HSCI news briefs

Second Annual Deans’ Challenge

“I think the single most important element of any new biotech remains the scientific validity of its work,” HSCI Executive Committee member George Daley, MD, PhD, told those attending the 2nd Annual Dean’s Health & Life Sciences Challenge opening kickoff at the Harvard Innovation Lab on October 28. Daley shared his experience crossing the line from academia to industry as the scientific co-founder of iPierian, Inc., a biopharmaceutical focused on neurological diseases. The university-wide Deans’ challenge invites teams of Harvard students and postdoctoral fellows to develop start-ups that improve health delivery and patient lives. HSCI-affiliated scientists won the inaugural competition with their plan for MatriTarg Laboratories, now developing therapeutics for fibrosis.

Cancer symposium highlights program’s success

HSCI Cancer Program co-leaders Benjamin Ebert, MD, and Ramesh Shivdasani, MD, marked four years of cumulative efforts to fund creative research with a half-day symposium on November 8. Seven HSCI-funded labs presented and received critique of their work, which included new insights into the link between circadian rhythm genes and leukemia, and the role of stem cells in stomach cancer. Keynote speaker Cédric Blanpain, MD, PhD, from the Université libre de Bruxelles, closed the symposium with a discussion of the mechanisms that differentiate skin cancer from normal cellular turnover.

Evotec & HSCI form new collaborations

German biotech Evotec AG entered into two strategic partnerships with HSCI researchers last fall. The first collaboration, “Cure Motor Neuron,” will identify compounds that prevent or slow down the loss of motor neurons, which is characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The compounds will be found using drug-screening techniques developed by HSCI Executive Committee member Lee Rubin, PhD, and Principal Faculty member Kevin Eggan, PhD. The second research collaboration, “Target Enteroendocrine Mechanisms,” with HSCI Co-director Douglas Melton, PhD, will look for biological pathways and signals that could be therapeutically relevant to diabetic patients.