Each week, we feature Grand Central Tech company founders on our blog to highlight their latest progress. With over 100 companies from cyber security to DIY beauty and everything in between, the GCT community and founders represent some of the world’s leading innovators.
Please introduce yourself and your company.
I am a biologist with over 10 years of research experience. For my undergraduate studies, I was awarded an endowment of $2 million dollars from the Goizueta Foundation and an NIH fellowship with the Minority Access to Research Careers program. I got my Ph.D. from Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an Arnold and Mabel Beckman graduate student and a William Randolph Hearst foundation scholar. After graduating, I worked in technology and life-sciences investing at Canrock Ventures and Golden Seeds.
Envisagenics is a bioinformatics company spun out of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Our mission is to boost the creation of new therapies for human diseases by reducing the complexity of biomedical big data into plausible solutions. We focus on the discovery of RNA therapeutics. We believe RNA therapeutics hold enormous potential as over 30 million people in the US suffer from genetic diseases or cancer that could be caused by mutations affecting RNA splicing. Additionally, 370 human diseases are known to be caused by splicing errors and more remain to be discovered. Our technology, SpliceCoreTM, is a cloud-based platform that is experimentally validated to predict drug targets and biomarkers through splicing discovery from RNA-seq data. We plan to use this software to identify new splicing errors causative of the disease, identify the right drug-targets and develop RNA therapeutics through partnerships and collaborations with Biopharma. We want to use our technology to accelerate the discovery of new drugs like Spinraza, the first FDA approved RNA therapeutic for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Discovery of Spinraza by Dr. Adrian Krainer and his lab at CSHL, from which Envisagenics spun out, took over a decade of research and development. Our in-silico RNA therapeutics discovery platform replaces expensive drug-target selection and lead design with efficient computer simulations to decrease time, cost, and failure risk of drug development programs.
How are you disrupting your industry?
Our SpliceCore technology is the first of its kind that encapsulates quantification, interpretation and discovery in a single therapeutic product, is specially designed for splicing analysis using machine learning algorithms, and is oriented to human disease studies.
Our software helps researchers translate basic science discoveries into lower risk drug-targets. SpliceCore aims to transform R&D by reducing the time, cost, and failure risk of drug development programs in the biopharmaceutical industry that currently takes an average of $2.6 billion and a decade according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. To date, Envisagenics has completed pilot projects with paying strategic biopharma clients in the field of RNA therapeutics and drug development.
In addition, we published three proof-of-concept validations that demonstrate the software platform’s capability to deliver the clients’ desired value. Envisagenics is a member of Grand Central Tech (Class 2017) and has previously received investments from Accelerate Long Island and the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund as well as a Phase I SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health to support development of breakthrough technology in Biomedical Computing, Informatics, and Big Data Science.
Most recently, Envisagenics was selected as a Breakout Labs portfolio company of the Peter Thiel Foundation.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge has been to find the right investors and team members for Envisagenics. To entrepreneurs out there, be resilient and trust your gut feelings to continue scaling the company and accomplish the vision
What’s your most and least favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is to work with our incredible team to try to find new cures for patients and their families using novel technologies that can accelerate this process. My least favorite part is the additional time that it takes to get projects or milestones finalized.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a new business?
The one piece of advice I can give is to have fun with the rollercoaster of starting a new business, and find a complementary cofounder that can help you scale the company in aspects you’re not as strong in.
What’s the most beneficial part of being within the Grand Central Tech ecosystem?
The most beneficial part of being in the Grand Central Tech (GCT), apart from the outstanding people that run it, is the GCT ecosystem. The network that GCT has made accessible has been incredible, from large corporate partners to investors and seasoned entrepreneurs.
What’s next for you and your company?
We will continue to grow Envisagenics partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. At the same time, we are working on closing our next round of funding, expanding the Envisagenics team, and as always, continuing to build on and improve on our technology.
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