Novoheart is a global stem cell biotechnology company pioneering an array of next-generation human heart tissue prototypes. It is the first company in the world to have engineered miniature living human heart pumps that can revolutionize drug discovery, helping to save time and money for developing new therapeutics.
Also known as 'human heart-in-a-jar', Novoheart’s bioartificial human heart constructs are created using state-of-the-art stem cell and bioengineering approaches, and are utilized by major drug developers for accurate preclinical testing as to the effectiveness and safety of new drugs, maximizing the successes in drug discovery whilst minimizing costs and harm caused to patients.
- Trades on TSX Venture Exchange under symbol NVH
- Strategic partnerships with a leading global pharmaceutical company and renowned academic institutions
- Creators of the world’s first bioengineered human heart pump or ‘mini heart'
- Technologies include suite of drug discovery tools: the MyHeartTM Platform of human bioengineered heart tissues, as well as hardware and software tools for measurements and analyses using cutting-edge machine learning approaches
- IP Portfolio includes 2 granted and 11 pending worldwide patents
- Founded in 2014 based on over 15 years of scientific research in top academic institutes, with C$50MM cumulative research funding
- Foundational science received major recognitions including American Heart Association’s Best Study of 2005, Ground-breaking Study of 2006, and Late-breaking Studies of 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007, and the Spirit of Hong Kong Innovating for Good Award in 2015
- The “human-heart-in-a-jar” technology was selected by Google’s Solve For X as a Moonshot Project in 2015
Prof. Ronald Li is a co-founder of Novoheart, and has been serving as the CEO since 2016. He is concurrently Director of Ming-Wai Lau Centre for Reparative Medicine, HK node, Karolinska Institutet (KI), Sweden. Prof. Li has been an advocate of stem cell technology for many years, starting from his career as Assistant Professor of Cardiology, and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) School of Medicine. He founded and led the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Consortium when he was recruited in 2005 to become a tenured Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis, in light of state’s USD3-billion stem cell initiative Proposition 71. Prof. Li also co-directed the Section of Cardiovascular Cell & Tissue Engineering in Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with Prof. Kevin Costa. Prof. Li has received multiple accolades and recognitions during his career, including the Spirit of Hong Kong Innovating for Good Award by the South China Morning Post (2015), the Top Young Faculty Award (2002, 2004), the Top Prize for the Young Investigator Basic Research (2001) and Top Postdoctoral Fellow Helen Taussig Award (2001) of JHU School of Medicine, Young Investigator Award 1st Prize from the Heart Rhythm Society (2002), and the Career Development Award from the Cardiac Arrhythmias Research & Education Foundation (2001). Prof. Li graduated with his B.S. with honors in Biotechnology from University of Waterloo, Ontario, on Dean’s List and his Ph.D. in Cardiology/Physiology at the University of Toronto.
Prof. Costa is one of the scientific co-founders of Novoheart, and has served as the CSO since 2017. He is Director of Cardiovascular Cell and Tissue Engineering at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and was previously trained at the Johns Hopkins University and on the faculty as Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. As a "blue-blood" biomedical engineering (BME) expert (B.S. and M.S. in BME from Boston University, Ph.D. in BME from UC San Diego, and postdocs in BME from JHU and Washington University) in cell and tissue biomechanics and cardiac tissue engineering, he has developed one of the first engineered cardiac tissue systems and is an inventor of several cardiac tissue engineering technologies. Since 2009, he has been working with Prof. Ronald Li to translate such systems into human cells. Prof. Costa has received research funding from the Whitaker Foundation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH; NHLBI, NIBIB, and NIGMS). He was also a recipient of the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the NSF.
Dr. Bernard Fermini joined Novoheart as Chief Research & Development Officer in 2018. Dr. Fermini has been a leading figure and expert in cardiac safety pharmacology for over two decades. Prior to joining Novoheart, Dr. Fermini was Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of Safety & Toxicology Assessment at Coyne Scientific. Previously, he spent 17 years at Pfizer Inc., where he held positions of increasing responsibilities including Co-chair of the Global Safety Pharmacology Department and subsequently Head of the Ion Channel discipline. Prior to joining Pfizer, he held senior scientific positions at Merck, and the Montreal Heart Institute.
Dr. Fermini received a B.S. in Physiology from the University of Montreal, and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of Sherbrooke (Canada); he completed his post-doctoral training at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. He has authored >50 scientific publications, and has been a guest lecturer at MIT and the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Fermini brings his substantial expertise in safety pharmacology to complement Novoheart’s scientific team’s strengths in stem cell and tissue engineering. Since 2013, Dr. Fermini has been the Co-chairman of the Ion Channel Working Group of the Comprehensive in vitro Proarrhythmia Assay (CiPA) initiative headed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As Co-chairman, his responsibilities include overseeing the research into identifying next-generation in vitro screening methods for effective detection of potential drug-induced cardiac arrhythmias before clinical trials. Dr. Fermini is also a Board Member on the CiPA Steering Committee and committee member of the Safety Pharmacology Society, as well as an active member of Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI) Cardiac Safety Committee and the Society of Toxicology.
Dr. Gabriel Wong obtained both his B.A. and Ph.D degrees at the University of Cambridge, U.K., the latter under the supervision of Dr. Michael Hastings at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, studying mammalian cellular circadian rhythms. He underwent his first postdoctoral training at the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, followed by joining the laboratory of Prof. Ronald Li and Dr. Camie Chan at the University of Hong Kong in 2013, where his primary research interest was the role of autophagy as a stress coping mechanism in the human heart, using human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes as an in vitro model. He acquired during this experience the training and expertise in the field of cardiac tissue engineering. He joined Novoheart in 2015, where he serves as V.P. Scientific Development managing the research team in the application of the MyHeartTM platform of cardiac tissue constructs in drug screening projects.
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