President, Chief Scientist, Inventor, Founder

Dick DeSa, or “Chief” as he is widely known, has devoted his life to instrument design and computerization. His expertise spans electronics, optics, software, biochemistry, and engineering.

A pivotal day took place in 1976 when the University of Michigan placed their order for the first commercial ‘Olis” product. Within six years, there was sufficient business activity to encourage Dr. DeSa to resign from his position as associate professor of biochemistry at the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Marcia, operated the company on a shoestring, meaning they designed and hand-produced everything from the comfort of their home with the help of a revolving pool of young men and women, most of whom moved on to successful academic and corporate positions. Dr. DeSa wrote the software and designed the electronics; Marcia wired the electronics, did the paperwork, paid the bills, and dealt with the bank. (Today, Marcia remains the company Secretary/ Treasurer).

In 2009, two unusually challenging projects were offered which Dr. DeSa accepted. One came from Prof Russ Middaugh of KU School of Pharmacy. The challenge was to create a single workstation capable of following thermal melts of proteins using CD, fluorescence, scatter, and absorbance simultaneously. The resulting Protein Machine is now being offered in five forms, providing a multiple-probe resource which eliminates the need for different spectrophotometers, samples, and technicians, reducing dramatically the time, effort, energy, and cost of studying proteins and other macromolecules with different measurements.

The second project was to develop an absorbance spectrophotometer which can get the correct answer on turbid sample suspensions. Culling the best ideas from Britton Chance to Tamas Javorfi (a 50+ year span), Chief has achieved a suspension presentation chamber which eliminates the affect of scatter, so that one can now work with cells and organelles in their whole, living, and messy native state! The resulting Clarity Series includes three models which offer millisecond scanning, so that electron transport can be monitored as cells undergo metabolic reactions.

Relevant Publications

“Robust Multicomponent Analysis applied to the Separation of Components in a mixture of Absorbing Species.” I. B. C. Matheson and R. J. DeSa, Computers and Chemistry, 14, 157-164 (1990).

“Rapid-scanning Stopped-flow Study of the Oxidation of PMNH2 by O2 Catalyzed by Bacterial Luciferase.”  G. J. Faini, Richard J. DeSa, and John Lee, Flavins and Flavoproteins, T. P. Singer, Chapter 7 (1976).

“Recording Polarization of Fluorescence Spectrometer – A Unique Application of Piezoelectric Birefringence Modulation.”  John E. Wampler and Richard J. DeSa, Analytical Chemistry, 46563 (1974).

“A Laboratory Computer System for Biochemical Research.” Richard J. DeSa, Computers in Chemical and Biochemical Research, 1, (1972).

“An On-Line Spectrofluorimeter System for Rapid Collection of Absolute Luminescence Spectra.”John E. Wampler and Richard J. DeSa, Applied Spectroscopy, 25, No. 6, 623-627 (1971).

“A Practical Automatic Data Acquisition System for Stopped-flow Spectrophotometry.”
R. J. DeSa and Q. H. Gibson, Computers and Biomedical Research, 2, 494-505 (1969).