Entrepreneurship at Cornell (eLab) is a diverse, university-wide program that finds and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in participants from every college, every field, and in every stage of life. Grounded in the belief that individuals who exhibit an entrepreneurial spirit and have acquired entrepreneurial knowledge can add significant value to any working environment from the smallest startup to the largest business, from non-profits to government agencies.

In an effort to build that community now, and to bring together people who are interested in entrepreneurship, on Jan. 26, 2017, the eLab co-hosted a Startup Symposium with Cornell University, with the idea of gathering scientists, doctors, investors and mentors for a night of networking and conversation, with the hope that researchers who are working on a concept with commercial potential will be able to form the collaborations necessary to move it down the development pipeline.

The event included five start-ups and 20 posters.  The Englander Institute for Precision Medicine presented during the poster session, “Healthcare Applications for Immersive Remote Collaboration of 3D Medical Data using Virtual and Mixed Reality,” providing visitors with an immersive experience into three applications developed for use in the healthcare setting meant to overcome some of the challenges inherent in the field of precision medicine.  For example, with the advent of precision medicine, healthcare is becoming increasingly data-intensive involving integrating terabytes of information generated from genome sequencing, heart rate, past clinical information, etc. Yet, there are no comprehensive tools that allow for medical data visualization of such high complex information.  To this end, we presented three applications created at Weill Cornell: HoloGraph, Oculome and DropSeq that allow for 3D immersive data visualization in remote collaborative environments using virtual (Oculus Rift) and mixed reality (Microsoft HoloLens).

Hands-on demonstration at the event by Research Associate at Weill Cornell Medicine, Alex Sigaras, gave viewers a glympse of the ease of use and ability to visualize and manipulate complex multi-dimensional structures, cancer mutations on protein structures, and even allow collaborators from remote locations to participate in data analysis in real time.

precision medicine cancer

Alex Sigaras, Senior Research Associate

Alex Sigaras gives demonstration on stretching protein structures using the VR HoloGraph app.

The event also featured a talk from Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center and a professor of cancer biology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, who co-founded two companies, most recently Petra Pharma that emanated from his work at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Juan R. Cubillos-Ruiz, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who shared his experience as a new faculty member co-founding his New York City-based startup Quentis Therapeutics, which is focused on developing the next generation of cancer immunotherapies.

“Innovation is essential to solve healthcare challenges, and here at Weill Cornell Medicine, we realized that we were sitting on a goldmine of unrealized potential,” said Larry Schlossman, managing director of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Office of Biopharma Alliances and Research Collaborations, the umbrella organization that designed and launched eLab. “The eLab is just one of the ways in which we’re working proactively to help bridge the gap between the promising ideas developed by our researchers and faculty members and the biopharmaceutical industry, which can deliver these innovations to the patients who need them. We also want to grow the next generation of leaders in the life sciences industries and provide new career paths for members of our community, students and postdocs in particular.”

While the eLab officially launched less than a year ago in March 2016, hundreds of students have already taken the flagship 12-week course in entrepreneurship, called the Bench to Bedside Initiative. This course covers everything from defining a drug or device’s market to writing a business plan to securing a patent to incorporating, and culminates in a pitch day to venture capitalists. The eLab also sponsors an annual business plan competition, in which students can earn $15,000 or more in various prizes to pursue their vision.

To see some of our VR work in action, please check out this video our YouTube channel.  For more information on eLab, please visit their website.