New Startups Debut at MassCONNECT Showcase

Jul 14, 2016

Pepper Hamilton Sponsors Mentorship Program Cycle

This MassCONNECT class includes entrepreneurs working to cure metastatic cancer, 3D print human tissues, diagnose brain disorders more effectively and connect patients to clinical trials more efficiently.

From left, Sol Chen, Evan Ehrenberg, David Kolesky, Kimberly Homan, Alexandra Zimmerman and Marina Chan after their companies presented at MassBio’s MassCONNECT Showcase.

July 14, 2016 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — Startup companies working to cure metastatic cancer, 3D print human tissues, diagnose brain disorders more effectively and connect patients to clinical trials more efficiently have been chosen for a new cycle of the MassCONNECT mentoring program, sponsored by Pepper Hamilton 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 2016 with a Technology Showcase 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 are now 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 two-month period before presenting in a final session in front of potential investors and partners.

Pepper Hamilton is sponsoring this MassCONNECT cycle and providing mentors for the entrepreneur teams.

“Pepper Hamilton is thrilled to support MassCONNECT for the fifth year in a row,” said Tom Engellenner, partner in the Intellectual Property Department of Pepper Hamilton LLP. “We’ve gathered a group of our top IP and corporate attorneys to help coach the best and brightest entrepreneurs to develop cutting-edge technologies that may redefine the life sciences industry as we know it.”

The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:

Alexander P. Lin, PhD; Alexandra Zimmerman, MS, MBA

BrainSpec ( is a software platform that enables the efficient, accurate and non-invasive diagnosis of brain disorders using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). MRS has applications in Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury and many other conditions. 

Chestnut Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Marina Chan, PhD; Taran Gujral, PhD; Marc Kirschner, PhD; Gavin MacBeath, PhD
Brookline, MA

Chestnut Pharmaceuticals Inc.  is seeking a cure for metastatic cancers. The company is targeting their oncology therapeutics toward a ‘master switch’ they discovered that enables cancer cells to undergo a major cellular transition to adopt an aggressive state and become metastatic while impairing the immune system through several distinct mechanisms. 

Vascular Tissue Biomanufacturing (Vast Bio)
Kimberly Homan PhD; David Kolesky PhD; Prof. Jennifer Lewis, Sc. D

Vascular Tissue Biomanufacturing (Vast Bio) aims to revolutionize medicine by leveraging recent advances in 3D printing, materials science, and cell biology to generate new, engineered tissues with intact blood vessels. These vascularized human tissues are functional human tissues that can be used for experimentation, testing and implantation. 

Evan Ehrenberg, Sol Chen
Somerville, MA 

Xperii ( is a software platform that reduces the inefficiency in recruitment and management for clinical trials, academic research, and focus groups by automating and streamlining the process of participating in a research study. The platform allows any individual to store personal information securely on the platform and use the web or mobile app to filter and be notified of new studies tailored to their needs and apply to studies online.

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 these startups 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 Pepper Hamilton and the MassCONNECT mentors to help accelerate the commercial trajectory of BrainSpec, Chestnut Pharmaceuticals, Vast Bio and Xperii, and build the next generation of life sciences 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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