Author: Brian Conlin

Corporate Collaborations

Bluefield Innovations Pursues Broadly Applicable Cancer Target

Bluefield Innovations Pursues Broadly Applicable Cancer Target


Bluefield Innovations, a collaboration between the Johns Hopkins University and Deerfield Management to catalyze early stage therapeutic development, announced today the acceptance and funding of its first project. The target, the enzyme RNA polymerase I (Pol I), is implicated in many forms of cancer.

Originating in the lab of Marikki Laiho, MD, Ph.D., the Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor of Radiation Oncology and director of the Division of Molecular Radiation Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the discovery illustrates how cancer cells disproportionately rely on the Pol I cellular pathway when compared to normal cells. Laiho’s research indicates that interfering with this pathway kills cancer cells while causing little harm to normal cells. The acceptance of this project comes just two months after the launch of Bluefield Innovations.

“We are excited to accept Dr. Laiho’s project into Bluefield Innovations and show our commitment to the goal of advancing promising research projects,” says James Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield Management.

Dr. Marikki Laiho
Bluefield will provide scientific, financial and operational support to Laiho’s research, enabling her team to identify the clinical lead molecule and to move that candidate toward human clinical trials. Ultimately, this support could lead to the development of a first-in-class small molecule drug.

“I truly appreciate the opportunity to align with a collaborator that shares the same mindset and goals surrounding early stage research targets,” Laiho says. “Bluefield understands that new targets and first-in-class molecules require a higher level of due diligence and with that, they provide the expertise to support the extensive ground work required for the IND process.”

A joint steering committee consisting of representatives from Johns Hopkins and Deerfield selected Laiho’s research to receive the first round of support from Bluefield. The initial five-year term of Bluefield Innovations will provide support and funding to approximately a dozen Johns Hopkins faculty and researchers. A call for applications will take place in the first quarter of 2018.

“Bluefield Innovations provides a valuable avenue for Johns Hopkins researchers to unleash the potential of their promising work,” says William Nelson, MD, Ph.D., professor of oncology and director of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. “Dr. Laiho’s research may prove to be a transformational cancer treatment. We’re excited that Bluefield has provided her an opportunity to accelerate its development and commercialization.”

Click here for the announcement of Bluefield Innovations!


M-1 Ventures Startups Highlight 16 Weeks of Growth, Promising…

M-1 Ventures Startups Highlight 16 Weeks of Growth, Promising Outlooks


M-1 Ventures concluded this month, but the accelerator’s intense focus on driving revenue and protracted growth will help sustain its four startups for years.

In August, the connected health and fitness accelerator supported by the Johns Hopkins University, UM Ventures, Plank Industries and others selected its inaugural cohort. After Labor Day, the ventures began an intense 16-week curriculum designed to help scale their businesses.

“One of the most subtle but important ways M-1 Ventures is different from the 1,100 other accelerators in the United States is that we didn’t do anything with innovation,” says M-1 Ventures co-director Paul Singh. “It’s about entrepreneurship.”

At the M-1 Ventures Demo Day on Dec. 13, the 2017 cohort — b.well, BurnAlong, MileMarker and RoundTrip — showcased how the accelerator changed the trajectory of their businesses. Each came in with viable products and marketplace traction, now they move forward with more leads, new plans and stronger sales projections.

Here’s a highlight from each of the Demo Day presentations:


Challenge: People want to improve their fitness, but too often motivation is fleeting.
Solution: BurnAlong provides an online video fitness and wellness platform that enables users to work out with top instructors from across the country and their friends.
Result: BurnAlong currently has 400 business partners and more than 3,000 members.

*Awarded an additional $25,000 through a peer-review investment model.



Challenge: More and more people are turning to digital health services to track and manage their care, but a lack of integration among these services limits their effectiveness.
Solution: B.well’s online platform puts customers at the center of their health care by simplifying access to health data, insurance and on-demand health services.
Result: Since joining M-1 Ventures, b.well has onboarded two new clients and grown its pipeline more than 300 percent. After closing its first year of sales with $1.6 million, it projects to have more than $11.5 million in 2018.

*Awarded an additional $25,000 through a peer-review investment model.



Challenge: Today’s method of evaluating performance of surgical residents inhibits their professional development and makes it difficult to identify high performers.
Solution: MileMarker™ is an on-the-job, real-time assessment software for surgical training currently being used by Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland
Result: When M-1 Ventures began in September, MileMarker had five leads. By the conclusion of the accelerator, they had 200.


Challenge: Each day, 10,000 patients miss or delay care because of transportation issues.
Solution: RoundTrip’s online platform connects hospitals and patients with on-demand, non-emergency transportation.
Result: Interactions with Johns Hopkins experts facilitated by M-1 Ventures opened a new revenue pipeline through predictive analytics. The company expects to grow its revenue from $75,000 to $1.4 million.

Click here to learn more about M-1 Ventures!


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