Regeneron CSO George Yancopoulos to Deliver Keynote Address at BBI Kick-off Event

By Stella Paffenholz

BBI is excited to announce that Dr. George Yancopoulos, MD, PhD, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron, will give the keynote speech at this year’s kick-off event on September 13. Almost 30 years ago, Dr. Yancopoulos together with Dr. Len Schleifer, MD, PhD, launched Regeneron, one of the world’s most innovate biotech companies.

Dr. Yancopoulos was always fascinated and driven by science. After attending the Bronx High School of Science, he received his MD and PhD degrees from Columbia University as a graduate student of Dr. Fred Alt, PhD, a leading figure in molecular immunology. He studied the basic genetic mechanisms how immune genes are rearranged during development. Amongst many other innovative discoveries, Dr. Yancopoulos was the first researcher to introduce human immune genes into mouse cells and show that they can be successfully rearranged. These early studies laid the foundation for the development of Regeneron’s powerful technology VelocImmune®. VelocImmune mice carry a genetically humanized immune system that enables the development of fully human monoclonal antibodies. More than a dozen antibodies developed with this system have been put into the clinic to treat various diseases, including allergic asthma, arthritis, and cancer. Other innovations spearheaded by Dr. Yancopoulos include the Trap technology and VelociGene®, a rapid and high-throughput method to genetically manipulate the mouse genome, which was exploited to generate the VelocImmune mouse.

Dr. Yancopoulos has received various honors and awards. In addition to being a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 11th most highly cited scientist in the world during the 1990s. Moreover, he is the first R&D chief in the pharmaceutical industry to become a billionaire.

We are looking forward to host Dr. Yancopoulos at our kick-off event to learn about his career as an innovator and experiences in the biotech industry. The event marks the beginning of BBI’s 12-week seminar series. Class participants form teams and write business plans around patented technologies invented at Cornell University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University. At the end of the series the best teams will compete for prizes in BBI’s Annual Pitch Day Competition.


To register for the kick-off event click here.

To register for the full 12 week seminar series click here.

To look for teammates click here.


With the kick-off event approaching, BBI releases the 2017 syllabus

By Stella Paffenholz

Starting with the kick-off event on September 13th, BBI offers a 12-week course for students and professionals to learn the fundamentals of the biotech industry. The syllabus for this course has just been released (see below) and lists the BBI alumni or industry experts who participants will hear lectures from and, network with,  each week. Additionally, the syllabus summarizes the due dates for the assignments that help teams to formulate their business plans and pitches. The most successful teams will then present their final pitches to a panel of industry experts at the Pitch Day Competition on December 12th.

If you are interested in attending the BBI seminar series, click here.

To register for the Fall 2017 BBI Kickoff & Networking Event, click here.

If you have already decided to join the challenge and are looking for a team, click here.

The course syllabus is provided below*. More information can also be found on the BBI website.

Schedule: Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays, 6:00-7:30 PM @ Zuckerman Auditorium (Zrc.) (417 E. 68th St.), OR Belfer Research Building (BRB) Rooms 204 or 302 (413 E. 69th St.).

2017_syllabus*Please note that this is a tentative syllabus that may change slightly


BBI information session set to discuss Fall 2017 course and Pitch Day Competition

By Justin Morse

The Bench to Bedside Initiative (BBI) will start off the 2017 academic year with an information session this July 18th in the Belfer Research Building, room 204A, at 6:30pm. Thomas Galassi, president of BBI, will discuss the upcoming BBI course due to start this fall semester followed by a Q&A for interested participants. Tom will also answer questions about this September’s BBI kickoff event, an annual BBI event where entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists and business professionals will be able to find teammates for the December 2017 Pitch Day Competition. Pizza will be served.

BBI is composed of an interdisciplinary team from Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University that works to transform basic science insights within the Tri-I community into medical innovation. To that end, the BBI offers a yearly course for professionals and students alike to learn fundamentals of the biotech industry, from designing a business plan to delivering an effective business pitch at investor meetings. Over the course of 12 weeks, participants will build a business plan around patented technologies held by the Tri-I with the help of professionals within the BBI’s extensive network. The culmination of the semester-long course is the highly anticipated Pitch Day Competition, where BBI participants deliver their business pitch to a panel of leading experts from the biotech space, venture capitalists, and consultants.

Past participants of the BBI course and winners of the 2016 Pitch Day competition include OneThreeBiotech, a company that leverages techniques in artificial intelligence to guide drug discovery and design, and iDu Optics, inventors of a microscope adapter that enables users to take high quality micrographs with iPhone cameras. In addition to winning seed funding, accounting services and a combined $25,000 in legal consultation fees from Paul Hastings LLP at the 2016 Pitch Day, both OneThreeBiotech and iDu Optics have achieved accolades beyond the BBI setting. OneThreeBiotech placed best in show at the Mid Atlantic Bio Angels (MABA) 1st Pitch Life Science Event this past March. Not long after, iDu Optics took home first prize and $25,000 of seed funding from the inaugural Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab Biomedical Business Plan Challenge, a competition sponsored by Weill Cornell Medicine in May 2017 to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the medical campus.

Not all BBI participants are expected to turn the skills learned throughout the course into a full-fledged biotech startup. For many, the elective complements their ongoing training as clinicians or biomedical researchers. Says President Galassi, “the BBI course is a great way for students and professionals to develop an extra set of tools beyond their formal training”, continuing that “the course is a great opportunity to learn how discoveries in the lab or clinical setting can translate into innovation within the biotech space”. The ‘Bench to Bedside: Business Fundamentals for Entrepreneurial Scientists’ course begins this fall.

The Bench to Bedside Initiative Facebook page: a new place to network and find teammates

By Liz Calder and Thomas Galassi

The Bench to Bedside Initiative (BBI) is currently revamping its Facebook page to encourage interactive entrepreneurial discussion among inventors, scientists, and business professionals.  There is an impressive talent base within the Tri-I community with complementary ideas and skill-sets.  By providing a platform where people can easily connect and get to know each other better, BBI hopes to open up community-wide conversations on topics ranging from technologies to startup strategies.

The aim of the revamped Facebook page is for inventors, scientists, and business professionals to casually interact and see whether their skill-sets and personalities would be a good fit for a team. Getting to know each other better through causal interactions before assembling teams can help form stronger teams that work well together.

We also plan to start a discussion forum on the Bench to Bedside Initiative Facebook page that connects science and business backgrounds.  We want this to be a place where people can freely ask any kind of question or even post articles that may be of interest to the entrepreneurial community.  Whether you are wondering what the pros/cons of the different ways to incorporate are or are curious about patent timelines, please ask away.  The idea is that the diverse backgrounds of individuals using the page will allow questions to be answered by the BBI community.  This should serve as a discussion board where people can help each other out based on their own experiences or helpful resources they have found.  BBI hopes this can be a general resource as well as a forum for interesting discussion.

In addition to serving as a discussion forum, the page will also live stream certain BBI events, such as an informational session that will be held on July 18th. More information about these events and how to stream them will be available on the Bench to Bedside Initiative Facebook page in the near future; so keep checking out the page to stay up to date!

If you are an inventor interested in helping out with the discussion forum, please contact Liz Calder at

BBI Matchmaking event connects inventors, students and industry professionals

By Stella Paffenholz

On May 18 2017 the Bench to Bedside Initiative (BBI) together with Hacking Health NYC presented its second annual Commercializing Life Sciences Matchmaking event. Participants had the opportunity to meet and mingle with Tri-Institutional inventors and industry professionals to network and find teammates for the 2017 BBI course and Pitch Day Competition. The diverse group of attendees included people from academic research, technology, healthcare and the business communities.

The event’s keynote speech was delivered by Samuel Globus, the Director of Scientific Operations at Celmatix, a personalized medicine company focused on women’s health and fertility. The company was founded and is currently headed by Piraye Yurttas Beim, who laid the foundation for her expertise in personalized medicine during her doctoral work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Weill Cornell Medicine. Samuel Globus emphasized how important it is for students to get to know non-academic tracks early in their career and that – as he himself is also a former graduate student at Weill Cornell and MSKCC –the Bench to Bedside Initiative is very close to his heart.

The inspiring keynote talk was followed by a presentation by Du Cheng, founder of iDu Optics, and winner of both the Weill Cornell Medicine Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab $50K Biomedical Business Plan Challenge and 2016 Pitch Day Competition. Du’s company developed, and is currently selling, an imaging adapter for microscopes and portable electronic devices that helps researchers to more easily acquire and transmit imaging data.



Attendees network and look for team members at the BBI matchmaking event

Following Du’s presentation inventors were given the opportunity to spark the audience’s interest in their technologies by delivering one-minute pitches. The technologies were as diverse as the backgrounds of the attendees, ranging from an emergency response app, to artificial intelligence technology for drug target identification. Founders and inventors then presented their work with posters or interactive displays in a networking session, giving interested attendees the chance to learn more about the ideas or even try out the technology first-hand.

After the event BBI is staying engaged with attendees to keep them active in NYC’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Fostering such an ecosystem will hopefully create an environment where students can become exposed to business ideas and Tri-Intisutional start-ups can thrive.

BBI Alumni Learn How to Turn Business Plans into an Investment

By Thomas Galassi and Sarah Kishinevsky

Last summer the Weill Cornell Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab and the Cornell Center for Technology Licensing (CTL) worked together to host a “Patent Class Mini Series” as a follow up to the BBI course. Upon the completion of the mini-series participants filled out course evaluations and indicated an overwhelmingly positive reaction. Furthermore, when asked for suggestions, several participants indicated a desire for additional lectures.

In response to these requests the Weill Cornell Dean’s Entrepreneurship Lab and BioPharma Alliances and Research Collaborations expanded this series and offered a Biotechnology Due Diligence Workshop. The workshop consisted of 7 lectures covering:

  • Expanding your patent portfolio strategy as a startup
  • The important documents that are involved in starting a company
  • Incorporation
  • How to hire employees/consultants
  • Types of investors and investments
  • FDA compliance
  • University licensing
  • Walking through a standard term sheet with a venture capital investor


Workshop participants hear a lecture by Craig Kenesky

Lecturers for the course included Craig Kenesky, Ph.D. and Associate and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, PC, Vibhu Sachdev, JD. Cornell Technology Licensing, and Blake Stevens, Ph.D., Vice President at Harris and Harris Venture Capital and Private Equity. Specifically, these lecturers taught BBI alumni the steps necessary to turn a business plan built around a scientific discovery/invention into a seed funded startup company. From all accounts the lectures were extremely effective as participants indicated the workshop was “very practical”, “well organized”, and “provided a clear picture of starting a company.” Moreover, when asked to quantify their opinions participants gave the workshop  an average score of 4.69 out of 5 for being informative and 4.77 out of 5 for being interesting.

To keep this positive momentum going the Dean’s E-lab and BBI will continue to offer events throughout the spring. Next up will be the Weill Cornell Biomedical Business Plan Challenge and a BBI matchmaking event where inventors will showcase their technologies to attendees in hopes of forming the strongest business plan teams possible for this falls upcoming Pitch Day Competition.

iDU Optics and OneThreeBiotech Take Home Prizes at 2016 Pitch Day Finals

By Thomas Galassi

After three months of lectures and three rounds of business plan pitches we are proud to announce the winners and runners-up of the 2016 BBI Pitch Day competition as:

  • iDu Optics – LabCam microscope adapter (First Place)
    • Members:
      • Du Cheng – Tri-I MD/PhD Program, Inventor of technology
      • Shaun Tao, Rockefeller University
      • Yin-Yin Wang, Sales Representative, Stemcell Technologies
      • Tania Silcott, Clinical Analyst, Code Blue Informatics
Team iDu Optics with Nigel Liverton, Executive Director at WuXi AppTec
  • OneThree Biotech – A better approach to drug target convolution (Runner-up)
    • Members:
      • Neel Madhukar – Weill Cornell PhD Student, Inventor of Technology
      • Robert Fieldhouse – Post Doctoral Fellow, Mount Sinai
      • Suranjit Mukherjee – Weill Cornell PhD Student
      • Rafal Wiewiora – Tri-I PhD Student
Team OneThreeBiotech with their prize provided by the Big Red Venture Fund

In what was without a doubt the strongest, most competitive BBI Pitch Day competition yet, these two teams stood above the rest and captured several coveted, and valuable, prizes. Each team presented a phenomenal seven minute business plan pitch and then aptly responded to the judges during the ensuing four minute question and answer session.  For their performances on Pitch Day the teams were rewarded with several, extremely valuable prizes from some of BBI’s most gracious sponsors:

  • WuXi AppTec generously provided a $1000 prize for the first place iDu Optics team. WuXi AppTec is a leading global pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device open-access capability and technology platform global operation that provides a broad an integrated portfolio of services throughout the R&D process.
  • The Big Red Venture Fund and its fund manager Kiel Iwanek, provided a $500 prize for the second place OneThreeBiotech team. The Big Red Venture Fund is an early-stage venture capital fund operated entirely by a team of MBA students at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management that typically invests up to $250,000 in U.S.-based high-growth companies across all industries.
  • The Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels have presented iDu Optics with the opportunity to pitch at 1st Pitch Life Sciences, an event designed to encourage and educate aspiring life science entrepreneurs who know they may be too early to seek investment but want the opportunity to practice their pitch and to receive constructive criticism from experienced and knowledgeable professionals.
  • inDinero is graciously offering $500 in accounting services to both iDu Optics and OneThreeBiotech. inDinero is a software with service accounting company that acts as an outsourced controller for its clients that aims to free up its clients to focus on the more strategic imperatives of their business.

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, this year’s Pitch Day contestants will be well prepared should they decide to move their business plans forward and attempt to turn their technologies into incorporated start-up companies.

BBI would like to thank their gracious sponsors for their generous support