MSIM team competes in venture competitions

A group of MSIM students recently won two awards for their diabetes management startup, Lumilin Therapeutics.
Lumilin therapeutics testing equipment in the lab.

Tufts Gordon Institute’s master’s of science degree in innovation and management (MSIM) gives students the opportunity to develop their skills in a range of practical areas including business, entrepreneurship, marketing, data science, and more. A key part of the curriculum includes semester-long ‘innovation sprints’ during which teams of MSIM students work to develop and scale an innovative solution to a real-world issue. Groups tackle issues from reducing water usage in golf course irrigation with drone technology to optimizing cavity-fighting toothpaste formulas. One such MSIM team is currently addressing the issue of type 1 diabetes management with its startup, Lumilin Therapeutics.

More than 2 million people in the US live with type 1 diabetes. Major difficulties experienced by patients in managing their diabetes include the cost and inconvenience of monitoring their glucose levels and administering themselves proper amounts of insulin. Lumilin Therapeutics’ technology presents a cost-effective and seamless solution that would make glucose monitoring less of an intrusion on the daily lives of people living with diabetes. The Lumilin team is composed of six MSIM students – Grayson Derossi (also pursuing an MS in computer science), Aahana Kanyal, Kerry McConnaughay (also pursing an MS in biomedical engineering), Kendall Rogoff, Ana Salas, and David Suh.

The startup aims to bring technology to market that was first developed in the Tufts research lab of Professor Emmanuel Tzanakakis – an implant of engineered cells that would automate the process of insulin monitoring and release. Targeted towards people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the technology could continuously monitor glucose levels and effectively eliminate the need for patients to track their levels and administer their own insulin. Tzanakakis, who is the chair of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and his group study stem cell engineering and optogenetic technologies with a particular focus on diabetes applications.

Two recent venture competitions at institutions outside of Tufts have awarded Lumilin Therapeutics for its business pitch. In the Moregenthaler-Pavey Startup Competition at Case Western Reserve University, the team won the $15,000 first prize in the venture track. At Washington University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards, Lumilin Therapeutics was one of three teams to receive exploration funding, which supports promising startups as they continue to develop. These two awards, along with the prizes won by other MSIM teams at the recent Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, demonstrate the wide-reaching impact of the MSIM program at Tufts and students’ commitment to advancing innovative solutions to real-world problems.