Entrepreneurial Fellows

Updated: October 12, 2021


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 a network composed of the Chicago biomedical community.

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 encourage people of color and women 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 MS, PhD, MD, or MD/PhD recipients or will have recently completed an initial post doc 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 bioentrepreneurship 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.
  • Work with faculty members on projects with translational potential. 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.
  • Interact with Deerfield Management funded projects through Lakeside Discovery (NU) and West Loop Innovations (UIC) to accelerate the translation of transformative biomedical technologies.
  • Coordinate intellectual property review of projects with Tech Transfer staff and Office of Sponsored Research to generate reports on patent status and potential encumbrances.
  • 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 MS, PhD, MD, or MD/PhD recipient or recently completed an initial post doc 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.

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What you get:
  • Highly competitive salary 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 are renewable for an additional 12 months by mutual agreement
  • 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:

Completed applications must be submitted online using the link below:
▸ CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows Application Submission Form

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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:
  • Mid to late January 2022

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When does the CBC begin accepting applications? >

The application portal will open on October 15th and close November 17th @ 5PM.
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 Spring/Summer timeframe. Should I apply now? >

If you are All But Dissertation (ABD) and you can start working by February 2022, then yes. But, because the appointment will begin in mid-late January 2022, we advise waiting until a future round to apply. At this time, we do not know when future applications will be accepted yearly or twice yearly.
If I am hired, when will I start? >

Fellows will start in early 2022.
What is the duration of the fellowship? >

Appointments are for 12 months but are renewable for an additional 12 months by mutual agreement.
What about visa status? >

We are still sorting this out, but most likely, we will only accept applications from those in F-1 status who will be able to obtain work authorization via Optional Practical Training that will be valid for the duration of the program or those if J-1 student status who will be able to obtain work authorization via Academic Training that will be valid for the duration of the program. We will also accept those who are currently in the J-1 Research Scholar status and can join our program via a J-1 SEVIS transfer. Once you are accepted, we will work with you to find the best option.
Can undergrads apply for this position? >

No, undergrads are not eligible for the EF role. Applicants will be MS, PhD, MD, or MD/PhD recipients or will have recently completed an initial post doc.
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.
How many projects will the Fellows work on at one time? >

We anticipate that the Fellows will be working as a team of two. Right now, we are estimating that each team will be working on two projects for about a 6–8-week time period however this may be adjusted as we gauge the workflow.
Will the Fellows be working at only one of the CBC universities (UIC, Northwestern, UChicago)? >

Fellows will be working on projects that have therapeutic and commercial potential at all three CBC institutions, NU, UIC and UChicago.
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.

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 November. 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 in December. 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 mid to late January.
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)

Download FAQs

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Questions about the CBC EF program or application process, should be directed to Nancy Tyrrell at nancy.tyrrell@northwestern.edu or Michelle Hoffmann at michelle.hoffmann@northwestern.edu.

Questions about the webform should be directed to ckitch1@uic.edu

Updated: October 12, 2021
If you have questions, please contact:

Michelle Hoffmann CBC Executive Director michelle.hoffmann@northwestern.edu
Nancy Tyrrell CBC Associate Director for Translational Activities Nancy.tyrrell@northwestern.edu
Karen Snapp CBC Senior Associate Director ksnapp@northwestern.edu
Luisa DiPietro CBC Scientific Director for UIC ldipiet@uic.edu
Lucy Godley CBC Scientific Director for UChicago lgodley@medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu
Rick Morimoto CBC Scientific Director for NU r-morimoto@northwestern.edu

See more:

▸ Entrepreneurial Fellows RFA
▸ Funded Entrepreneurial Fellows