Innovation in Action

Harvard’s support and partnership have helped numerous faculty, students, and alumni make life-saving discoveries and launch significant ventures to improve human health. Some recent examples:

  • Harvard’s Office of Technology Development helped University innovators obtain 125 U.S. patents and secure nearly $43 million in industry-sponsored research during the year ending June 30, 2015.
  • Editas Medicine is a genome editing company, founded in 2013 by Harvard alumni and faculty who are world leaders in genome editing, that aims to translate its proprietary technology into new therapies to treat a broad range of genetically driven diseases that have resisted other genetic approaches.
  • Poly6 Biotechnologies is a student-led venture that is using the bioresorbable polymer it developed, Citrene, to make implantable medical devices that prevent abdominal and pelvic adhesions. The team received support from the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-Lab).
  • Sawubona Health is a nonprofit in South Africa, launched by Harvard students, that sends HIV patients supportive, personalized text messages to remind them to take their medication. The startup received iLab support, and one co-founder, Nathan Georgette, AB ’13, now attends HMS (Class of 2017).
  • Faculty member Donald Ingber, MD, PhD, is leading the development of “organs on chips”—tiny three-dimensional models of human organs (such as lungs, kidney, and gut) that can be used for testing new drugs as an alternative to animal models. Ingber, who started a company to produce these replicas, is Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at HMS, among other Harvard titles.
  • In the fight against Ebola, HMS researchers partnered with the Office of Technology Development to license compounds (potential drugs) that stop the virulent virus from entering cells, while HMS investigators collaborated on field tests in West Africa that showed a new diagnostic test performed at bedside can quickly and accurately confirm Ebola infection.