MassBio® Welcomes Four Life Sciences Startups to Participate in MassCONNECT® Spring Mentorship Cycle

Feb 28, 2019

Entrepreneurs presented ideas to industry experts and potential mentors at technology showcase

February 28, 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 first cycle of 2019 with a technology showcase. During the event, the four chosen life sciences startups presented their ideas to a room of industry executives and potential mentors for early feedback. Their research represents the incredible innovation coming out of Massachusetts, with this cycle’s cohort focused on developing engineered bacteria for cancer therapies, onco-selective messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for cancer immunotherapy, novel cell therapies for blood and bone marrow diseases, and using mixed reality and machine learning to enhance drug discovery.

This MassCONNECT cycle is being sponsored by Bayer, Evaluate and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

“As an active member of the Boston innovation community, Bayer is excited to partner with the MassCONNECT program to advance patient-centric scientific ideas,” said Chandra Ramanathan, Vice President, Head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer. “We are proud to support and mentor entrepreneurs seeking new ways to develop better treatments for patients, faster.”

“Evaluate is delighted to continue our partnership with MassCONNECT and support the vibrant community of Massachusetts life science innovators,” said Alex Karle, CEO, Evaluate Ltd. “We look forward to providing the commercial insights that can help shape their path forward.”

“Given the critical importance of supporting new technologies and innovations from early-stage life sciences entrepreneurs, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is once again proud to be a part of the MassCONNECT program to help develop and advance these ideas into the clinic, and ultimately to the patients,” said Clark Lin, Associate, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. “We are very excited to work with this new cycle of companies and the bright and talented minds behind them.”

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:

Ernest Pharmaceuticals
Co-founders: Neil Forbes, PhD and Nele Van Dessel, PhD

Ernest Pharmaceuticals is creating a new bacterial toolbox for cancer therapies that will increase translation of cutting-edge discoveries into clinical treatments.

In Virtu Data Solutions
Co-founders: Pavel Terentiev, PhD; Dmitry Korkin, PhD

In Virtu Data Solutions provides a novel approach to data analytics and 3D visualization of complex biological data to streamline the search for new drug targets.

Kernal Biologics
Co-founders: Yusuf Erkul, MD; Burak Yilmaz, MS; Cafer Ozdemir, PhD

Kernal Biologics, Inc. is a seed-stage, synthetic biology company developing onco-selective messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for cancer immunotherapy using deep learning algorithms.

L Stem Therapeutics
Founder: Dhvanit I. Shah, Ph.D.

L Stem Therapeutics is developing hematopoietic stem cell-based cellular therapies using state-of-the-art 4D bio-printing, nanofabrication, and stem cell engineering technologies. 

“MassCONNECT has earned a brand and reputation as the premier early-stage mentoring program for life science entrepreneurs and we are excited and honored to reinforce that status by welcoming Ernest Pharmaceuticals, In Virtu Data Solutions, Kernal Biologics and L Stem Therapeutics into the MassCONNECT community,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer at MassBio. “We extend heartfelt thanks and appreciation to our partners Bayer, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Evaluate for their generous sponsorship of this cycle and for their ongoing support of early-stage entrepreneurs.”


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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