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South Valley Riverton Journal

Canyon Labs: Researching and breathing new life into Bluffdale

Apr 09, 2024 01:53PM ● By Dylan Wilcox

Canyon Labs, its headquarters in Bluffdale, is a biotechnology research company that specializes in medical device and pharmaceutical products. (Courtesy Canyon Labs)

Housed in a non-descript but modern warehouse converted into office space off Redwood Road, upon walking into Canyon Labs’ headquarters in Bluffdale, one can see that this company is poised for growth. 

“When we first moved into this space, we wanted the ability to build up and out,” Executive Vice President of Operations Clint Christiansen explained on a tour through the lab. “We quite literally watched as this place was built,” he said. The sprawling space is reminiscent of an airplane hangar, except it’s being outfitted to conduct a variety of microbiological tests and is located directly across a quarry with a panoramic view into both Salt Lake and Utah counties. 

The location was deliberate, CEO and President of Canyon Labs, Sarah Rosenblum-Ptach, says. Ptach (pronounced PUH-tack) explains that Canyon Labs is nestled between the bourgeoning tech hub of the Silicon Slopes in Lehi and the up-and-coming biotechnology sphere that exists in Salt Lake.

Ptach explains that Bluffdale was chosen “not only for its relation to the Silicon Slopes, but also the appetite for supporting businesses here is great. The talent pool is great. Being highly technical as we are, the talent pool is amazing, which is being fed from the academic culture here and the pharma ecosystem in the Salt Lake Valley.”

Canyon Labs is a biotechnology research company that specializes in medical device and pharmaceutical products. The lab opened its doors in April 2020, right at the onset of COVID-19. Christiansen, who is one of the founding employees of Canyon Labs, says that establishing a business during the pandemic proved quite a challenge.

“Canyon Labs had its inception during the pandemic, of course we all felt that such a business could help with such situations,” Christiansen said. “But it was tough getting things together at first.” 

After a 15-year stint with Ultradent, Christiansen was brought on to help lead and build up a subsidiary of Ultradent. Christiansen, a native of Idaho, said he has worked in various capacities in the life sciences industry. He has lived and worked in Utah nearly his whole career and the founding of Canyon Labs was the logical next step.

“The [original] owners [at Ultradent] decided to sell their laboratory testing capabilities and they were bought out by Medventure Health last year,” Christiansen said.

Medventure Health, a venture capital firm based in Salt Lake City, has funded several biotechnology businesses in a wide array of locations from Indiana to Israel with companies such as Biomerics and Portal, among others. Canyon Labs officially merged with Medventure Health in October 2023.

Amanda Wade, the human resources manager at Canyon Labs described the company culture as a desire to be part of something big and achieving success in unity. “I think it’s almost like a hunger, everyone here wants to work together to make things happen,” Wade said.

Wade said that they are evaluating ways to provide internships and opportunities for young professionals wanting their first break into the biotechnology industry. Ptach and Wade feel they are in the position to help foster professionals within the local community.

Dr. David Gallegos, director of analytical chemistry at Canyon Labs says that he loves being part of the company as it gives him flexibility and the chance to design product testing from the ground up.

“We want to service the medical and pharmaceutical industries in establishing safety with products for those who use them,” Gallegos said. Gallegos, a native of Utah who received his doctoral degree in Oregon, returned to Utah and began his post-doctoral career in facilitating extractable and leachable testing at Canyon Labs. He shared that he likes working with start-ups because of the ability to establish good practices for testing and building up from there.

Christiansen said that the company name came as a result of a “painful” search. 

“Search for the name was so hard at first,” he explains. “It was simple, and we like the capability of the logo. Initially, the logo was supposed to be representative of statistical distribution. It was fortuitous that it looks like a statistical distribution but also fits with the look of a canyon, then it morphed into what it was,” Christiansen said. 

The purple and orange color scheme reflects the sunsets normally found in the southwest deserts. Due to limited availability of malleable names, the team avoided the company feel through its name as being “sterile” but wanted it to be representative of the state of Utah.

Bluffdale Mayor Natalie Hall toured the facility with her team in August 2023. She was amazed by the space and was excited to welcome Canyon Labs into the community.

“We love Canyon Labs,” Hall said. “We look forward to having them be a long-standing partner with our community.”. Hall notes that Bluffdale’s development is burgeoning and businesses like Canyon Labs is a testament to that growth.

“One of my goals when I first became mayor is to open up its very first store,” Hall said. And now, the mostly rural, horse-property community is increasing in size as businesses begin opening their doors along Redwood Road down into Saratoga Springs. Intermountain Health opened its new children’s hospital just down the road in Lehi as well, bringing new life into various sectors within the crossroads of Salt Lake and Utah counties.

“Their facility is state-of-the art, and we are glad that Canyon Labs chose Bluffdale as their home,” Hall said.

Ptach says that Canyon Labs is looking for ways to help strengthen ties with the community. Ideas from community service to offering localized internships at the lab are being entertained. 

“We’re trying to figure that out now, we’re seeing what’s the best way to interact with the community, and it’s great to see our team growing from Bluffdale and surrounding areas. We want to participate in the community and its growth, too,” Ptach said. 

Ptach says that the future of Canyon Labs is bright and is confident that the company and the community’s futures are intertwined.

“I want to thank the folks before us – there are a lot of folks that came before us to bring this positive environment. Thank you for paving the way and it’s facilitating us being here. And what we have to give back to the community, we want to create technical roles that they can grow in their careers. We’re hoping that we can have a positive impact,” Ptach said. λ