LabCentral Ignite Awards Four Golden Tickets to Support Entrepreneurial Diversity in Biotech

Underrepresented biotech founders developing new health solutions will have access to LabCentral’s lab space, resources and community

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., October 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — LabCentral Ignitewith the support of major sponsors Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb and Mission BioCapital, today announced the winners of its second annual Golden Ticket competition: Cellens, Guardian Bio, Therapeutic QurCan and Spheric Bio. The winners were announced at LabCentral Ignite Biodiversity Summit and Awardsa new annual event that brings together the entire biotech ecosystem to discuss actionable areas of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the field.

LabCentral Ignite Golden Tickets are designed to help underrepresented biotech entrepreneurs who research and develop high-impact solutions to human health challenges bring their ideas to life. Four Ignite Golden Tickets have been awarded in total – two to female founders and two to founders of color – and each will receive one year of advisory support and a place in LabCentral’s shared lab space at Cambridge.

“Like many other fields, the life sciences sector has historically failed to engage underserved individuals and communities in the academic, practical training and career opportunities that are typically widely available to majority populations,” said Jo Viney, CEO, President and Co-Founder of Seismic Therapeutics, and member of the LabCentral Ignite Golden Ticket Selection Committee. “LabCentral’s Ignite Golden Ticket program tackles this problem head-on, going beyond simply recognizing these high-potential biotech entrepreneurs by putting a comprehensive toolkit for success at your fingertips, from the space of lab and resources to essential connections with peers, industry partners, VCs and Suite.”

The winners of the second annual Ignite Golden Ticket are:

Women founders:

  • Ananya Zutchico-founder and CEO of Guardian Bio, a startup focused on using patients’ own stem cells to fight disease, starting with cancer
  • Ellen Rochefounder of Spheric Bio, which is developing an intracardiac device for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who are at risk for stroke and are ineligible for blood thinners

Founders of the color:

  • John Phamco-founder and CEO of Cellens, a company pioneering accurate, non-invasive bladder cancer detection tests to support physician decisions and improve patient quality of life
  • Muhammad Ali Aminico-founder, president and CEO, QurCan Therapeutics, which is developing nanomedicine that uses its TERP technology to address major unmet needs, such as overcoming drug resistance, for the treatment of cancer and other diseases

Ignite Golden Ticket submissions are reviewed by a selection committee made up of leaders in the field of life sciences. Assessments are based on the quality and potential impact of the science, as well as other standard selection criteria. The committee then identifies a limited number of finalists who receive advanced coaching and mentoring to help them prepare to present their pitch, after which the winning companies are chosen.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see our Ignite Golden Ticket program continue to grow, thanks in large part to our industry sponsors,” said Gretchen Cook Anderson, executive director of LabCentral Ignite. “Our second annual competition has doubled the number of underrepresented entrepreneurs who will now have access to our labs and our entire LabCentral network of peers, mentors, partners and investors, opening up a world of possibilities so that they develop new therapies, drugs and technologies for human health that can ultimately improve and save lives.”

As the only platform exclusively focused on addressing systemic racial, gender, and other underrepresentation in biotechnology, Ignite has generated significant results since its launch in 2020. For example, scholarship funding, curriculum development and training reached over 1,000 students and 33 trainees. Ignite has also awarded six Ignite Golden Tickets to start-up companies with various founders and provided substantial support for STEM education and biotech skills training.

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About LabCentral Ignite
The growing Ignite platform is dedicated to advancing equity, inclusion, and opportunity in life sciences. Through a range of equity-focused programs and a growing network of members from industry, startups, higher education and nonprofits, Ignite connects underrepresented students, talent and innovators to teaching, technical skill building, mentoring, job placement, and board and leadership preparation. opportunities that fuel biotech diversity and transform careers in inclusive ways. More information is available at

About Lab Central
A private non-profit institution, Central Lab was founded in 2013 as launching ramp for high-potential startups in life sciences and biotechnology. Operating a total of 225,000 square feet in the heart of Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., Central Lab offers fully licensed laboratory and office space for up to 100 startups comprising approximately 1,000 scientists and entrepreneurs. More information is available at www.central