MassBio® Welcomes Four Life Sciences and Digital Health Startups to Participate in MassCONNECT® Summer Mentorship Cycle

Jun 18, 2019

Entrepreneurs showcased their technology to industry experts and potential mentors

June 19, 2019 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — MassBio®’s MassCONNECT®, the only mentoring program in Massachusetts that is solely dedicated to serving the needs of early-stage entrepreneurs in the life sciences, yesterday kicked off its second cycle of 2019 with a technology showcase. During the event, the four chosen life sciences startups presented their technologies to a room of industry executives and potential mentors for early feedback. Born out of Massachusetts’s vast innovative ecosystem, this cycle’s startups presented biomimetic neuroscience discovery platforms, digital health solutions for addiction, personalized cancer care treatment sensors, and drug discovery platform using the gut microbiome data.

This MassCONNECT cycle is being sponsored by Pepper Hamilton LLP. Evaluate is an in-kind sponsor of this cycle.

“Each year, we are inspired by the groundbreaking innovations and transformative ideas presented by the life sciences entrepreneurs participating in the MassCONNECT program,” said Steven R. London, partner in the Health Sciences Department of Pepper Hamilton LLP. “It is exciting to work with these startups in their early days, helping to guide them in the development of their plans and strategy, and we thank MassCONNECT and MassBio for that opportunity.”

Following this week’s showcase, entrepreneurs will be paired with a team of mentors, based on their individual objectives and needs, for eight weeks of hands-on coaching as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies and raise capital. The startups will then present in front of potential investors and partners.

The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:


Co-founders: J. Lowry Curley, PhD; Michael J. Moore, PhD; Ben Cappiello

AxoSim is the premier provider of biomimetic neuroscience discovery platforms. Their proprietary Nerve-on-a-Chip and Minibrain technologies rapidly deliver clinically actionable human data, allowing theirbiopharma partners to develop safer, more effective drugs with greater speed and efficiency.

Lumme Labs

Co-founders: Akshaya Shanmugam, PhD; Abhinav Parate, PhD; Deepak Ganesan, PhD; Sherry McKee, PhD; Chris Salthouse, PhD

Lumme is a digital health company developing a continuous health monitoring and intervention platform. Their first product is an automated, personalized, clinically validated smoking cessation platform. This work is an outcome of research conducted at UMass Amherst, co-developed with the Yale Medical School, and overseen by the National Cancer Institute.

Stratagen Bio

Co-founders: Gregory Ekchian, PhD and Michael Cima, PhD

Stratagen Bio is developing a new class of oxygen sensors to enable personalized cancer care based on tumor oxygen levels and distribution.


Co-founders: Kareem Barghouti, MBA; Peter McCaffrey, MD; Kovi Bessoff, MD, PhD; Ayin Vala, MS

VastBiome is a drug discovery platform mining the gut microbiome for novel immunomodulatory drugs. They leverage whole genome shotgun sequencing to identify and capture features of the microbial metagenome responsible for chemical synthesis. Their AI pipeline (VBx1) learns the relationships between these signatures and host phenotype, revealing the genomic blueprints for undiscovered drugs.

“We welcome this inspiring group of innovators into Cycle II and look forward to helping them catalyze their ideas,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer at MassBio. “We want to recognize and express our gratitude to the MassCONNECT mentors for the gift of their time and to Evaluate and Pepper Hamilton for their generous sponsorship.”



MassBio’s MassCONNECT program is the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences. MassCONNECT matches entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life sciences professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. The MassCONNECT process involves a two-month mentorship where industry experts guide entrepreneurs as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies, and raise capital. MassCONNECT mentors evaluate and provide feedback on commercial feasibility; identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and team up to furnish industry-specific business advice for innovative ideas in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices and health IT. Entrepreneurs gain invaluable advice and coaching on defining value proposition, developing pitches and building professional networks. For more information, or to apply to be a mentor, mentee or MBA project manager, visit

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