Aspiring Biotech Entrepreneurs Chosen for New Mentoring Program

May 27, 2010

MassBio launches MassCONNECT, matches researchers with seasoned mentors to spur commercialization and new company creation

Eleven Massachusetts scientists and budding entrepreneurs have been chosen for a new mentoring program that pairs them with seasoned biotechnology professionals for evaluation and advice.

MassCONNECT, a program launched this week by MassBio, aims to enable everything from better licensing deals to new company start-up through individualized mentoring and industry networking.

“MassBio’s 2015 Report highlighted the disconnect between academia, where some of the great ideas live, and industry, which has the expertise to commercialize,” said Imran Nasrullah, Chief Business Officer at MassBio and the head of MassCONNECT. “We are thrilled to be able to convene a network of industry experts in order to help new entrepreneurs get their technologies or platforms off the ground.”

The applicants chosen for the first round of mentorship are:

Vincent Fusaro, Ph.D., Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D., Larry Istrail and Adam Marcus
Application: PhotoCalorie™ is a new Apple iPhone application that can be used for visual diet journaling. Simply by taking a picture of a meal or snack, and after entering a short description, PhotoCalorie will estimate the calorie and nutritional content of the snack or meal and produce daily summaries of the calories and nutrients consumed.


Adam Wolfberg, M.D., MPH
Application: Preview Diagnostics ( helps obstetricians, midwives, and family practice physicians improve the quality of prenatal care and prenatal diagnostic services they provide to their patients. Preview Diagnostics' software collects information from pregnant women through tablet- and web-based interfaces, provides interactive counseling about screening options for heritable conditions (such as Down syndrome), and applies decision-support algorithms to guide clinicians toward evidence-based care.


Adam Wolfberg, M.D., MPH, Gari Clifford, Ph.D., Jay Ward and Jim Robertson
Application: MindChild Medical Inc. is focused on making obstetric care safer and less expensive through the use of revolutionary fetal electrophysiological monitoring. MindChild’s Meridian monitor will enter the market in 2011 through the FDA 510(k) process. More reliable than Doppler ultrasound-based technology, and introducing the safety of ST-segment evaluation without the need for an invasive electrode, MindChild’s Meridian monitor will fundamentally change fetal evaluation. MindChild’s Meridian monitor will replace existing technology with a reliable, cost-effective, comfortable system for fetal heart rate and fetal ECG monitoring.


Fatemah Mojtabai, Ph.D.
Application: Novatarg is a pharmaceutical drug discovery and diagnostic company focused on developing specialized membrane protein targeted products that address significant unmet needs for a wide range of serious and debilitating diseases including cancer, cardiac disorders, diabetes, allergy, inflammation as well as Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative and central nervous system disorders. Novatarg will manufacture and commercialize membrane protein targeted therapies and companion molecular diagnostic devices.


Lisa Ganley-Leal, Ph.D. and John Connor, Ph.D.
Application: Epsilon Therapeutics was founded in October 2009 on the principle that understanding mechanisms for immunological homeostasis will lead to effective therapeutics not only to treat, but also to prevent, chronic inflammatory disease. Epsilon Therapeutics will harness the mechanisms used in cross-talk between the human immune system and parasitic worms to develop effective and safe treatments for chronic disease.


Each of the mentee groups will be paired with a team of 5-6 mentors with expertise that fits their need. The mentors and mentees will meet several times over the next two months to collaborate on a business plan for the proposed new technology or platform. The program culminates with mentee groups making their first pitch to a small group of venture capitalists and other possible investors.

Applications were reviewed by industry experts from various sectors of the biotechnology ecosystem, including representatives from venture capital, angel capital, and biotechnology and pharma business development. Screeners evaluated applications on a scale of "business readiness".

MassCONNECT is open to life sciences-based, pre-seed and seed stage opportunities arising from New England based laboratories. The venture must involve the development of a new products, services, applications, or process in the life sciences area.  Typically, these will include new diagnostic tests, pre-clinical therapeutic molecules, platform technologies, and/ or instrumentation. The program is run with generous support from KPMG as a founding sponsor.

For more information, or to apply to be a mentor or mentee, visit




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