University of Maryland

PathOtrak has a mission is to enable a world with fresher, safer food and make food outbreaks a thing of the past. Our approach is to eliminate food safety risks in the food industry by delivering the right technologies at the right price, technologies that will save costs for producers, time for food-safety labs, and most importantly, technologies that will save lives. PathOtrak offers Foodborne Pathogen Detection Kits, a 4 hour solution that replaces the traditional 22 hour enrichment and integrates into the detection system of your choice. PathOtrak’s Next Generation Enrichment meets and exceeds the pathogen sensitivity and exclusivity of traditional enrichment according to the requirements by FDA and USDA regulations.


Javier Atencia, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, has over 10 years of project leader experience at UMD/NIST in microbiology and microfluidics. He has published his research work in Nature and other journals. He is the inventor of Pathotrak’s award-winning technology and holds 8 patents (three licensed; one to Intel). Javier leads strategy, creative design, implementation, and operations for Pathotrak. He brings to the team a multidisciplinary background leading cross-disciplinary teams and working with large strategic partners on cutting edge solutions.

Akbar Dawood, CFO, an ex-Investment Banker and VC-backed serial entrepreneur with one successful exit, and over 10 years of entrepreneurial experience, cofounder of Grafiti, and part of the team that created the DC I-Corps node, as well as an NSF I-Corps mentor and advisor. Akbar leads the fundraising, customer acquisition, and marketing operations at Pathotrak. As a venture-backed entrepreneur, he brings experience with raising venture capital, launching, and scaling B2B products, building sales, and marketing teams, creating and scaling multi-channel marketing and awareness campaigns, as well as managing company finances.

Heidi Leonard, Head of R&D, has a Ph.D. in Biotechnology and Food Engineering and M.S. in Chemistry, and is an expert in chemistry, microbiology, and bacterial detection. She has published in various journals. Heidi received a National Research Council postdoctoral research associateship beginning in 2018. She has previously consulted for manufacturing and biotech companies.

Ethan Reggia, Head of Engineering at Pathotrak, has a B.S. in mechanical engineering. Previously, he served as Design Program Manager at UMD’s Terrapin Works where he served as, where he led 30+ engineers in electrical, software, and mechanical design teams, completing over 50 projects in two years. Clients included NASA UAS/NOAA, JHU APL, Northrop Grumman, and NRL.