Category Archives: Company News

Fairbanks Building Connections to Potential Partners and Collaborators

Fairbanks was selected this year to participate at the NIH Innovation Conference (NIC) and Life Sciences Summit (LSS). These are exciting opportunities to pitch to mentors, investors and possible interested partners.

At the October 13 NIC, Fairbanks CEO Alan Schneyer presented the company via the video linked below, and industry mentors provided evaluations and feedback. The mentors expressed interest and provided some very positive comments like “The idea of converting alpha cells to beta cells is compelling!”

NIC is sponsored by SEED (Small business Education and Entrepreneurial Development) in the NIH Office of Extramural Research, and Fairbanks is very grateful to SEED for organizing the event and coordinating connections.

Next up is the Life Sciences Summit, November 17-18, sponsored by the Center for Biotechnology. At this event, Fairbanks will present as part of the Emerging Company Showcase. Event organizers say “Each company featured in the Emerging Company Showcase was nominated, reviewed and invited to present based upon their innovative science and the quality of their management team.”

This will be a valuable opportunity to connect with potential partners and collaborators, and the company is excited to be part of it.

Pitch video delivered to October 13, 2020 NIH Innovation Conference by Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals CEO Alan Schneyer

Read Latest Abstract Based on Fairbanks Research

The abstract for the paper that Fairbanks CEO Dr. Alan Schneyer would have been discussing at the canceled ENDO 2020 meeting in March has now been published in Journal of the Endocrine Society. The abstract is titled “FSTL3 Neutralizing Antibodies Restore Function to Diabetic Mouse and Human Islets: A New Approach for Treating Diabetes”.

The studies that would have been presented include a determination of how the therapy works on its target FSTL3 as well as a demonstration that the therapy can restore insulin secretion to diabetic beta cells.  Animal studies are underway that hopefully will lead to human trials in the not too distant future.

Fairbanks Research Continues During Pandemic

From Fairbanks CEO Dr. Alan Schneyer:

When Governor Baker instituted the state of emergency in Massachusetts, Fairbanks remained in operation, with reduced staffing and limited contact in the laboratory, with the unfortunate result of decreased rate of progress. However with the recent award of a Payroll Protection Program loan, all Fairbanks employees are back at work, although with a limit of one technician per day to minimize chances of COVID-19 contagion.  We are very grateful for the long hours spent by Middlesex Savings Bank to approve, process, and submit our loan application.  

Despite our reduced presence during this period, we have continued our work toward a second generation antibody to FSTL3 and initiated a program to develop a monkey version of this antibody, which will fast-track our path to in vivo proof of concept.  With this new approach, our diabetes therapy will be a more attractive and de-risked opportunity for investors.  

Visit Fairbanks at ENDO 2020 (Updated)

UPDATE 3/11/20: the Endocrine Society has canceled ENDO 2020. Dr Schneyer’s abstract will be published by the Journal of the Endocrine Society; we will publish a link later in the spring when it is available.

If you’re attending this year’s Endocrine Society meeting in San Francisco, be sure to visit with Fairbanks CEO Dr. Alan Schneyer on March 30 at 9:15 AM at the “Entrepreneurship and Industry in Endocrinology” symposium promoting and discussing the entrepreneurial career path for society members.  Dr Schneyer will address topics including starting a company to develop a new endocrine-related therapy or technology and funding the company through various stages.  The session will be followed by a networking opportunity for additional contact with the speakers. 

As highlighted recently in Endocrine News, Dr Schneyer has been promoting entrepreneurism in discussion with trainees at numerous institutions about careers in science.  Part of this advocacy has been focused on creating an entrepreneurial track at professional scientific meetings such as the Endocrine Society in which he has been a member for his entire career. 

At ENDO 2019, Dr Schneyer participated in a well-attended symposium highlighting three Endocrine Society members who have started companies and were at distinct phases of therapy development and commercialization. 

On March 29th at 11:00 Dr. Schneyer will also present research and development progress at Fairbanks in developing a novel therapy for diabetes.  March will be an exciting time for Fairbanks, stay tuned for more details!

Fairbanks Celebrates 5th Anniversary

On November 22, 2019 the co-Founders and employees of Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals celebrated the company’s 5th anniversary at a Springfield Thunderbirds hockey game.

Clockwise from upper left: Co-founders Alan Schneyer and Elissa Brown embrace the Thunderbird mascot; Nolan, Alexa and Andre; past and present employees including Danielle; Lara and kids and Melissa; Alden and family.

Here’s to a repeat in 5 years with a larger crowd!

Fairbanks chosen to pitch at RESI

Fairbanks is honored to have been selected for the 2019 RESI Pitch Challenge at the RESI Boston First Coast Innovators’ Gathering. Fairbanks will pitch before a panel of 5 investors on September 11 at the Westin Copley Place in Boston.

CEO Alan Schneyer said, “We are looking forward to this fantastic opportunity to convey the value of the novel diabetes therapy being developed by Fairbanks. Please join us for the pitch and meet us at RESI!”

Fairbanks Continues to Grow

Fairbanks employees in the laboratory in Springfield: From left, Nolan Meyer, Alden Richter, Alexa Lopez, with CEO Alan Schneyer

Fairbanks welcomes its newest employee Alden Richter to our growing company.  Alden is currently a Massachusetts Life Science Center intern and just finished his Master’s Degree Program in Applied Molecular Biology at University of Massachusetts – Amherst.  His project for the Master’s program was focused on cloning and expressing canine FSTL3 and he is continuing that work as an intern at Fairbanks.  He is also using his biotechnology skills to express recombinant versions of our top candidate antibody therapies.

Alden completed his undergraduate degree in Microbiology at University of Massachusetts – Amherst in May 2018.  Prior to entering college, Alden served in the US Army as a combat engineer including a tour in Afghanistan.

The addition of Alden will allow us to expand our research and development of diabetes therapies to include companion animal diabetes treatments.  Cloning dog and cat FSTL3 and expressing protein is the first step in the process and we are excited to have Alden’s expertise which will accelerate progress on this project.

Fairbanks at BIO 2019

Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals at BIO 2019 Innovation Zone

CEO Alan Schneyer and COO Elissa Brown were busy today working the Innovation Zone at BIO 2019 in Philadelphia, meeting with potential partners and working to raise investment for future development of their technologies.

Fairbanks was able to display in the Innovation Zone because the company was awarded an SBIR grant in 2018. As BIO describes it, the Zone enables “Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funded early-stage biotech companies to showcase their cutting-edge technologies, form long-term partnerships, and begin to raise funds in the private sector.” 

Entrepreneurism as a Science PhD Career Choice

There was a time when graduate students entering life science PhD programs set their career goals on an academic research position at a university, a view consistent with the most common advice from mentors and advisors.  However, over the past 20 years or so, the number of such jobs has fallen far short of newly minted PhD’s. A recent article in Science reported that the number of new PhD’s entering the private sector was equal to those entering academia for the first time last year.  Meanwhile the number of tenure track positions held by PhD’s dropped 10% since 1997 to 23%.  All of this leaves mentors pondering what advice to give to new students regarding their most likely career choices as well as what is the proper number of students to accept into PhD programs given these career realities.

My experience starting Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals in 2014, after a long career in academic research, has shown me that another increasingly attractive career choice, for both new and old PhD’s, is to take an entrepreneurial approach to scientific research.  While this necessitates focusing on research leading directly to commercially viable products, it is just as rewarding in terms of contributing to overall human health as the more abstract biomedical research found in academia.  And, as an added bonus, it is increases the probability that research discoveries become  new treatments for patients since it facilitates transfer of academic research discoveries into commercially viable therapeutic opportunities.

To advance this idea, the Endocrine Society, at my urging, held a discussion event at their 2018 annual meeting that was attended by more than thirty members, whose interests included promoting an “entrepreneurial” track and programming at the annual meeting, with the goal of helping members achieve their entrepreneurial goals.  This interest led Endo to hold a symposium at the 2019 meeting in March in which three entrepreneurs at different stages of development described their experience, including my experience with Fairbanks.  This presentation described how one might get started by using financing from the SBIR program at NIH.  

This success has led to suggestions that the Endocrine Society test new programming at next year’s meeting in San Francisco focused specifically on entrepreneurs. Potential ideas have included a pitch competition (similar to ABC’s “Shark Tank”), a networking session with potential partners inside and outside of pharma, SBIR grant proposal training, and practicing how to speak with potential investors.  Stay tuned or check with ENDO2020 in the fall of 2019 to see what programming is actually planned, and if your research is in an endocrine field, apply to participate in the competition. If this new programming is successful it might foster other professional societies to help their members enter this career track.

Fairbanks in Washington for FASEB Capitol Hill Day

Fairbanks CEO Alan Schneyer (left), Shoumita Dasgupta from Boston University, and David Burgess from Boston College before meeting with office of Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03)

I founded Fairbanks Pharmaceuticals to develop potential novel diabetes therapies based on my National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research over a period of 35 years. Fairbanks is currently funded by a Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases (NIDDK) at NIH. 

NIH is the most important agency of the federal government dedicated to funding biomedical research that leads to better health for Americans.  Since this research is often lengthy and labor intensive, consistent funding that keeps up with inflation is essential for a vibrant research effort that maximizes the benefit of NIH-funded research. 

On March 5th, 2019, I joined two other Massachusetts-based biomedical researchers to visit our congressional representatives as part of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)’s Capitol Hill Day to discuss how critical this funding is for health.

We first met with staff from Representatives Joe Kennedy and Katherine Clark, who were already familiar with, and big supporters of both the NIH and National Science Foundation (NSF).  In our meetings we discussed funding increases for NIH and NSF and the specific opportunities and needs based on FASEB analysis.

We also visited the office of Representative Lori Trahan, whose district includes Concord, MA, where Fairbanks is located. Meeting with her staff members we explained our request that Representative Trahan support the recommended budget increases for NIH and NSF. I mentioned that our SBIR grant has helped us create three jobs in Massachusetts while allowing us to further evaluate our diabetes therapy.  We were assured of strong support from the entire Massachusetts House delegation. 

Our final visits were with staff from the offices of Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren..  At each office we found the same unwavering support for biomedical and basic science research funded by both NIH and NSF.  We were impressed by and appreciative of the expertise on biomedical topics and specifically diseases like diabetes displayed by the staff we met. They were also sympathetic to the need for the continued level support necessary to attract the next generation of scientists into research as well as to continue progress on longer term research efforts.

The opportunity to speak with the  Massachusetts delegation about the benefits of biomedical research was both enjoyable and productive. I look forward to continuing this discussion in the home districts over the coming year.