WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) launched a new monthly series on Friday called “Murphy’s Innovator of the Month.” Each month, Murphy will recognize one of Connecticut’s distinct startups or innovators for their outstanding contributions to Connecticut. Murphy will work directly with the innovators selected each month to identify specific steps he can take at the federal level to support Connecticut’s startup, bioscience, and entrepreneurial community. The awardee will also receive an official U.S. Senate certificate of achievement.
This week, Murphy is highlighting IsoPlexis of Branford, Connecticut, as “Murphy’s Innovator of the Month” for their work combatting cancer. IsoPlexis is developing an instrument and software that provide in-depth analyses of immune and cancer cell activity to predict which patients will positively respond to cancer immunotherapies. IsoPlexis was founded in 2013 by Sean Mackay and Dr. Rong Fan of Yale University, with help from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. IsoPlexis utilizes technologies developed by Dr. Fan and Dr. James Heath, Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, to detect responses from thousands of individual patient cells and effectively target personalized cancer therapies for patients in need.
IsoPlexis has grown to a team of twenty-two biologists, immunologists, product engineers, and software engineers over the last three years. The team currently works in collaboration with leading clinical researchers and biopharmaceutical companies. They plan to launch their system for use in external laboratories in the near future.
IsoPlexis has raised over $10 million in venture capital funding and has won four National Institute of Health Small Business Innovation Research grants. Their technology and data have been featured in over twenty-five peer-reviewed journal publications, and they are proud to collaborate with Connecticut-based academic institutions like Yale University, Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research, University of Connecticut, University of New Haven, and Quinnipiac University.
“I’ve launched my new ‘Innovator of the Month’ series to tell the positive story of Connecticut’s booming innovation sector and help our startups get the exposure they deserve. I want to be a partner to Connecticut’s innovators – to help them knock down road blocks and cut through red tape so they can grow jobs,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to launch my series with IsoPlexis as the inaugural awardee. The folks at IsoPlexis are doing breakthrough work to make cancer treatments more effective and stop this deadly disease in its tracks—that’s something to celebrate. I’m proud that Connecticut’s community of world-class universities and the entrepreneurship hub of Greater New Haven has played such an important role in helping them launch their business. We should be doing everything we can to support startups in this country, especially those with high growth potential like IsoPlexis.”
Sean Mackay, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of IsoPlexis, said, “We are honored to have been chosen as the Innovator of the Month for January 2017. Cancer and auto-immune diseases have tremendous unmet therapeutic and diagnostic need, and we are excited to continue to execute on our vision to improve precision medicine in cancer, and beyond, through our innovative cellular detection technologies. Starting our company jointly with Yale and then growing it in the broader Connecticut ecosystem has offered us access to experienced scientific and engineering staff, angel investors, and longer term partners. The proximity to both Boston and New York City make Branford and the surrounding New Haven area a fantastic hub for life sciences companies.”
Murphy believes entrepreneurship and innovation are building blocks for a strong economy. In the U.S. Senate, he has introduced two bipartisan pieces of legislation to incentivize angel investors to put more money into startup companies – the Angel Tax Credit Act and the Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act. Earlier this week, Murphy’s HALOS Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Startup companies create an average of 2 million jobs each year.
Murphy is also focused on securing federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for Connecticut research institutions. Murphy recently helped secure over $4.8 billion for NIH over 10 years for new investments in cancer treatment and medical research, and celebrated a $2 billion increase in NIH federal investments for research institutions, such as those in Connecticut, that are working to develop new medical therapies, diagnostics, and preventative measures. Murphy also called on NIH to commit more resources to Connecticut’s leading research institutions, like Yale University. In 2015, Connecticut institutions received over $457.3 million in federal NIH grant funding for 1,100 projects.