Jul 13, 2023

Congrats to the winners of the Spring 2023 Biotech Pitch Competition!

We’re thrilled to announce the winners, Nephrogen and Cloverleaf Bio

Daniella Cohen

$200K Grand Prize Winner: Nephrogen

About the company: Nephrogen is a biotech company in NYC developing curative gene therapies for kidney diseases. Their initial focus is on polycystic kidney disease (PKD), an incurable and often deadly genetic disease affecting 600,000 Americans.

About the founder: Demetri Maxim is the Founder and CEO of Nephrogen and has been actively immersed in kidney disease research since he was 14 years old. He completed his undergraduate and graduate research at Stanford University in the Division of Nephrology under the mentorship of Vivek Bhalla, Avnesh Thakor, and Mark Kay. Demetri also formerly worked in Dr. George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School and with Dr. Terry Watnick at the National NIH Center for Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Research. Demetri’s family has a history of PKD, and he founded Nephrogen based on his graduate research to realize his vision of curing all genetic kidney diseases by 2030.

$50K Second Place Winner: Cloverleaf Bio

About the company: Cloverleaf Bio is developing a new class of engineered tRNA therapeutics. Their research has uncovered that cancer cells are addicted to elevated levels of tRNA-modifying enzymes that support the cells’ rapid growth. To inhibit these enzymes and halt cancer progression, Cloverleaf designed and engineered “trojan horse tRNAs" capable of inhibiting over 20 enzymes with a single therapeutic. This breakthrough results in a rapidly programmable, highly potent, and remarkably specific class of tRNA-based therapeutics with the potential to revolutionize oncology treatment.

About the team: Cloverleaf Bio is the product of a long collaboration between Austin Draycott, PhD, Cole Lewis, and Wendy Gilbert, PhD. Wendy is a professor at Yale University, and is a leading expert in tRNAs and RNA-based mechanisms of disease. Austin and Cole performed their doctoral research in Wendy’s lab in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. Austin and Cole met on their first day of graduate school, and have worked together at the bench for the past six years. Together, they discovered a previously unknown mechanism linking tRNA modifying enzymes and cancer progression.

Thank you to the outstanding finalists 👇

FullFlock, PolyoseBio, Caravel Bio, Cora Care, Parallx Therapeutics,  Bairitone Health Inc

And semi-finalists 👇

Cambridge Bioelectronic Systems, Hapabi Therapeutics, PentaBind, BioSens8, Dart Biosciences, Taurus Vascular, Opalia, Bullseye Bioscienses, Gauntlet Bio, InnovoTEX Inc., NeuraStasis, Untap Ltd, Celfrex Platforms, EpiPaws, HDAX, GambitBio, Mission-Driven Tech, Inc., Nanograb, Cascade Biocatalysts, NeuroAge Therapeutics, Hylomatter Labs, Opera Bioscience, CoBiota, Pannex Theraputics

And finally, thank you to our expert judges: Loren A. Busby (Weill Cornell Medicine BioVenture eLab) Dr. Austin Che (Gingko Bioworks), Dr. Junjun Gao (Bayer Pharmaceutical), Sofia Guerra (Bessemer Venture Partners), Dylan Reid (Zetta Venture Partners), and Dr. Stacy Springs (MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation).

Stay tuned for our next competition in the Fall.

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