Last Thursday in New York, three biotech companies with Stanford School of Medicine ties, were featured during the first annual TIME 100 Health Summit that brought together national leaders from across medicine, business, and government to discuss the current state of healthcare. The companies’ research spans creating a diagnostic tool to help determine concussion injury, building a human genetic variation database to help predict individual response to medications, and engineering molecules to block aging processes that underlie multiple diseases.
At the summit, luminaries such as former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and current NIH and cabinet officials joined academics, media, and business executives to discuss advancing precision medicine by integrating research and clinical care, driving down healthcare costs, focusing on women’s health and childbirth mortality, and creating an ecosystem of public and private collaboration and consortiums to share data and advance science.
During the summit’s “Inventing the Future” segment, three companies, selected by TIME from among many candidates, were cited for “driving innovation and precision medicine,” and it was noted that “the Stanford School of Medicine is working with young entrepreneurs to bring these technologies to healthcare.” The companies are:
Oculogica, a StartX company, created the EyeBOX device that the FDA has authorized as an aid to help diagnose concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. EyeBOX uses specialized software and a four-minute test to track micro eye movements and their relation to cranial nerve function that is unique to each individual. It applies a proprietary algorithm to the data collected that enables physicians to objectively diagnose – or rule out – concussions and other injuries. Hannah Rosenfeld, who conducted research as a biochemistry intern at Stanford in 2011, is now the clinical operations manager. StartX is a non-profit, business incubator associated with Stanford.
Coral Genomics, is developing a genetic database that will help predict individual response to medications. The company determines how cells within a patient will respond to a drug based on their individual genetic profile, it measures variability across patients to find ways to reduce variation, and then it recommends treatment strategies based on those findings. Former Stanford postdoctoral fellow Kasey Davis, PhD, Psychiatry 2016, is currently at Coral. Dorian Therapeutics, a StartX and YC company, was founded by Maddalena Adorno, PhD, and Benedetta di Robilant, PhD, former postdoctoral fellows at Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine. Dorian is examining how to block the aging process that is shown to be the underlying cause for multiple diseases. Using knowledge gleaned from senescence, immunology, and stem cell biology, the company is developing small molecules called senoblocks to enhance cellular life span and modulate stem cell pathways to treat age-related diseases. Two current postdoctoral fellows are doing consulting work for the firm: Johanna Theruvath, MD, PhD, Stanford Cancer Institute, and Samuele Marro, PhD, Institute for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine. Amit Joshi, PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Chemical & Systems Biology, will be joining the research and development team in November.
The Stanford School of Medicine actively engages with entrepreneurial firms through its professional and career development programs and start-up fairs. As such, Stephanie Eberle, Assistant Dean, BioSci Careers, was asked by TIME to help identify companies for the summit. “We work closely with small companies, having them come to campus to talk to our trainees, having trainees visit the firms, and creating internships,” Eberle said. Commenting about the summit, Eberle said, “National leaders are collaborating across many disciplines, “and our Stanford community and alumni are right in the middle of this collaboration, bringing precision medicine to today’s healthcare system.”
By Nadine Taylor-Barnes
October 25, 2019