Four New Entrepreneurs Selected for MassCONNECT Mentoring

February 7, 2012


Clark & Elbing LLP sponsor latest MassBio cycle to spur commercialization & company creation

February 7, 2012 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — Entrepreneurs developing nanoparticle insulin envisioned as Insulin Chewing Gum, soft tissue regenerative therapies for battlefield wounds, an app for autism screening, and an entirely new class of chemotherapy drugs will learn from seasoned life sciences executives in the next round of MassCONNECT.

MassCONNECT, MassBio’s unique mentorship program, kicked off its first cycle for 2012 today with a Technology Showcase featuring pitches from four participants chosen for their innovative ideas in drug discovery, development or delivery. These scientist-entrepreneurs are matched with seasoned biotechnology professionals for evaluation and advice as they work toward raising capital and building business plans for their start-ups.

“There is a 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.”

Clark&ElbingThis cycle of MassCONNECT is sponsored by Clark & Elbing LLP, an intellectual property law firm that focuses on biotechnology, medicine, and chemistry. Clark & Elbing LLP is providing four mentors for the cycle: Michael Belliveau, James DeCamp, Cooper McDonald, and Susan Michaud.

”Clark & Elbing is excited to be participating in this cycle of MassCONNECT,” said Michael Belliveau, Partner at Clark & Elbing. “MassBio has selected an outstanding cohort of mentees.”

The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:


Manijeh Nazari Goldberg, MS, MBA, CEO
Application: Privo Technologies is working on a novel non-invasive nanoparticle drug delivery platform. One of the drug choices is insulin in chewing gum for type II diabetics. Privo’s Insulin Chewing Gum is a new needle-less product made up of proprietary nano-encapsulation, controlled-release, and oral-absorption technologies. Treatment compliance, convenience, and long shelf life give Privo’s product powerful advantages over existing and emerging insulin delivery-methods (injections, oral, inhaled).

Christopher Malcuit, Ph.D., COO
Application: Cellthera Inc is focused on soft tissue regeneration. Their novel cell culture system combined with a unique biological micro-thread scaffold is capable of remodeling large scale muscle wounds. Studies have shown 80% reduced scar formation and nearly 100% muscle function restoration. Funded by DARPA/DSO, NIH, and WPI, this technology can be applied to battlefield wounds, reconstructive plastic surgeries, and potentially as a therapeutic for Duchenne Muscular dystrophy.                                                                                                                     

Patrick Stern, Ph.D., CEO
Application: Sextant Therapeutics Inc ( is working on an interesting novel drug discovery platform technology that analyzes tumor signaling and responses to chemotherapy for pre-clinical research that vastly improves our understanding of how chemotherapy fights cancer and will allow them to develop more effective combinations of existing chemotherapeutic agents to fight the most deadly cancers. Long term, Sextant plans to develop an entirely new class of chemotherapy drugs that will directly recruit a patient’s immune responses to eliminate cancer. Sextant is currently looking to raise their first round of venture financing.

Dennis P. Wall, Ph.D.
Application: This novel technology from the Harvard Office of Technology Development is a mobile health technology focused on autism screening and diagnosis. Its unique and proprietary algorithms for screening and risk assessment using 2-5 minute videos of the subject are readily incorporated into routine child assessment and reduce diagnosis time by 95%. This technology has demonstrated a near 100% accuracy rate.


Each of these mentees will be paired with a team of 5-6 mentors and a second year MBA student with expertise that fits their needs. 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 mentees making their first pitch to a small group of venture capitalists and other possible investors. To date approximately 14% of MassCONNECT graduates have received funding following their graduation from the program.

MassCONNECT is open to all life sciences-based, pre-seed and seed stage opportunities. 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.

Applications for the program 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".

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

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