Rady School Lab to Market Company is Unleashing the Power of Stem Cells

By Keri Peckham, for @UCSD Alumni Magazine


Since its founding, the Rady School of Management has considered Lab to Market, a three-course series focused on commercializing innovation, the signature component of its MBA curriculum. Other MBA programs require capstone projects, but its focus on moving discovery into the marketplace differentiates the Lab to Market program and the Rady School as a whole.

The goals of Lab to Market resonated with a group of Rady MBAs in the class of 2009. Justin Bingham, Thomas Fellner, Jessica Wei and Marie Zhang all had impressive backgrounds in both science and business when joining the Rady School. But they also had a dream of starting their own company and that is what they set out to do when they founded MicroStem Inc. leveraging the Lab to Market program at the Rady School.

While working at UC San Diego’s Human Embryonic Stem Cell Core Facility, Fellner was part of a team led by bioengineering Professor Shu Chien that developed and evaluated the technology MicroStem uses to advance therapeutic discoveries using stem cells.

MicroStem’s core technology is an array platform that creates microscopic in vitro environments potentially mimicking events as they naturally occur within the body. This allows them to generate defined cell culture conditions supporting growth, expansion and differentiation of human stem cells. MicroStem’s initial focus is developing products that support differentiation of human stem cells into tissue specific cells for cell replacement therapy. They are also focusing on identifying conditions for the derivation and growth of cancer stem cell lines from cancer patients, which are provided to pharmaceutical clients for drug discovery. Another goal is to generate cell lines for the development of new drugs and therapies for diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Today, MicroStem is in negotiations with pharmaceutical and life science companies for partnerships and collaborations. For more information visit www.microstem.com.

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