Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, PhD

Dr. Khoshakhlagh is the CEO and co-founder of GC Therapeutics (GCTx), a platform company that uses synthetic biology in order to treat a broad range of diseases with induced pluripotent stem cells. The company was co-founded by Dr. George Church and Dr. Alex Ng at Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. GCTx was the recipient of the Harvard Biomedical Blavatnik Award in 2018 and received the Massachusetts Life Science Day 2018 award for the development of the novel cell therapy platform which utilizes first-of-its-kind genetic engineering tools. Prior to this she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Ali Khademhosseini at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Dr. Khoshakhlagh is also the co-founder, co-inventor and former CSO of Tympanogen Inc., a woman-led company which is developing Perf-Fix, the first non-surgical, minimally invasive 3D hydrogel patch to heal chronic eardrum ruptures. Tympanogen has won multiple national and international awards such as the NASA Earth / Space Life Science Innovation Award and the nCourage Courageous Women Entrepreneur Prize. Dr. Khoshakhlagh and her co-founder and CEO, Dr. Elaine Horn-Ranney, worked with NASA and the Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the manager of the International Space Station, to investigate the effect of microgravity on hydrogel structure and drug release capabilities which was launched into space on the SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship in a first-of-its-kind experiment.

She completed her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in the lab of Dr. Michael Moore, a Langer lab alumnus, at Tulane University. Her work during her PhD led to her being a co-inventor on a U.S. patent application that led to the creation of Axosim, a start-up that develops drug screening nerve-on-a-chip products. In addition, Dr. Khoshakhlagh has previously received a prestigious award from the NIH, the Avon Foundation and the Center For Advancing Innovation for creating a developmental pathway for a reconstructive scaffold for breast cancer.

Presentation Abstract
From tunable matrices to genetically engineered 3D tissues, there are a broad range of novel tools under development for medical device, drug discovery and regenerative medicine applications. Recently developed physiologically relevant 3D models have allowed more realistic drug screening tools, biomimetic cell growth scaffolds and organoid models which have significantly improved translational research and regenerative medicine. In 3 independent efforts, we have explored and are in the process of commercializing products which utilize these concepts to address major unmet needs in medical devices, drug screening and regenerative medicine. One application includes the development of the first non-invasive, non-surgical 3D photopolymerizable matrix for chronic tympanic membrane perforation repair which leads to tissue regeneration similar to native physiology. This model can be extended to analytic and drug discovery applications in cases such as a tunable hydrogel-based 3D high-throughput nerve-on-a-chip model that is a leap forward in representing the physiology of various nervous system diseases, providing a rapid way to collect human data. Lastly, to create realistic synthetic tissues from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) we produce multicellular systems that co-develop from a single source, which bridges the gap for clinical translation through the use of genetically defined protocols to differentiate parallel cell fates without additional soluble factors that interfere between lineages. These technologies demonstrate the strength of emerging 3D technologies to address major shortcomings in the field.