The Sequence of Events

Instead of becoming the rockstar of his childhood dreams, Trey Martin became the president of a multi-million dollar company that’s leading the rise of MedTech in Iowa. A gig with his high school garage band, however, did help him get the job. Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Coralville, Iowa, is a supplier of custom nucleic acids, serving the areas of academic research, biotechnology, clinical diagnostics, and pharmaceutical development, leading the rise of MedTech in Iowa.

Martin began working at IDT as a sophomore in college after meeting Joe Walder, the founder, in the University of Iowa lab. Martin started working for them over spring break and was the assistant manager by the next year. “The only way I can explain it is that I just understood the business,” says Martin. “These were commercial DNA synthesizers . . . we started to tweak the chemistry and started to develop the flywheel of IDT, which is synthetic nucleic acids. So when you read about gene therapy and nextgeneration sequencing and personalized cancer monitoring, at the end of the day, all of those technologies are enabled with nucleic acids.”

Today IDT is a key partner for the CDC and WHO. Rapid-response supply chain is part of the game as most laboratories don’t know the sequence of the needed nucleic acid until they are nearly ready for their next experiment, and IDT typically prepares and ships within 24 hours. This is just one of the reasons why the company has been part of the response to a number of global diseases, including SARS and COVID-19, where their probes and primer products are a key part of test kits. The company has offices in San Francisco and Belgium, as well as partners around the world, but the lion’s share of the work is done in its global headquarters in Coralville. “We design and build the DNA synthesizers we use globally here, we write the software here, we blend the chemistry that is used and ship it globally from here,” says Martin.