, and lung disease. Mar Mamm Sci DOI: 10.1111/mms.12037.

Barbieri MM, Raverty S, Hanson MB, Venn-Watson SK, Ford JKB, Gaydos JK (2013) Spatial and temporal analysis of killer whale strandings in the North Pacific Ocean and the benefits of a coordinated stranding response protocol. Mar Mamm Sci DOI:10.1111/mms.12044.

Venn-Watson S, Carlin K, Andrews GA, Chavey PS, Mazzaro L (2013) Associations of ceruloplasmin and haptoglobin with inflammation and glucose in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) J Comp Clin Path DOI: 10.1007/s00580-013- 1738-0.

Smith CR, Jensen ED, Blankenship BA, Greenberg M, D’Agostini DA, Pretorius DH, Saenz NC, Noll N, Venn-Watson SK (2013) Fetal omphalocele in a common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 44: 87–92.

Venn-Watson S, Benham C, Gulland FMD, Smith CR, St. Leger J, Yochem P, Nollens H, Saliki JT, Colegrove K, Wellehan JFX, Rivera R (2012) Clinical relevance of novel Otarine herpesvirus-3 in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus): association with juvenile strandings and B cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. Vet Research 43:85.

Meegan J, Romano T, Venn-Watson S, Smith CR, Sidor I, Jensen ED, Van Bonn WG, Pugh R, Ficht T, Adams G, Dunn JL (2012) Serologic response in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) infected with Brucella sp. using a newly developed dolphin-specific indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. Dis Aquat Org 102:73-85.

Mazzaro LM, Johnson SP, Fair PA, Bossart G, Carlin KP, Jensen ED, Smith CR, Andrews GA, Chavey PS, Venn-Watson S (2012) Iron indices among bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): identifying populations at risk for iron overload. Comp Med 62:508-515.

Wellehan JFX, Rivera R, Archer LL, Benham C, JK Muller, KM Colegrove, FMD Gulland, JA St. Leger, S Venn-Watson, HH Nollens (2011) Characterization of California sea lion polyomavirus 1: expansion of the known host range of the Polyomaviridae to Carnivora. Infect, Gen, Evol 11:987-996.

Venn-Watson S, Smith CR, Gomez F, Jensen ED (2011) Physiology of aging among healthy, older bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): comparisons with aging humans. J Comp Phys B 181:667-680.

Venn-Watson S, Carlin K, Ridgway S (2011) Dolphins as animal models for type 2 diabetes: Sustained, postprandial hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia. Gen Comp Endocrin 170:193-199.

Venn-Watson S, Townsend FI, Daniels R, Sweeney J, McBain J, Klatsky L, Hicks C, Staggs L, Rowles T, Schwacke L, Wells RS, Smith CR (2010) Hypocitraturia in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Assessing a potential risk factor for urate nephrolithiasis. Comp Med 60:149-153.

Venn-Watson S, Smith CR, Daniels R, Townsend F (2010) Clinical relevance of urate nephrolithiasis in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Dis Aqua Org 89:167-177.

Rivera R, Nollens HH, Venn-Watson S, Gulland FMD, Wellehan FX (2010) Characterization of phylogenetically diverse astroviruses of marine mammals. J Gen Virol 91:166-173.

Wellehan JFX, Yu Fahong, Venn-Watson S, Jensen E, Smith C, Farmerie WB, Nollens HH (2010) Characterization of San Miguel Sea Lion Virus populations using pyrosequencing-based methods. Infect Genet Evol 10:254-260.

Nollens HH, Rivera R, Palacios G, Wellehan JFX, Saliki JT, Caseltine SL, Smith CR, Jensen ED, Hui J, Lipkin WI, Yochem PK, Wells RS, St. Leger J, Venn-Watson S (2009) New recognition of Enterovirus infections in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Vet Micro 139:170-175.

Johnson SP, Venn-Watson S, Cassle SE, Jensen ED, Smith CR, Ridgway SH (2009) Use of phlebotomy treatment in Atlantic bottlenose dolphins with iron overload. J Am Vet Med Assoc 235:194-200.

Ruiz CL, Nollens HH, Venn-Watson S, Green LG, Wells RS, Walsh MT, Nolan EC, McBain JF, Jacobson ER (2009) Baseline circulating immunoglobulin G levels in managed collection and free-ranging bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Dev Comp Immunol 33:449-455.

Sorensen K, Venn-Watson S, Ridgway S (2008) Association of trace elements with liver function in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). J Wildlf Dis 44: 304-317.

Venn-Watson S, Rivera R, Smith CR, Saliki JT, Caseltine S, St Leger J, Yochem P, Wells RS, Nollens H (2008) Exposure to novel parainfluenza virus and clinical relevance in two bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) populations. Emerg Infect Dis 14(3):397-405.

Nollens HH, Wellehan JF, Saliki JT, Caseltine SL, Jensen ED, Van Bonn W, Venn-Watson S (2008) Characterization of a parainfluenza virus isolated from a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Vet Microbiol;128(3-4):231-42.

Wong S (Venn-Watson S), Marcus R, Hawkins M, Shallow S, McCombs KG, Swanson E, Anderson B, Shiferaw B, Garman R, Noonan K, Van Gilder T: Emerging Infections Program FoodNet Working Group (2004) Physicians as food-safety educators: a practices and perceptions survey. Clin Infect Dis 38 Suppl 3:S212-8.

Dubey JP, Zarnke R, Thomas NJ, Wong SK, Van Bonn W, Briggs M, Davis JW, Ewing R, Mense M, Kwok OC, Romand S, Thulliez P (2003) Toxoplasma gondii, Neospora caninum, Sarcocystis neurona, and Sarcocystis canis-like infections in marine mammals. Vet Parasitol 116(4):275-96.

Crump JA, Sulka AC, Langer AJ, Schaben C, Crielly AS, Gage R, Baysinger M, Moll M, Withers G, Toney DM, Hunter SB, Hoekstra RM, Wong SK, Griffin PM, Van Gilder TJ (2002) An outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among visitors to a dairy farm. N Engl J Med 347(8):555-60.

Glaser C, Lewis P, Wong S (2000) Pet-, animal-, and vector-borne infections. Pediatr Rev 21(7):219-32.

Wong SK, Feinstein LH, Heidmann P (1999) Healthy Pets, Healthy People. J Am Vet Med Assoc 215(3):335-8.

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