C is for Community

Going beyond the science to create an environment that fosters health and wellness

Following an unusually wet winter in Southern California, San Diego is now experiencing one of the biggest floral blooms on record, the sun is shining, and spring is in full force.  This means we are dusting off our bicycles, gym shoes, and golf clubs in preparation for another incredible year of activities that are just one part of our COI community.

Tour de COI

Nothing says ‘you’re a part of this team’ like matching jerseys, and at COI that is no different.  If you’ve had the joy of cheering on bicyclists at Padres Pedal the Cause you may have noticed red or blue bike jerseys proudly bearing the COI logo.

Tour de COI group photo.

These jerseys became a COI icon about two years ago when Dr. Lichter, an avid road biker, was gifted the first jersey.  He liked it so much he had a several more made and put out a challenge to the company saying, “you’re welcome to have a COI jersey, but you have to come ride with me.”  So in July of 2015, Fran Senchak, COI’s vice president of human resources and administration, stepped up to the challenge, was presented a jersey, and biked 32 miles with Dr. Lichter.

By October of that year, interest in the jerseys and participating in the ride had spread.  Thirty-one employees and spouses joined in the for second ride that followed the Pacific Coast Highway from Solana Beach to Oceanside Beach and back.  This ride was the beginning of what is now referred to as ‘Tour de COI.’

Flanked by their very own safety vehicle that helps with popped tires, provides water, or acts as a shuttle, there have now been four tours.  The latest one took place on March 31, 2017 and covered 24 miles around Liberty Station and Fiesta Island. Each ride concludes with a stop for a bite to eat and socializing.

“The whole event is a great time for everyone to get to know each other on another level.  We are all there to have fun, take the ride at our own pace, and enjoy the day. I have been on all four tours and continue to look forward to participating in many more to come,” stated Mrs. Senchak


“A healthy body can help keep a healthy mind, which supports a healthy workplace,” says Sandy Madigan, Ph.D., senior vice president of business development at COI.  That is one of the reasons he participates in the company’s fitness class, called COI PHITClub.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, rain or shine, employees gather to participate in what Mrs. Senchak says is “sometimes the longest hour of our lives, but it is always worth it!”

Paul Healing, trainer for PHIT Group corporate fitness training, leads 9-30 COI employees through a rigorous workout that emphasizes partner training and supporting each other through challenges to reach a common goal.

“It’s a great opportunity to interact outside of the company walls in a no pressure, highly supportive environment,” comments Dr. Madigan. “Activities like PHITClub and the Tour de COI are really what make COI a place unlike any other in the industry.  We are unique collection of motivated industry entrepreneurs and researchers who work hard, but also have fun together.  This comradery plays a big part in contributing to the innovation we are achieving at COI.”

Beyond COI

Recognizing that it takes more than just thriving within the company to have meaningful impact on your environment, COI is also committed to supporting local events and charities throughout the San Diego area.

COI employees ride to raise money for San Diego cancer research at Padres Pedal the Cause.

COI’s affinity for biking, the team mentality, and a passion for meaningful research extends to yearly participation in Padres Pedal the Cause, which raises funding for cancer research at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. The goal is to fund research that may lead to a cure for cancer.  Last year, COI employees teamed up to ride for the cause and another big turnout is expected at this year’s event happening November 11-12 in downtown San Diego.

COI employees tee off at the Biocom Charity Golf Tournament supporting the Biocom Institute and the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering.

COI also provides yearly support as a team sponsor for the annual Biocom Charity Golf Tournament.  This year, to show our commitment to advancing scientific endeavors throughout the nation, COI was a silver level sponsor for March for Science – San Diego, which took place April 22.

To learn more about the leadership team that remains the foundation for building the COI community check out our team page and sign up for our newsletter to remain up to date on all the fun.