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UChicago Startup 4SR Biosciences Selected to Participate in Illumina Accelerator

4SR Cofounders Professor Tao Pan and Post Doctoral Researcher Chris Katankski, PhD ’19.

A University of Chicago startup, 4SR Biosciences participated in the Polsky Center’s Compass Deep Tech Accelerator Program and is now set to participate in the prestigious Illumina Accelerator.

“The Compass program was a huge catalyst for 4SR. The access to great coaches, dedicated mentors, and committed business development fellows pushed us to think about our technology in new ways as we defined what we want the company to be. We are extremely excited to participate in the Illumina Accelerator to continue developing our tRNA [transfer RNA] technology,” said Chris Katanski, PhD ’19, a post-doctoral researcher at the University who cofounded 4SR with Professor Tao Pan.

Compass is a six-month accelerator program for University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory researchers interested in launching new startup companies. Through this accelerator, participants gain access to world-class resources, including business expertise from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the Polsky Center, which has a successful track record in supporting the launch of new ventures. In addition, researchers gain guided support from a full staff of experts in everything from venture creation to top-tier business liaisons to legal support for intellectual property.

4SR – which also participated in the Polsky I-Corps program in 2019 – builds off of Pan’s decades of research into the biology and functional genomics of tRNA. The startup has developed an approach to generate libraries for next-generation sequencing focused on capturing the biology of tRNA. Its technology can simultaneously measure charging (aminoacylation), post-transcriptional modifications, fragmentation, and co-expression with other small RNAs. The aim is to create a tRNA-based biomarker screening platform for diagnostic and therapeutic innovations.

As a participant in the Illumina Accelerator, 4SR will gain access to seed investment and Illumina sequencing systems and reagents, as well as business guidance, genomics expertise, and fully operational lab space.

According to Illumina, approximately 93% of its accelerator investments have gone on to raise additional capital from leading investors. Since its inception in 2014, the Accelerator has invested in 68 genomics startups, which have collectively raised more than $1 billion in venture capital funding.

“A hands-on company creation engine and venture builder, Illumina Accelerator has a strong portfolio of 68 omics startups across the globe,” said Amanda Cashin, PhD, cofounder and Global Head of Illumina For Startups, in a press release.  “We are delighted to welcome our newest investments and are honored to partner with talented entrepreneurs around the world focused on unlocking the power of the genome to make an impact on human health and beyond.”

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