Four New Companies Debut at MassCONNECT Showcase

Dec 30, 2015

Baxalta and Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP Sponsor Mentorship Program Cycle

Four startup companies working to inhibit cancer tumor growth, detect malaria more quickly, protect heart tissue following heart attacks, and better match patients and clinical trials to speed drug development have been chosen for a new cycle of the MassCONNECT mentoring program, sponsored by Baxalta and Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, MassBio announced today.

MassCONNECT, the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences industry, kicked off its second cycle of 2015 with a Technology Showcase at LabCentral this morning. At the Showcase, the chosen entrepreneurs presented their ideas to a room of industry executives and potential mentors for early feedback.

The entrepreneurs will now be matched with mentor teams that possess expertise specific to the entrepreneurs’ objectives and business needs. The entrepreneurs will receive coaching from these mentors over a 10-week period before presenting in a final session in front of venture capitalists and other potential partners.

Baxalta and Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP are sponsoring this MassCONNECT cycle and are providing mentors for the entrepreneur teams.

“As a new member of the local biotech community, we at Baxalta are eager to partner with MassBio to offer mentoring to promising entrepreneurs as they try to develop innovative ideas,” said Frank Borriello, VP, Head of Search and Evaluation at Baxalta.

“We are very excited to be working with MassCONNECT and these forward-thinking entrepreneurs,” said William B. Asher, Partner and co-chair of the Life Sciences Group at Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP.  “We represent life science companies at every stage in their business lifecycle and look forward to helping these start-ups position themselves for fundraising and future marketplace success. These young companies are an important part of our region’s vibrant life sciences innovation environment and it is an honor to be supporting this program as a mentor and sponsor.”

The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:

ACANS Pharmaceuticals

Dimitar Alargov, PhD; Gerhard Wagner, PhD 

ACANS Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical startup involved in the discovery, development and commercialization of a new class of oncology drugs focused on a new universal target for the suppression of tumor growth.

Disease Diagnostic Group

John Lewandowski, PhD Candidate

Brighton, MA

Disease Diagnostic Group ( is using magnets and light to detect malaria and other infectious diseases in less than 60 seconds at 1/10th the cost and 100x the detection limit of current solutions.


Nicole Bucala, MBA; Jernej Godec, PhD Candidate

New Haven, CT; Boston, MA

MIFCOR ( is developing a first-in-class biologic therapeutic that targets a novel biological pathway to protect tissue from cell death associated with heart attacks, acute kidney injury, and other indications. 


Isaac Kohane, MD, PhD; Griffin Weber, MD, PhD          

Pretium is developing a medical informatics-based platform to better match patients with clinical trials, accelerate recruitment, cut overall trial costs and ultimately reduce healthcare costs.

Past MassCONNECT graduates have leveraged the skills learned and advice provided through the program to secure industry collaborations, investment and grants, recruit company executives, and win other industry and business plan competitions.

“The quality and potential of the four startups in Cycle II reinforce that the Massachusetts cluster is a fertile source of innovation,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer at MassBio. “We are pleased to partner with Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, Baxalta, and the MassCONNECT mentors to help accelerate the commercial trajectory of ACANS Pharmaceuticals, Disease Diagnostic Group, MIFCOR, and Pretium, and build the next generation of life science companies in Massachusetts.”

MassCONNECT is open to opportunities that involve the development of new technologies, products, services, applications, or processes in the life sciences area. Typically, these will include new diagnostic tests, pre-clinical therapeutic molecules, platform technologies, and/or instrumentation.

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

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