TechSandBox: MetroWest Innovation Hub 

Our Mission:   Connect Innovation-driven enterprises and their entrepreneurs to needed resources, accelerating success by bringing the ecosystem together, right here in MetroWest.

Life Sciences SIG
3rd Monday of the Month
, unless there's a holiday, which happens a lot this year! We start food, networking and registration at 5:30p with program proceedings 6- 6:15p.  $25 up until a week before the program/ $30 until 2pm day of program/ $35 at door; Includes food. Members of this SIG are admitted free. Our life sciences special interest group includes medical devices, cell biology, pharmaceutical development and medical records.

SIG SPONSORS:         Colliers supporters of TechSandBox Life Sciences SIG    

9/19, 5:30pm, The 300 Year War on Cancer: Is Science Finally Winning

(Immunotherapy in the battle with cancer)

With over 450 genetically characterized human cancers, we have found cures for almost none.  Why is this field so complex and what is the current state of the art in this important field? Which approaches, t-cells, antigens, B cells, MCH, and monoclonal antibodies, show the most promise? How does genetics both complicate the situation and offer opportunities for treatments in personalized medicine. With different types of cancers behaving and reacting differently, what does this mean to the science of curing it?

Over the last 40 years an extraordinary amount of effort has been put into identifying defective genes, proteins, and RNAs that appear to drive cancer. However over 98% of the genes, proteins, and RNAs in most cancer cells are not defective. This begs the question: are we missing the larger picture when it comes to curing cancer? Should we be using a systems biology approach, i.e. holisim vs reductionism, to develop cancer therapies? Finding molecular changes in a cell is easy, and a number of methodologies have been developed for this; finding similarities within a cell is much more difficult and possibly the key to numerous hard-to-treat cancers.

Nemucore have adopted a holistic approach that harnesses knowledge around what cellular pathways lead to sensitivity and resistance to a particular drug in silica that is corroborated by preclinical and clinical studies. This has led to a fundamental change in how we look at targeted combination therapies, which are often less toxic and more specific than commonly used cytotoxic chemotherapeutics.

Advantagene’s GMCI is a pre-produced immunotherapy that will generate a precise and robust patient specific immune response, attacking a patient’s solid tumors, distant metastases, or minimum residual disease.  GMCI does not preselect or target a single tumor associated antigen (TAA) like most other targeted therapies, but enables the immune system itself to choose the best several TAA targets expressed by a patient’s particular tumor. By creating an immunogenic tumor microenvironment, GMCI will generate an attack against many of the patient’s dominant TAAs.   The same product can be used in virtually all solid tumor indications and for all solid tumor patients.  

The cytotoxic biochemical reaction at the site of administration leads to the death of multiplying tumor cells, cells repairing themselves from radiation or chemotherapy damage, and endothelial cells from growing tumor vessels.  A subsequent cascade of immuno-stimulatory events, including the production and recruitment of disease fighting cytokines and cancer killing T-Cells, amplified by TK’s “super-antigen” characteristics, stimulates the in situ development of a precise, patient-specific anti-tumor immune effect to combat cancer cells.  As a result, massive amounts of newly created T-cells, primary weapons used by the body to fight cancer, now recognize cells expressing a patient’s unique TAAs. These T-cells will identify, attack and destroy cancer cells expressing these antigens both at the site of the tumor and anywhere else in the body.  Some of these new T-cells, called memory T-cells, can remain for years, patrolling the body for remaining cancer cells and providing a durable “vaccine like” effect, resulting in the eradication of tumors in some cases or slowing their growth or spread in others.

Dr. Zetter's laboratory's current focus is on tumor metastasis and on identifying diagnostic and prognostic markers that can guide treatment decisions, including a new prognostic marker for prostate cancer. Specifically, the investigators are looking at:

The mechanisms used by cancer cells to spread or metastasize to distant sites.
The genetic, molecular and cellular changes that occur as tumors undergo progression from benign to aggressive.
The development of new markers for the diagnosis and prognosis of human cancers.
The development of novel therapeutic treatments for metastatic human cancers.
The Zetter lab is currently using nanoparticle technology to deliver RNA to tumors in the host to shut off essential determinants of cell growth and to turn on the production of tumor antigens that can be recognized by the immune system.

So, is science finally winning? Let’s all decide at tonight’s program.

Moderated by Howard Lin, PhD, with:

  • Tim Coleman, MBA, PhD, CEO of Nemucore
  • Estuardo Aguilar-Cordova, MD, PhD, CEO of Advantagene
  • Bruce Zetter, PhD, Professor of Cancer Biology, Harvard Medical School and Lab Director, Boston Children’s Hospital

To register:

Tim Coleman, Nemucore     Estuardo Aguilar Advantagene     Bruce Zetter, Professor, Harvard Medical School


Dr. Aguilar-Cordova is the co-founder of Advantagene, Inc. and has been the company’s chairman and CEO since 2002. He has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of biotherapeutics, cancer research and drug development, including serving as principal or co-investigator in more than 25 clinical trials ranging from Phase I to Phase III. 

Prior to moving into his role at Advantagene, Dr. Aguilar-Cordova held academic positions for nearly two decades. Most recently, he was deputy director of the Harvard Gene Therapy Initiative at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, and was a faculty member in Pediatrics, Hematology-Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. He has served on many national oversight committees, including roles as chairman and member of the NIH Recombinant Advisory Committee (RAC), as a consultant to the FDA Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee (BRMAC), and as a member of the Vaccine and Related Products Advisory Committee (VRPAC). He has also held other appointments including president of the Latin American Gene Therapy Society.

Dr. Aguilar-Cordova has published more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters, is on the editorial board of various professional journals and is an inventor on several patent applications.

A native of Guatemala, he did his undergraduate studies in Biology at California State University, Bakersfield; Medicine, at Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala City; and Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics at the University of California at Davis.

Dr. Tim Coleman has lead Nemucore Medical Innovations (NMI) since its inception in 2008. NMI is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development and commercialization of targeted nanomedicines for the treatment of patients afflicted with multidrug resistant cancers. During his tenure, NMI has grown to eleven employees and now occupies a 21,000 square foot research facility in Worcester, MA. 

Tim is principal investigator on NMI’s five funded grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation.  With this funding, NMI’s two lead products were developed and are being prepared for Phase I clinical trials. In a shareholder value creation event in May of 2012, Tim oversaw the spinoff of Blue Ocean Biomanufacturing Inc. to NMI’s shareholders so NMI could focus on targeted therapeutic development and Blue Ocean could advance key opportunities in the translational biomanufacturing space.

Before co-founding NMI, Tim was the leader of the Biomedical Strategy Group in Pricewaterhouse Coopers Health Industries Practice. Prior to joining Pricewaterwaterhouse Coopers, Tim was president, CEO and co-founder of BioCache Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Richmond, Virginia-based biopharmaceutical company primarily engaged in the research and development of cancer vaccines. There he was a National Cancer Institute funded principal investigator studying the interaction of cancer vaccines with Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs) to induce a clinically relevant immune response. Additionally, he successfully led the firm’s growth through early stage funding, and strategic expansion.

Tim has served as a technical adviser to venture capital firms, assessing the feasibility of life science technologies in biotechnology business plans. He is an elected member of the Massey Cancer Center, an internationally recognized center of excellence for cancer research and education.

A frequent guest lecturer and panelist, Tim has spoken on numerous academic and industry association conferences, including at Massachusetts Legislative Life Science Caucus, MassBio, MIT, BU, WPI, Virginia Biotechnology Association, Denver Entrepreneurship Council, and the Massachusetts Office for International Trade and Investment.  We add TechSandBox to his impressive list.

Tim earned his bachelor of science in biochemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a doctorate in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from the Medical College of Virginia and master’s in business administration with a focus in finance from Boston University. 

Dr. Zetter's laboratory's current focus is on tumor metastasis and on identifying diagnostic and prognostic markers that can guide treatment decisions, including a new prognostic marker for prostate cancer.

Dr. Zetter received a PhD from the University of Rhode Island. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at MIT and at the Salk Institute in San Diego. He has received numerous national and international awards for his work in the field of cancer research, including a Faculty Research Award from the American Cancer Society and the MERIT award from the US National Cancer Institute.

10/17/2016, 5:30PM: Now you see it; Now you see it better: Advances in
Imaging for Medical Applications

Imaging and vision systems are being used for discovery of cells, to new material development, to diagnostic procedures, therapies and surgery.

Tonight we cover them all and include advances in miniaturization, wavelengths of light, and robot guidance. See what can be detected, new applications and diagnostics that are enabled.

Eman Namati has been involved in image processing and optics across the light spectrum —xray, laser, fiber optic, infrared —and has seen the advances, the challenges, and the opportunities that still exist for creating products that enhance medicine.

Eman will provide an overview of the types of imaging, the biological/imaging structures each enables, and where the industry is now. This will be follow by each of the panelists explaining their company, and work.

Moderated by Lew Harrold, Innovative Medical Consultants, with:

  • Eman Namati, VP R&D, NinePoint Medical, Keynotes
  • Yuxiang (Shawn) Liu, Assistant Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Lionel Bouchet, VP Product Marketing, Mevion
  • Liz Asai, CEO and founder of 3Derm Systems

Professor Liu, WPI Lionel Bouchet, PhD, Mevion Lew HarroldLew Harrold Liz Asai 3derm Eman Namati, PhD at TechSandBox 

To register:


Eman Namati, PhD,  is Vice President of Research and Development at NinePoint Medical in Bedford, MA. As a founding member of the company in 2010, he brought extensive scientific and technical expertise in the fields of medical imaging. Prior to joining NinePoint, Eman was a post-doctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School working with Profs. Gary Tearney and Brett Bouma on the development of Optical Coherence Tomography – the core technology that was licensed to NinePoint. He helped build and lead the product development team, translating this academic technology into a commercial medical device in less than 3 years.

Eman has authored and coauthored over 50 scientific publications, abstracts and book chapters in the fields of signal processing, computed tomography, multi-modal imaging and biomedical optics. In addition, he has numerous patents related to optical imaging technologies. Eman holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering through a dual program with Flinders University Australia and the University of Iowa as an APA(Australian Post-graduate award) and ISATNA(Iowa/South Australian Transnational Alliance) fellowship recipient. He received a double undergraduate degree in Engineering (BE) and Science (BSc) from Flinders University Australia.

Yuxiang (Shawn) Liu is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering who joined WPI in 2013. He received a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Maryland, College Park in 2011. Before joining WPI, Yuxiang Liu worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Purdue University in 2011. He worked at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a NIST-ARRA fellow from 2011 to 2013. His research interests include fiber based optical trapping, silicon nanomechanics and nanophotonics, optofluidics, fiber optical sensors, bioinspired soft robotics, and cell mechanics. His research has been published on journals including Nature Nanotechnology, Physical Review Letters, Optics Letters, and Biomedical Optics Express.

Lew Harrold is an accomplished Medical Device Realization Professional with over 40 years’ experience of product lifecycle management of Medical Devices for a world-wide market. His experience encompasses multidisciplinary development team leadership, project management, engineering, clinical evaluation, manufacturing and medical device regulatory submissions for markets in US, Latin America, China and Japan. Lew has well developed business acumen and has a proven track record of bringing well designed and reliable products to market in a timely manner.

Throughout his career, Lew has managed and executed successful product development programs in radiology imaging, disposable whole blood optical devices, invasive and non-invasive cardiac output, patient vital signs monitoring and home health care remote monitoring. Additionally, he has assisted companies in the realization of new medical technologies, including clinical testing and medical research.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, a certified PMP, and a member of PMI, IEEE and PDMA, Lew is an expert in medical product design, biomedical engineering team development, program management, Quality Function Deployment (QFD) and clinical studies. Lew has deployed his expertise to realize profitable medical products for companies ranging in size from startups to Fortune 500. These commercialized products included 8 patents, 30+ successful 510(k)s, and 16 new medical products.

Lionel Bouchet, PhD, is VP of Product Management and Marketing at Mevion Medical Systems in Littleton. Prior to joining the startup team at Mevion (formerly Still River Systems), Lionel held similar roles at Varian Medical Systems and ZMed.

Lionel specializes in image-guided medical systems and was an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Neurological Surgery at University of Florida.  Mevion Medical Systems is a leading provider of proton therapy systems for use in radiation treatment for cancer patients and uses imaging to locate the treatment site.

Dr. Bouchet has degrees in Physics - Nuclear Engineering from Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble, MS, Nuclear Engineering and Medicine from Texas A&M University, and PhD, Medical Physics from University of Florida.

Liz Asai is the CEO and co-founder of 3Derm Systems. While studying biomedical engineering at Yale, Liz and her co-founder invented a 3D skin-imaging device that allows a dermatologist to see a patient remotely and triage skin concerns. In 2013, the team was awarded a National Science Foundation SBIR Award, making Liz the youngest recipient of the award in history. 

Liz is actively involved with local and national health tech policy groups drafting testimony and legislation advocating for telemedicine reimbursement. She serves as a mentor in the startup community and writes guides to help new entrepreneurs through the grant writing process. Liz has been featured in’s 25 Under 25 and Boston MedTech’s 40 Under 40. She holds a Bachelor of Science (BS), Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering form Yale University.

Committee: Jerry Shapiro, Mark Hediger, Amy LaChapelle, Carmel Denis, Howard Lin

Co-Chairs, Jerry Shapiro and Barbara Finer
Contact our Chair with questions or if you want to volunteer in some capacity (Jerrold)

    Medical Devices, to Biotech, to Pharma and Cell Biology, to eMR, imaging, medical robotics, 510K, FDA   Jerrold Shapiro, PhD FemMedical  Carmel Denis, Medical Device project managemet  Amy LaChappelle, QBD  Mark Hediger, MEH  Howard Lin                 



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