Two Tulane Cancer Research Teams Win Worldwide Startup Challenge

The Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, designed to promote the advancement of breast cancer research, recently announced the ten winners of the worldwide competition. Two Tulane University teams were among the winners chosen to help bring emerging breast cancer research technologies to market, beating out over 200 other finalist teams.

Challenge winners lined up after the award ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge.

Challenge winners lined up after the award ceremony. Photo courtesy of the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge.

The first team–  Frank Glaser (MD/MBA Candidate,Tulane School of Medicine and Columbia Business School), Brian Hasselfeld (M.D. Candidate, Tulane School of Medicine), and Parastoo Khoshakhlagh (Ph.D. Candidate, Tulane School of Engineering)– was picked to develop a platform for new bioactive breast tissue reconstructive options.

“The Challenge provided an unique and incredible opportunity to get involved in developing a life-saving breast cancer technology, and we’re excited to have put together such a strong team that will work hard to bring a product with multiple medical indications to market for the benefit of breast cancer patients worldwide,” said Glaser. “We would like to thank everyone involved in the Challenge, especially CAI, the Avon Foundation, and Dr. Burg and her team at Clemson University. Finally, we want to extend a special thanks to Shafin Khan and his commercialization team at New Orleans BioInnovation Center for their continued support of our entrepreneurial efforts.”

The second team, comprised of Ph.D. postdoctoral fellow Murali Anbalagan and M.D. candidates Brian Yu and Richard Tang, spent time developing a diagnostic kit that will help predict clinical outcome from taxane-based chemotherapy.

“Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the U.S. alone, and this kit can have a major impact on determining a more personalized course of treatment for these patients,” said Yu. “Our team is looking forward to building a startup to develop this technology and improve breast cancer treatment options for women around the world.”

Both teams received $5,000 and are invited to launch a startup, negotiate licensing agreements, and raise seed funding to further develop these inventions because of the challenge.

All inventions were developed at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and at an Avon Foundation-funded university lab. Avon is providing $250,000 in funding for the challenge, which is one of the largest global university business plan challenges to date.

“NCI has always had a strong interest in fostering young investigators and the fact that this challenge pairs each student team with entrepreneur-mentors to assist in the development of the business plans is another example of how we can bring new ideas and energy to cancer research,” said Douglas Lowy, M.D., NCI deputy director.

See all the pitches here.