Entrepreneurial Fellows

Updated: May 11, 2024
The Entrepreneurial Fellows (EF) Award Application Submission portal is currently CLOSED.
The deadline to apply was Friday, May 10, 2024!

The CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows (EF) Award program identifies and supports the professional development of junior life sciences researchers who are keen to develop the skills and experiences needed to move translational projects from a university lab toward commercialization and potentially into a Chicago-based biotech start-up. The program exposes Fellows to a breadth of real-world experiences across the CBC institutions and connects trainees to the Chicago biomedical community.

*Please note: The EF program is not a postdoc position and does not offer bench work opportunities.

Meet the CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows HERE!

The CBC and the Entrepreneurial Fellows program is on a mission to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive biotechnology and life sciences community for all and we especially welcome women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities to apply. We are developing our interview process and program to ensure that all feel welcomed and included.

The Entrepreneurial Fellowship

What it is I What you will do I What you need I What you get I What you will send in
How to get it to us I How we choose I When you start I FAQs


What it is:

CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows will:

  • Be recent recipients of a PhD, MD, PharmD/PhD, MD/PhD, or MS with extensive research experience and/or a thesis, or will have recently completed an initial postdoc in the biomedical sciences (no more than 4 years from terminal degree conferral),
  • Have a strong interest and passion for driving innovative and transformational biomedical research from the university toward clinical and ultimately commercial applications,
  • Be exposed to fundamentals of early-stage drug development and the business of biotech,
  • Support the identification and program management of research programs at NU, UIC and UChicago that have therapeutic and commercial potential,
  • Have an active and central role in the development, refinement and implementation of CBC funded awards focused on translational research including:
    • The development and refinement of proposals from university faculty,
    • The collection and assessment of data supporting the unmet medical need and commercial opportunity of the proposed therapeutic or diagnostic,
    • The development of work plan which advances the science toward pre-clinical proof-of-concept while assessing and addressing drug discovery/development risks.

The CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows will gain a network by:

  • Working with the CBC Executive Director and Associate Director of Entrepreneurship,
  • Partnering with our member institution tech transfer and entrepreneurship offices: (1) NU Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) (2) UIC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Office of Technology Management (OTM) (3) UChicago Polsky Center,
  • Integrating with members of the EF Advisory Board and industry mentors,
  • Working with university faculty and experts in the greater Chicago bio-entrepreneurship community.

The Fellows will participate in CBC-sponsored events such as CBCAN (CBC Accelerator Network), CBC scientific symposia and workshops, and CBC Award review sessions. Fellows will actively engage with each other to share learnings and experiences, and to explore opportunities for synergistic collaborations in areas of common interest.

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What you will do:
  • Work with CBC university investigators in preparing proposals with translational potential to CBC Award programs and other funding organizations.
  • The fellows will be exposed to all aspects of drug discovery and early development including:
    • Development of investment thesis and competitive positioning,
    • Development of robust project plans, timelines, project budgets and resource allocations, generate project mitigation plans, competitive landscapes analysis, clinical strategies and regulatory strategy.
  • Work with project team members to ensure the project plan incorporates all necessary regulatory requirements for documentation for drug safety, toxicology and manufacturing of clinical candidates.
  • Cultivate a drug discovery culture at the CBC universities and beyond by participating actively in CBC-sponsored events, symposia, workshops and review panels.

Forming interactions/meetings between Fellows to provide overviews of current projects, sharing knowledge and discussing ways to move translational projects forward.

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What you need:
  • Recent recipient of a PhD, MD, PharmD/PhD, MD/PhD, or MS with extensive research experience and/or a thesis, or recently completed an initial postdoc in the biomedical sciences (biology, molecular biology, biophysics, chemistry, chemical biology or related fields) with a strong interest and passion for driving innovative and transformational biomedical research from the university lab toward clinical and ultimately commercial applications.
  • A broad interest in translational research, with a primary focus on development of therapeutics or associated diagnostics and biomarkers.
  • Prior exposure to contemporary drug discovery/development is desirable, but a profound interest in furthering this exposure is essential.
  • Strong verbal and written communication, along with outstanding analytical skills are critical.
  • Detail oriented with strong organization and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work independently and on a self-directed basis, but also as a high-functioning member of a team.
  • Have an existing temporary visa or be U.S. citizens or permanent residents at the time of the application.

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What you get:
  • Salary of $85K with fringe benefits
  • Funds are available for travel associated with program responsibilities
  • Office space will be provided and shared with additional EFs
  • Appointments are for 12 months but can be renewed for an additional 12 months
  • A bird’s eye view of the pipeline of early-stage biomedical applications
  • An unparalleled network of peers and mentors in the bio-entrepreneurship space

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What you will send in:
  • Cover Letter (no more than (2) pages) which should include an answer to the questions: (1) why biotech/ bio-entrepreneurship, (2) why Chicagoland, (3) how the EF program will help your future career goals, 4) Thesis project and name of faculty advisor. We encourage applicants to use insights from your own journey and graduate career. As applicable, please refer to specific, recent advances in the biotech commercial space that you consider exciting. Include your graduation date or anticipated graduation date as well as availability to begin Fellowship.
  • Curriculum Vitae.
  • Names, titles and contact information of three references to provide letters of recommendation

All materials listed above must be assembled into a single PDF document in the order listed. Name the PDF file with your last and first name (e.g. Last_First.pdf). Formatting of all documents should be in 11-point font, single spaced, 0.5-inch margins, and standard letter size (8.5” x 11”). Embedded figures are acceptable.

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How to get it to us:

The Entrepreneurial Fellows (EF) Award Application Submission portal is currently CLOSED.
The deadline to apply was Friday, May 10, 2024!

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How we choose:
  • Applications will be reviewed to build the most diverse, inclusive class that can be assembled.
  • After an initial round of screening, select candidates will be invited to interview with members of the selection committee.
  • These candidates will be asked to give a 15-20-minute presentation consisting of no more than 3 slides focused on any scientific project of the applicants’ choosing
    • Delivered in easy-to-understand lay language
    • Concluding with commercial potential or lack thereof (if the project has no commercial potential, be prepared to explain why not)

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When you start:
  • Expected start date is early September 2024.

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When does the CBC begin accepting applications? >

The application portal is scheduled to open at 9 AM on March 28, 2024.
Should I wait until the last minute to apply? >

No! Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION EARLY!
I am graduating in the Fall/Winter timeframe. Should I apply? >

To apply for our Fall cohort, you MUST be planning to defend your thesis by the end of August 2024. Otherwise, we advise waiting until we open the portal for Spring applications in 2025.
I am currently a postdoc, can I apply? >

We are accepting candidates with up to 4 years postdoctoral experience.
Will there be other cycles? >

Yes, we are opening the portal for EF applications annually.
If I am hired, when will I start? >

Fellows are anticipated to start in September 2024.
What is the duration of the fellowship? >

Appointments are for 12 months but can be renewed for an additional 12 months upon mutual agreement.
What about visa status? >

International applicants must have a valid US visa to apply. We will accept applications from those with F-1 status and who are able to obtain work authorization via Optional Practical Training that will be valid for the duration of the program. Applications from individuals with J-1 status will be reviewed case by case. At this time, the CBC is not able to sponsor new visas.
Can undergrads apply for this position? >

Only individuals that have graduated with PhD, MD, PharmD/PhD or MD/PhD or will have recently completed an initial postdoc can matriculate into the program. MS candidates with extensive research experience will also be considered.
Do I need to come in with a company idea? >

No, you will be learning by helping faculty develop their ideas.
Will the Fellow be pursuing their own research or faculty members’ research? >

Fellows will be working with faculty members at UIC, Northwestern and UChicago to advance the faculty members’ projects with therapeutic and commercial potential to move from the lab toward the patient.
Where will EFs be working from? >

Fellows will work across a variety of locations in Chicago, including but not limited to CBC member institutions, local life science incubators, and collaborative spaces, as well as remotely (~2 days/week). Fellows will be working on multiple projects that have therapeutic and commercial potential across all CBC institutions.
What else is needed for the application? >

Applications are simple. Provide us with a two-page cover letter answering (1) why Chicago (2) why bio-entrepreneurship (3) how this will further your professional goals, a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume and the names and contacts of three references.
What should the two-page cover letter include? >

  • Why Chicagoland?
  • Why bio-entrepreneurship?
  • How will this Fellowship further your professional goals?
Do I need to provide letters of reference with my application? >

No, you only need to provide the names of the three references when you submit your online application. Your reference will be asked to submit letters of recommendation after you have passed the first round of interviews.
If my application moves forward, what can I expect in terms of the process and timeline? >

  1. Phone Conversations with select candidates will take place in May. Phone interviews will be offered on a rolling basis so get applications in as soon as you can!
  2. Based on phone interviews, a select group will be asked to prepare a simple 3 slide talk. These candidates will make a 15-minute presentation via ZOOM, followed by 45 minutes of Q&A with the CBC Executive Director and others.
  3. Selected Entrepreneurial Fellows will be notified of the award and will begin work in September 2024.
What should the 15-minute slide presentation cover? >

The 3 slides should be focused on any scientific project of the applicants choosing

  • Delivered in easy-to-understand lay language
  • Concluding with commercial potential or lack thereof (if the project has no commercial potential, be prepared to explain why not)

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Questions about the CBC EF program or application process should be directed to:

Michelle Hoffmann Executive Director michelle.hoffmann@northwestern.edu
Elizabeth McMath Senior Director, New Program Innovation & Entrepreneurship elizabeth.mcmath@northwestern.edu
Eleonora Gatta Senior Associate Director New Program Innovation & Entrepreneurship eleonora.gatta@northwestern.edu
Corinna Kitcharoen
(Questions for Application Webform ONLY)
Associate Director of Events and Communication ckitch1@uic.edu

See more:

▸ Funded Entrepreneurial Fellows