Innovator of the Year Tackles Type 1 Diabetes

Edward Damiano holds the iLet bionic pancreas while accepting the Innovator of the Year award at the Boston University Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll event.


Two million people in the US live with potentially deadly type 1 diabetes, and Ed Damiano wants to make them healthier, safer, and “dramatically unburdened from managing their diabetes.”

Among those people is his son.

Damiano was honored on July 12 as Boston University’s 2016 Innovator of the Year for his efforts developing an artificial, or bionic, pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels by automatically delivering precisely calibrated doses of insulin or glucagon every five minutes.

“People will be healthier on this device from the very first day they put it on,” says Damiano, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering.

The Innovator of the Year award, presented by the Office of Technology Development, recognizes a BU faculty member whose cutting-edge research is being brought to market and benefits society at large.

The wearable device will be the subject of a small National Institutes of Health–funded human clinical trial, called a bridging study, at four US sites this winter, in preparation for the Phase III or pivotal trial, which will generate data for FDA evaluation of the device. That trial will begin enrollment in the first half of 2017 and involve more than 600 patients at 16 clinical centers around the country.

Damiano’s special reason for undertaking the project, his son David, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 11 months old. That’s terrifying news for any parent, and Damiano took it as a challenge. While he will just miss his long-term goal—getting the bionic pancreas to market before his now 17-year-old son goes off to college in fall 2017, he is pleased with his progress.

“Ed’s determination and his systematic and persistent work to achieve this goal has been incredibly impressive,” says Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research, who presented the award. “He has worked tirelessly, and his success in raising funds from a wide range of sources, carrying out the science, and developing the technology in a very short period of time has been nothing but remarkable.”

Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research presents Ed Damiano with the Innovator of the Year award

Damiano’s device is called the iLet, a reference to the pancreatic islets of Langerhans, the hormone-producing areas of tissue in a healthy pancreas. It looks like a thick iPhone, with two ports on the end for the tiny drug delivery tubes. A subcutaneous sensor provides the blood sugar data to the device via Bluetooth.

The device’s firmware contains algorithms that automatically adjust drug dosing every five minutes. That’s a great improvement over the current system, which requires the user to do frequent blood testing and calculations, then inject insulin or consume food to correct their levels. And because the device is bi-hormonal, delivering both insulin (to lower blood sugar) and glucagon (to raise it), the ups and downs of a user’s blood sugar levels can be kept in a much narrower and safer range.

The iLet will be studied with insulin only first, and then in the bi-hormonal mode. Assuming everything goes smoothly, the insulin-only device could come to market in 2018 and the bi-hormonal version in 2019.

While Damiano says he’s honored at being named Innovator of the Year, he’s not taking time out to celebrate.

“Being ebullient and enthusiastic about all the accomplishments that have come so far is great, but it’s a distraction,” Damiano says. “The enthusiasm I have for that reality is masked by the immense amount of work to do over the next 24 months.”

That work includes everything from a variety of subsidiary approvals to manufacturing hurdles to financial matters. As the device is approved, Damiano also has to persuade health care payers to approve it for patients. “I have great confidence that they will reimburse it, but it’s not a passive process,” he says. “I have to get in front of all these payers and show them how far superior this technology is to the standard of care. I think at that point the data will convey the message all by itself.”

The Innovator award also recognizes entrepreneurial efforts, in this case Damiano’s creation of a new medical technology company called Beta Bionics with several partners, including his longtime collaborator Firas El-Khatib, a BU senior research scientist. In 2014–15, before starting Beta Bionics, Damiano raised about $2.5 million in donations to his lab at BU from the diabetes community. At the end of 2015, Eli Lilly and Company invested $5 million in Beta Bionics, which is also building equity by crowdfunding, at $100 a share, via a Wefunder page, with about $900,000 raised from 650 investors.

“It’s unusual for someone to take something this far from the genesis of the concept. Usually we hand it off,” says Michael Pratt (Questrom’13), interim managing director of the Office of Technology Development, who volunteered as a healthy control subject in one of Damiano’s early studies and remains deeply impressed by his commitment.

“Ed was maniacal about caring for his son, setting his alarm to get up every hour through the night and check his blood glucose. I can’t imagine what that was like,” Pratt says. “Then he sat down with Firas in Bertucci’s in Kenmore Square, and they had this back and forth till they came up with the kernel of the algorithm mimicking how Ed cared for his son. That kernel persists to this day. He means business. He’s seeing this through.”

Beta Bionics is a public benefit corporation, a for-profit corporate model that allows for socially responsible decision making, such as choosing to decline a profitable buyout offer to keep the bionic pancreas on track for fast development and wide distribution.

“The company becomes a vehicle for the movement he’s creating here,” Pratt says, “but not in the traditional sense of going out there and trying make a million dollars. He’s trying to rally people together to treat this disease.”


BU Today Article by Joel Brown

Klogene Therapeutics, Inc. awarded a $1.49 Million grant for Alzheimers disease drug development


BOSTON, MA – 16 May, 2016 – Klogene Therapeutics, Inc. today announced that it has been awarded a $1.49 Million small business innovation research grant (SBIR) by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The funds from this award (number R44AG053084) will be used for the development of novel therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative diseases.


The intellectual property, which is the initial basis for Klogene’s drug development program, is being exclusively licensed from Boston University and is the result of years of collaboration between Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School affiliated Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration (LDDN) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

“This is a major milestone for our research. My laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine has studied the Klotho gene in the brain and suggested neuroprotective therapeutic strategies based on its up-regulation since 2003,” said Dr. Carmela Abraham, Professor of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine and co-founder of Klogene Therapeutics, Inc. “We are pleased that our pioneering work has been endorsed by a generous NIH grant and by additional researchers at other institutions, who are now also studying the role of Klotho in the brain and its potential as a central nervous system (CNS) therapeutic,” she added. “I dedicated the last 36 years of my career to Alzheimer’s disease research and I do not intend to stop until we have a treatment or a cure. I am more optimistic than ever that we will succeed,” said Dr. Abraham.

“The small molecule compounds we developed in this collaboration penetrate the blood brain barrier, have good drug-like properties and boost Klotho levels in the brain as much as two-fold, without toxic effects,” said Dr. Kevin Hodgetts, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, Director of the LDDN at BWH, and co-founder of Klogene Therapeutics, Inc. “We are excited to see them being further tested and developed into a drug by Klogene,” he added.

“We are excited to see such a promising novel Alzheimer’s therapy advance,” said Dr. Howard Fillit, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF). Dr. Fillit is a geriatrician, neuroscientist and leading expert in Alzheimer’s disease. “The ADDF has supported Dr. Carmela Abraham’s research from its early stages and continues to do so today as her work with Dr. Kevin Hodgetts progresses from academic research labs into a biotech startup.”

In addition to the AD-related published work, Dr. Abraham’s team reported that boosting expression of the Klotho gene in the brain has the potential to be beneficial in multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Klogene Therapeutics Inc. has assembled a world-class team of scientific advisors including Dr. Makoto Kuro-o who discovered and named the Klotho gene about twenty years ago and studied its role primarily in Chronic Kidney Disease, Dr. Manfred Windisch a world-renown expert in CNS drug development who planned and conducted 25 Phase I to Phase III clinical trials, Dr. George Trainor a recipient of American Chemical Society’s “Heroes of Chemistry Award” and a medicinal chemistry executive who advanced 35 drug candidates into clinical development during his career, and Dr. Aaron Ciechanover a 2004 laureate of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

About Klogene Therapeutics, Inc.

Klogene ( is a startup company developing novel neuroprotective therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. The company’s drug development strategy is based on small molecules that penetrate the blood brain barrier and enhance the expression of the Klotho gene. While Klotho boosting small molecules have potential in treatment of a number of CNS and other diseases, Klogene Therapeutics, Inc. is focusing initially on Alzheimer’s.

Full News Story:

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Company Name: Klogene Therapeutics, Inc.
Contact Person: Menachem Abraham
Phone: 781 718 5102
Country: United States

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Hope for the Battle against Type 1 Diabetes

Ed Damiano, the father of a 16-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes, has been racing for nearly 13 years to develop an artificial, or bionic, pancreas that could transform the lives of millions of people who have the same disease as his son, freeing them from the round-the-clock burden of managing a potentially life-threatening disorder themselves. The College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering’s device, which regulates blood sugar levels by automatically delivering precisely calibrated doses of insulin and glucagon, will start the final round of US Food and Drug Administration–approved human clinical trials in the first half of 2017.

Most academics would have long since turned their invention over to industry to push it through the cumbersome regulatory and commercialization maze. Instead, Damiano and BU senior research scientist Firas El-Khatib have started an unorthodox socially minded medical device company to bring their bionic pancreas through final clinical trials and regulatory approval and into the hands of the people with type 1 diabetes who have been eagerly awaiting this kind of breakthrough tool. Damiano says his team moves faster, more efficiently, and more aggressively than has been usual in the medical device industry.

Eli Lilly and Company, the pharmaceutical giant that in 1923 first commercialized the lifesaving insulin hormone for patients with diabetes, is betting on Damiano. Lilly invested $5 million in the new company, Beta Bionics, Inc., at the end of 2015 and Deirdre Ibsen, global brand development leader of Lilly Diabetes, one of Lilly’s five global business areas, holds a seat on the Beta Bionics board.

“I’m so impressed with Ed’s passion, but also with his pragmatism, his creativity in moving this forward,” says Enrique A. Conterno, president of Lilly Diabetes. “We thought for us it was a great investment.”

Damiano’s lab is one of a half dozen teams working on various kinds of artificial pancreases, or closed-loop, automated insulin delivery systems, which are expected to become commercially available over the next few years. While most other systems automate only the delivery of insulin, Damiano’s device, which has moved through nearly eight years of successful clinical trials, has a bihormonal pump that supplies both insulin and glucagon. “We are a huge believer that glucagon will be a very important part of the artificial pancreas,” says Conterno. “That’s how, physiologically, the human body works.” Describing Damiano’s device as “the most advanced,” he adds, “he had incredible data. It’s pretty clear that his algorithms and his systems are delivering better outcomes.”

Beta Bionics is a public benefit corporation. If you’ve heard of Patagonia and Kickstarter, you know something about this new kind of company. Unlike traditional companies, which are all about maximizing profits, these new corporations are for-profit entities that are also dedicated to social responsibility and a public benefit mission. The first public benefit corporation was launched in 2010, and Massachusetts is now among 30 states that allow this business model. In its corporate charter, Beta Bionics defines its broad public benefit as improving human health.

Mike Pratt, interim managing director of BU’s Technology Development office

“Our mission is to act always in the best possible interest of the type 1 diabetes community,” says Damiano, who is president of Beta Bionics and holds a seat on the board, but will remain at BU as a professor and researcher. “We have no desire to flip the company for a quick return on investment. In fact, I think that would be the surest way to undermine the mission of Beta Bionics. I believe that if Beta Bionics remains faithful to our convictions and to our core values, it will lead to the best possible products—products that will thrive in the marketplace and change the paradigm of type 1 diabetes management.”

Beta Bionics appears to be the first medical device company to enter the public benefit realm.

“Traditional corporations may make decisions based on a short-term horizon,” says Mike Pratt, interim managing director of BU’s Technology Development office, whose team helped Damiano navigate the mountain of licensing and intellectual property agreements required to start the company (BU holds a 5 percent equity stake in Beta Bionics and owns the patents). “Venture capitalists want to see returns on their investments fast. Ed recognizes that he has to generate some profit in order to be sustainable, but the public benefit corporation structure gives Beta Bionics some flexibility that other companies don’t have—to put the people who need the device first. Bottom line: Ed wants to put extra focus on a really safe, effective product.”

Damiano gives a hypothetical example of how the public benefit model could protect the bionic pancreas: A large medical device company makes a lucrative offer to acquire Beta Bionics. If Damiano and his board conclude that the company will shelve their potentially disruptive device in order to keep drawing revenue on their existing products, Beta Bionics can—and it will, Damiano says—legally turn down the offer because it’s not in the best interest of the type 1 diabetes community. A traditional corporation would be required to accept the offer.

Bonding over keeping their children healthy

Type 1 diabetes, which affects about two million people in the United States, is an autoimmune disease that destroys the pancreatic beta cells that normally produce insulin, which allows the body to convert carbohydrates to energy. If treated poorly over the years, the disease can damage organs such as the kidneys and eyes, as well as blood vessels and nerves. The bionic pancreas mimics the efficiency of the natural pancreas, which fine-tunes the body’s glucose level both by lowering it (with minute amounts of insulin) and by raising it (with tiny doses of glucagon).

In keeping with his public benefit mission, Damiano founded Beta Bionics with a group of parents of children with type 1 diabetes—Orange County, Calif., attorneys Edward B. and Serafina Raskin, whose 10-year-old son Max was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 7, and Jeff Hitchcock, whose 28-year-old daughter was diagnosed at 24 months and who founded the nonprofit Children with Diabetes, an online community that promotes understanding of the care and treatment of the disease. These corporate founders have bonded over the round-the-clock management required to keep their children healthy—monitoring blood sugar levels, calculating insulin doses, counting carbohydrate grams—and the constant worrying about long-term complications. They all know the fear of “dead-in-bed” syndrome, which can occur if blood sugar levels go too low while a person with type 1 diabetes is sleeping.

“My daughter is perfectly healthy, but to get there has been an extraordinary amount of work,” says Hitchcock, who is the Beta Bionics public benefit director and holds a seat on the board.

Hitchcock met Damiano at a diabetes technology conference in 2006. “I heard for the first time someone talking about a technological solution that I knew would work,” says Hitchcock. “He spoke with passion and with the conviction of a scientist—not that touchy-feely hope kind of thing, but with ‘I know how to do this and I’m not going to stop until I solve it.’”

“When we ask our families, how often do you think about type 1 diabetes, the answer for some is, about every five minutes,” Hitchcock says. As he explains, about 10 percent of people in the United States who have the disease—including David Damiano and Max Raskin—wear continuous glucose monitors, which are tiny sensors that give blood sugar readings every five minutes. David and Max also wear insulin pumps, which deliver relatively precise injections of insulin under the skin.

With its patented algorithms, Damiano’s bionic pancreas, which is called the iLet and is about the size of an iPhone 3, does all the calculating, adjusting, and dosing autonomously and automatically. The only information that users have to enter is their weight.

“All that constant worry goes away,” says Hitchcock. “The bionic pancreas never gets tired. It’s always there.

 iLet, in homage to the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. The device automatically delivers both insulin and glucagon, and manages type 1 diabetes for the user, instead of the other way around

With parents following his progress on the bionic pancreas for more than a decade now, Damiano has attained rock star status in the type 1 diabetes community. Two years ago, a few months after his son had been diagnosed, Ed Raskin connected online with Damiano. It was 2 a.m. in Orange County, 11 p.m. in Boston. Parents of children with type 1 diabetes don’t get much sleep; they stay up to monitor blood sugar levels.

“When I was in the hospital with Max when he was being diagnosed, that’s when I understood—you mean no one’s invented a way to tell me how much insulin to give my kid?” Raskin recalls. “A machine doesn’t do this? I have an amazing iPhone in my pocket and I have to do all this manually?”

The two fathers ended up talking by phone for a couple of hours that night. Damiano gave Raskin a crash course on the bionic pancreas. Raskin pledged that he and his wife, who are founding partners in a small law firm that handles a lot of health care–related work, would help in any way they could.

Now, in addition to his day job, Ed Raskin is vice president for public benefit development and corporate strategy at Beta Bionics and holds a seat on the board. Serafina Raskin is a vice president, secretary, and general counsel for Beta Bionics. The company’s chief operating officer, Gibb Clarke, is a social entrepreneur who has launched several small, successful medical device companies. Clarke is a longtime friend of the Raskins’ and they say he has watched them grapple with the nonstop management of their son’s disease and wanted to help. Steven J. Russell, a Harvard Medical School assistant professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Roy Beck, executive director of the nonprofitJaeb Center for Health Research, serve on Beta Bionics scientific advisory board.

After David Damiano was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 11 months, his father set himself a deadline: to get the bionic pancreas on David by the time he heads off to college. David is now a high school junior.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Damiano $1.5 million for the Bionic Pancreas Bridging Study, which will begin later this year and will be the first home-use trial to test the iLet in adults and children with type 1 diabetes. The final Bionic Pancreas Pivotal Trial is scheduled to begin in 2017.

“It’s a horrible disease,” says BU’s Pratt. “Ed is passionate about it. His mission, his vision, is what’s driving him. Why would you not want to help him?”

In 2008, Damiano needed healthy adult volunteers to participate as control subjects at MGH in the first human clinical trials of the bionic pancreas. Pratt volunteered. “I spent 27 hours in bed with IVs in both arms,” he says.

“As an administrator at a university, when you come across a person who’s passionate about something and it’s for a humanitarian purpose—in Ed’s case something that improves people’s health—that inspires you,” says Pratt. “Sometimes in my group’s meetings, I’ll play Ed’s TEDx talk. I say, ‘Let’s remember why we’re doing this.’ I like to think of the University as a problem solver, and Ed’s a perfect example of that.”

A version of this article originally appeared on BU Research.


From BU Today

By Sara Rimer


Beta Bionics Raises $5 Million

The race is on for what may be the biggest innovation in decades for Type 1 diabetes management—the bionic pancreas—and on Friday, one of the lead researchers in the field announced at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting that he’s launched a company to bring that invention to market.

Ed Damiano, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University who is developing a bionic pancreas (also referred to as the artificial pancreas), has spun his academic research into a company called Beta Bionics. Recently, Beta Bionics secured $5 million from the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, which manufactures the insulin used in the device. “My goal is to bring this technology in a responsible and expeditious manner to as many people with diabetes as possible,” says Damiano.

As TIME previously reported, Damiano was inspired to make the device when his son David was diagnosed with diabetes as an infant. He wants the device on the market by the time David, now 16, goes off to college.

People with diabetes are constantly tracking and adjusting their blood sugar with insulin or food. A bionic pancreas would automate that process. Damiano’s device, called the iLet, takes blood sugar readings every five minutes, and depending on blood-sugar levels, releases insulin to bring the sugar down or another hormone called glucagon to bring it back up, keeping blood sugar steady throughout the day.

Damiano incorporated Beta Bionics as a benefit corporation. A benefit corporation allows companies to have a protected public-benefit mission. “It’s a for-profit organization but you are allowed to make management decisions that are in the interest of your mission that may or may not maximize return of equity to shareholders,” explains Damiano.

See link for video:

Beta Bionics is not without competition. Other research groups are developing similar technology. The medical device company Medtronic is in the game, and researchers at the University of Virginia and Harvard University announced in January that they will soon test their artificial pancreas in 240 people. One of the differences between Beta Bionic’s device and others is that instead of offering automated insulin delivery only, Beta Bionic’s also releases glucagon, which allows people to bring up their blood sugar without eating a snack. Damiano says they will likely have an insulin only version of the iLet approved in 2018 with the full system approved soon after that. Beta Bionics plans to begin its final pivotal clinical trial of the device in the middle of 2017.

I’m still very hopeful about the bionic pancreas and we’re getting closer,” says Fred Cunha, whose daughter Elise, 8, was one of the youngest people to try the bionic pancreas in a trial.Even though my wife and I can see her blood sugar on our Apple watches these days, it’s still a twenty-four-seven deal.”


Time Article

Aexandra Sifferlen


BU Wins $13Million in Patent Infringement Suit

A US District Court jury has awarded Boston University more than $13 million after finding that three companies infringed on a BU patent for blue LEDs (light emitting diodes), used in countless cell phones, tablets, laptops, and lighting products.

After a highly technical three-week trial in November, the 10-person jury unanimously found that the companies had willfully infringed on BU’s patent for the invention by 2013 Innovator of the Year Theodore Moustakas, College of Engineering Distinguished Professor of Photonics and Optoelectronics Emeritus. Because the jury found the infringement to be willful, the $13,665,000 award could be doubled or tripled by Judge Patti B. Saris. No date has yet been announced for further proceedings.

Despite the amount of damages awarded, “the best part of this is that it validates Professor Moustakas’ work,” says Michael Pratt (Questrom’12), interim managing director of BU’s Technology Development office. “The story is really not about the money. The first thing we want is recognition of his seminal contribution to this field.”

Moustakas, who became a professor emeritus when he retired in June but continues to conduct research at the Photonics Center, testified extensively at the trial and was present in court every day. When the judge read the jury’s verdict, “I put my head down,” he says. “I cried.” He describes the jury’s decision as “amazing…everything we asked,” saying also that his lifetime’s work was being challenged.

“Fundamental to our mission as a global research institution is nurturing an environment of discovery that supports our faculty and the incredibly important work they do,” says Jean Morrison, provost and chief academic officer. “We are delighted with the verdict in this case. Boston University has successfully fought, and will continue to fight, for our faculty members and the intellectual property they create here.”

The three primary defendants, all Taiwan-based, were Epistar Corporation, Everlight Electronics Co., Ltd., and Lite-On Technology Corporation, along with various subsidiaries, most located in the United States. Each is involved in manufacturing or packaging LEDs for use in consumer electronics. A number of big-name electronics manufacturers were initially part of the University’s case, but they avoided litigation by joining a settlement that includes licensing and confidentiality agreements.

The University was represented by Michael Shore, a partner at Shore Chan DePumpo LLP, in Dallas, specialists in intellectual property cases, and Erik Belt, a partner specializing in patent disputes at the Boston law firm McCarter and English LLC, which has represented BU before. While it is possible for the defendants to appeal the verdict, Belt says it would be difficult to overturn the jury’s clear finding of fact.

The University will receive less than half of the final award, after the attorneys, who took the case on a contingency basis, and previous patent licensees are paid. Moustakas will receive 30 percent of the University’s share.

Moustakas joined BU in 1987 and was named the University’s inaugural Distinguished Professor of Photonics and Optoelectronics in 2014. A search is under way for his successor, and the Distinguished Professorship will be renamed the Theodore Moustakas Professorship of Photonics and Optoelectronics.

Moustakas’ invention dates to June 22, 1990, when researchers in his lab were trying to produce microscopically thin layers of gallium nitride to be used in the LEDs, growing crystals of the substance at high temperatures. They discovered that a heater used in the experiment had malfunctioned and the material had cooled to 270 degrees Celsius, far below the intended 600 degrees. But instead of aborting the experiment, Moustakas told them to fix the heater and continue. The snafu led to the growth of a smoother, more translucent gallium nitride layer that also grew much faster when crystallized at the higher temperature, a result replicated—deliberately—the very next day.

The main patent for the LED was issued in 1997, based on an application first submitted in 1991. Since then, blue LEDs have become a key component in many products, because they can generate white light when coated with phosphor.

“The real story is the robustness of Moustakas’ technology,” says Pratt. “It really did become a personal story. There was an attack, an affront to his creation. They had two experts saying it didn’t exist…and the jury wasn’t buying that at all.”

“To infringe in patent law, you don’t have to know about the patent and you don’t have to have an intent,” says Belt. To prove willfulness, “you basically have to show the other side knew of the patent and they were perhaps recklessly disregarding the fact that they were infringing or willfully blind to it. There’s a lot of ways to say it, but you basically have to show that there was willful disregard for BU’s patent rights.

“I think this really validates Professor Moustakas’ scientific breakthrough and establishes him as one of the great scientists in his field,” Belt says.

BU Today covered this story.  See the article at:

Joel Brown can be reached at

Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll Turns Six: TDRR 2015

From its inauguration in 2010, the Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll (TDRR) annual networking event has attracted a variable audience comprised of entrepreneurs, academic scientists, investors, industrialists, and students. Over the past five years Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll has grown and expanded considerably; it has adapted to technological changes and introduced new concepts to deliver a professional and interactive networking experience year after year.

Hosted by Boston University’s Office of Technology Development, the 6th annual TDRR was a massive success that saw over 700 people in attendance.

The Innovator of the Year Award winner was Dr. David J Salant, MD, Professor at the School of Medicine and Chief of Nephrology at the Boston Medical Center, for his work in identifying the PLA2R antigen implicated in an autoimmune form of kidney disease called membranous nephropathy. The award was presented by Boston University's Vice President and Associate Provost for Research Gloria Waters. 


The enthusiasm was palpable as BU’s key translational and research centers displayed and shared their work with the attendees. The entrepreneurial teams from BU’s summer accelerator program utilized the opportunity to attract potential developers and funders for their start-up ventures. The participants were:

TDRR_2015_0535For the first time since the conception of TDRR, an initiative called “Funder Alley” was implemented to drive direct interaction between investors and attendees. A huge hit with the professional audience, Funder Alley showcased companies like Pfizer CTI, Sanofi, Boston Biomedical Innovation Center (B-BIC), Mass Medical Angels, Allied Minds, Rockport Capital, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and VentureWell. The attending representatives from these companies were kept busy by curious and interested parties.

This year we had the mobile app development contest, MAPP, where teams affiliated with Boston University presented ideas for problem-solving mobile applications in a 60 second video. We received 14 submissions and over 2,000 votes, and the ideas encompassed topics such as food, nutrition, medicine, online dating, data security, sexual assault prevention, and education. The winners were:

1st Place $1,500: Study Buddy – 499 Votes

2nd Place $1,000: Scribeat – 437 Votes

3rd Place $500: Campus Food – 315 Votes

TDRR_2015_0826The rock n’ roll aspect of the evening was provided by the rising folk-rock band, Kingsley Flood. Their music and vocals combined to deliver a vibrant and energetic performance that made for a lively atmosphere. The band has won three Boston Music Awards, including Album of the Year for Battles.

As always, the event would not be possible without our esteemed sponsors: Nixon Peabody, Sanofi, Pfizer, Shore Chan DePumpo LLP, and Roche Innovation Center. We would like to express our gratitude to their generosity.

We would also like to thank the following Student Volunteers who stepped up to aid us in executing the event:

Also, a big thank you to Melissa Manolis (Program Manager, RWJF Health Policy Research Programs) for volunteering to help us with the event.

A special thanks to the Office of Technology Development staff for implementing and organizing another successful Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll.

Lastly, thank you to all those who came out to attend TDRR, and helped us deliver our mission statement of maximizing collisions and mimizing friction.

We hope to see you again at TDRR 2016!


- Ayusha Mittal (TDRR 2015 Event Coordinator)

Message from the Managing Director

Robust technology clusters are not new: Route 128 in Massachusetts and Silicon Valley in California are the original clusters. Recently there has been a huge worldwide interest in regional economic growth organized around technology clusters. The key components of these clusters these days are what are known as “Eds and Meds”. Universities and medical centers are increasingly the core of these new technology clusters. Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco/Bay Area and New York City are example of leading Eds and Meds clusters but there are has been rapid growth of such clusters in other cities such as Philadelphia, San Diego, Houston. In the Boston area it has been a combination of industry, universities, academic medical centers, state and city governments, venture capital and non-profit organizations that have allied to produce the latest version of the “Massachusetts Miracle”. Besides the world beating universities and academic medical centers here, of note are several organizations that have had major impact:

Vinit Nijhawan Managing Director

Vinit Nijhawan
Managing Director

State Government: Mass Ventures ( established 37 years ago helped spawn the private venture capital industry and continues to invest in promising entrepreneurs that are overlooked by private capital. Mass Life Sciences Center ( has been instrumental in boosting the biotech industry by attracting established companies, backing startups and educating talent. Mass Clean Energy Center ( has kindled a renewable energy revolution and supported promising technology startups.

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Etiometry brings Predictive, Patient-specific analytics to bear in the ICU

“Can I actually give you meaningful information on a moment-to-moment basis about patients that is personalized and based on their individual medical history? This is the holy grail of analytics,” says Evan Butler, Co-founder and President of Etiometry. “Personalized Medicine is focused on genetics, but we’re focused on Personalized Medicine itself.”

Etiometry, Inc. is focused on delivering real-time, patient-specific predictive analytics to doctors managing critically ill patients. “Our software combines purely mathematical algorithms with an understanding of human physiology,” says Butler, “but it does not make decisions for the clinicians. It is up to the doctors to decide on specific treatment. Our software helps point them in the right direction.”

The heart of Etiometry’s solution is the T3 software platform.   Etiometry - T3 Screen Shot (2)T3 takes patient-specific data from labs tests, hospital monitors and life-support devices and runs the data through proprietary algorithms. T3 highlights important patient data and red flags dangerous trends. It is an early warning sign that enhances the clinical decision-making process.   Finally, T3 enables doctors to implement complicated treatment protocols in a critically ill patient population. T3 received FDA 510(k) approval in early 2015 and has been implemented in over a dozen ICUs in the US, Canada, and Europe.

Read More »

Boston University’s Office of Technology Development Hosts Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll 2015

2015 Innovator of the Year Award will be announced by Vice President and Associate Provost for Research Gloria Waters

Boston, MA – The Office of Technology Development at Boston University will host its 6th annual Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll (TDRR) networking conference on July 14, 2015 from 4 - 8 pm at the Metcalf Hall, George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA.

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TDRR is a networking event designed to connect scientists and engineers with entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators. The event will showcase emerging technologies from Boston University’s research programs in the fields of life sciences, physical sciences, medical technology, and student-based ventures.

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Announcing Ignition Award Winners for 2015

The Office of Technology Development completed its 6th annual Ignition Award cycle and we are pleased to announce this year’s winners.  The Ignition Program awards $50K, one-year grants to faculty of Boston University and Boston Medical Center to validate early-stage technologies and enable follow-on funding. The Ignition Award Program was initiated to help bridge the gap between government funded, basic research and product development activities undertaken by commercial or non-profit entities. Awards are made in the domains of Life Sciences, Medtech, and Physical Sciences. Proposals must demonstrate potential for commercial, medical, and/or societal impact.  An external committee (made up of business executives, investors, and others) with domain expertise in each area was recruited to judge proposals and recommend awards.

OTD received a higher number of applications this year and made a total of 11 awards: 5 in Life Sciences, 3 in Medtech, and 3 in Physical Sciences. The next Ignition cycle will begin with Pre-proposal applications due in the Fall (October, 2015). Stronger Pre-proposals will be invited to submit Full-Proposals. Applicants present their Full-Proposals to the Ignition Committee and award decisions are announced (March, 2016). More details on BU’s Ignition Program can be found here. Following is a brief description of the 2015 Ignition awardees.

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