Device that Instantly Diagnoses Ear Infections, Non-Addictive Pain Relief Therapy that Replaces Opioids, Highly Specific Assessment of Cancerous Lesions Headline the Lundquist Institute’s Innovation Showcase

24 of California’s top biotech startups shared their products at October 14 event


LOS ANGELES — Local startups working on everything from a device that diagnoses children’s ear infections with the push of a button, to a gene therapy for those susceptible to addiction that could replace opioids as a painkiller, to a diagnostic that can provide a highly specific analysis of cancerous lesions shared their groundbreaking innovations at the Lundquist Institute’s (formerly known as LA BioMed) sixth annual Innovation Showcase on October 14. At the event, these entrepreneurs gave presentations to a select group of local life science and government leaders, investors, biotechnology executives, and other entrepreneurs, sharing the groundbreaking work taking place in the burgeoning biotech hot spot of Los Angeles.

Presenting companies included:

  • Cactus Health, which has developed a device that diagnoses ear infections in children with the push of a button; 
  • Navega Therapeutics, which is developing a gene therapy for pain relief that could replace opioids, a leading cause of drug addiction and early deaths in the United States; and
  • Catalia Health, which has created an artificial intelligence-powered virtual home health aide, providing 24/7 support to patients who need it but can’t afford a full-time person; and
  • ImaginAb, which has developed a platform that can make a highly specific assessment of each cancer lesion, potentially enabling a highly targeted treatment—and which announced a collaboration agreement early Monday morning with health care giants Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Takeda Pharmaceutical.

This year’s event was the first Innovation Showcase to be held at the crown jewel of the Lundquist Institute’s campus at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the new four-story, 78,000-square-foot Medical Research Lab building. The state-of-the-art building includes an 18,000-square-foot incubator, “BioLabs at The Lundquist,” with some of the most advanced equipment on the market. The new Medical Research Lab is a place where present and future innovators can build great bioscience companies for years to come—and the perfect setting for Monday’s event.

“From over 65 entries, a distinguished selection committee of over 25 active venture capitalists and big pharma executives chose 24 startup companies for this year’s Showcase. The competition was fierce, and I was delighted at the quality of selected presenters. The event was also blessed with a star-studded venture capital panel as well as great individual speakers covering a range of topics directly related to bioscience startups and the tools and insights that they need to be successful,” said Keith Hoffman, PhD, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Technology Transfer at The Lundquist Institute. “I want to thank all involved, from sponsors, selection committee members, speakers, and, of course, the innovative entrepreneurs that captivated us with their medical breakthroughs, for one heck of a great show!”

Drawing from throughout the western United States, the Innovation Showcase provided a forum for academic institutions to promote and share their startups and early stage technologies with leading investors and strategic partners. The program featured 24 curated bioscience presentations with two tracks (therapeutics and medical devices/other) along with a distinguished lineup of speakers. 

This year’s speakers include Bethany Mancilla, Vice President of Corporate Development at Kite Pharma, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences Inc.; Susie Harborth, Chief Operating Officer of BioLabs, Rohit Shukla, CEO of The Larta Institute, Sean Harper, Managing Director of Westlake Village BioPartners; Los Angeles County Supervisor Hon. Mark Ridley Thomas—and the Lundquist Institute President and CEO David Meyer as well as its Senior Vice President of Business Development and Technology Transfer, Keith Hoffman. 

“This institution is distinguishing itself in ways that might not have been imagined by others, but those who are here believe and they are showing what can be done when you have a vision and you are prepared to pursue it,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in his remarks.

“The Lundquist Institute has a nearly seven-decade track record of life sciences innovation,” said Dr. David Meyer, PhD, President and CEO of the Lundquist Institute. “As our institute enters a transformative phase, we were thrilled to welcome some of the next great health and science startups to our new state-of-the-art research facility.”