2016/2017 Finalists


Cellecture is developing GMP-in-a-box technologies for cell therapy, with a leading product for cellular immuno-oncology therapy. Manufacturing of genetically engineered cells represents one of the main bottlenecks to widespread delivery of adoptive cellular immunotherapy, among other cell therapy applications, to patients. Current approaches adapt a variety of commercial product to cell manufacturing that were originally developed for other purposes. For example, magnetic beads used for ligand attachment to activate and propagate T cells ex vivo, represent the primary manufacturing platform for cellular immuno-oncology therapy. However, this process takes approximately three weeks and results in manufacturing failures in 10-20% of patients. Cellecture is developing a product that can significantly reduce both the manufacturing time and failure rate.
Team: Mike Milone MD PhD, Saba Ghassemi PhD



Removal of part of the knee meniscus arthroscopically is the most commonly performed procedure in orthopaedic surgery. Nationally, this procedure is performed more than 500,000 times per year.  The tools that currently perform this work limit the physician’s ability to efficiently remove torn tissue, and can cause damage to other areas of the joint. Excetra is developing a suite of instruments to improve meniscal treatment and repair, starting with a unique surgical instrument to permit more comprehensive and safer treatment of the meniscus.
Team: James L. Carey MD MPH, Bill Chamblin



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes 15 million Americans to suffer years of intolerable shortness of breath (SOB). Two million of these patients have severe COPD and are unable to walk up a flight of stairs without the feeling of suffocation, even on maximal medical therapy (inhalers & oxygen). RightAir makes the AIR-AD device, which is designed to help these patients breathe easy again.
Team: Jake Brenner MD, PhD; Marek Swoboda, PhD; Michal Swoboda; Perry Dubin, MD