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MIT-Northpond Program created to advance innovation in engineering and life sciences

The five-year collaboration aims to accelerate the translation of breakthrough engineering and biology for human health.
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Photo of seven people posing on the grass in front of MIT’s Great Dome.
Members of the MIT-Northpond leadership team, including Dean Anantha Chandrakasan (center), celebrate the launch of the program, which aims to advance innovation in engineering and life science.
Photo: Gretchen Ertl

MIT School of Engineering and Northpond Ventures today announced the launch of the MIT-Northpond Program — Advancing Life Science and Engineering Innovation. The five-year engagement is funded through Northpond Labs, the research and development-focused affiliate of Northpond Ventures. The program aims to generate ideas in the life sciences by connecting Northpond’s experienced venture capital investors with MIT’s scientific entrepreneurs, advancing commercialization through close mentorship and collaboration.

Centered within the Department of Biological Engineering, the program will identify MIT researchers engaging in proof-of-concept research projects in the areas of diagnostics, R&D solutions, platforms for therapeutic solutions, biomanufacturing, and artificial intelligence and software for treatment selection, all with the goal of commercializing their ideas.  

“This unique program was established with the intent to couple incredible advancements in engineering and biology with innovative entrepreneurial and business opportunities. There is tremendous potential for the MIT-Northpond Program to impact human health by accelerating and commercializing visionary breakthroughs in engineering and life science,” says Anantha P. Chandrakasan, dean of the MIT School of Engineering and Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The MIT-Northpond Program will support postdocs working at the intersection of engineering and life science, in addition to providing mentorship for faculty and students. The program will also provide funding to the School of Engineering for its work in the life sciences. 

“We are honored to be a part of this incredible collaboration and to have the opportunity to provide our faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students working at the intersection of engineering and biology, with the chance to drive fundamental change and impact,” says Angela Belcher, head of the Department of Biological Engineering, the James Mason Crafts Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science, and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

The MIT-Northpond Program will include:

  • funding of up to five translational research projects per year, moving from proof-of-concept to commercialization;
  • support of two postdocs in the Department of Biological Engineering each year through the School of Engineering’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Excellence, with an emphasis on underrepresented groups, including women, while two faculty mentors also receive support; and
  • discretionary support to the School of Engineering for critical work and advancements in the life sciences.

“We have a shared mission and vision to promote and advance science and engineering and to make a marked impact on humanity. We see ourselves as a part of an ecosystem with the potential to advance engineering, science, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” says Michael Rubin, founder and CEO of Northpond Ventures, who will also serve as a visiting scholar in the Department of Biological Engineering.

Ernest Fraenkel will serve as faculty lead for the MIT-Northpond Program. Fraenkel is a professor in the Department of Biological Engineering and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The program will also include a joint steering committee, comprised of members from both MIT and Northpond, where Belcher and Rubin will serve as co-chairs.

“Through this program, we can provide transformational entrepreneurial and business opportunities to MIT’s incredible engineering and science talent,” says Sharon Kedar, co-founder and partner of Northpond Ventures. “Together, we will be able to impact humanity.”

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