With the help of Columbia University’s Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Co-Director of the Craniofacial Regeneration Center, TARA Biosystems was founded by a rather large team of biomedical engineering post docs: Milica Radisic, Ph.D Professor, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering,Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, University of Toronto; Kacey Ronaldson, Ph.D ’11SEAS, ’15GSAS; Boyang Zhao and Yimu Zhao both now Ph.D students at the University of Toronto.
TARA Biosystems was founded when Misti Ushio, from the VC firm Harris and Harris (previously with Columbia Technology Ventures), began a conversation in 2013 about starting a company around the in vitro applications of tissue engineering, 3D biology, and predictive physiology. During this time, Gordana and her former student Milica Radisic (now a professor at the University of Toronto) had already been thinking about commercialization of a cardiac platform that other post docs in Gordana’s lab had developed with great success. This was the beginning of what ultimately became TARA Biosystems.
Of the five co-founders, four are women and three are under 30 (Kacey, Yimu, Boyang). The team’s work with Gordana at Columbia is supported by the NIH, FDA, and NCATS as they realize the potential that tissue-chips would have on the drug discovery and development processes.