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 Anne Carpenter, Frederike Petzschner, and Betar Gallant Honoured with Entrepreneurship Awards

Twelve finalists participated in the 2023-24 MIT-Royalty Pharma Prize Competition, an initiative designed to support female biotech pioneers. The ideas presented at the recent awards ceremony promise potential benefits for patients with intractable cancers, chronic pain sufferers, and those relying on battery-powered medical implants. This year’s top prizes were awarded to researchers and biotech entrepreneurs Anne Carpenter, Frederike Petzschner, and Betar Gallant ’08, SM ’10, PhD ’13.

Kit Hickey MBA ’13, Executive Director of the MIT Faculty Founder Initiative, highlighted the dedication and effort the awardees and other finalists invested in bridging the gap between laboratory research and clinical application. “They have taken the first brave step of getting off the bench despite already working seven days a week. They’ve carved out time from their facilities, labs, and lives to leap into entrepreneurship,” Hickey said. “They’ve done it because they each want to see their innovations out in the world improving patients’ lives.”

Anne Carpenter, senior director of the Imaging Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and an institute scientist, won the competition’s $250,000 Grand Prize. Carpenter specializes in using microscopy imaging of cells and computational methods such as machine learning to accelerate the identification of therapeutic chemical compounds, particularly those that can shrink tumors. These compounds are tested in biological assays that model the tumor ecosystem to evaluate their performance on actual tumors.

Carpenter’s startup, SyzOnc, was launched in April, a milestone she attributes to the support from the MIT Faculty Founder Initiative. Participants in the program receive mentorship, stipends, industry advice, and assistance with incorporation, assembling a management team, fundraising, and intellectual property strategy.

“The program offered key insights and input at major decision points that gave us the momentum to open our doors,” Carpenter said. She added that participation “offered validation of our scientific ideas and business plan. That kind of credibility is really helpful for raising funding, particularly for those starting their first company.”

Carpenter and her team plan to employ “the best biological and computational advancements to develop new therapies to fight tumors such as sarcoma, pancreatic cancer, and glioblastoma, which currently have dismal survival rates.”

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