Press Release

March 1, 2022

The Chicago Biomedical Consortium Names Inaugural Class of CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows

Program aims to inspire and coach promising local biomedical talent and support the growing life science industry in Chicagoland

Please see HERE for the Crain’s Chicago Business coverage!

Entrepreneurial Fellows 2022 Cohort

2022 Entrepreneurial Fellows (left to right) Karol Sokolowski, Schnaude Dorizan, Elan Ness-Cohn, Amanda Maldonado

CHICAGO, March 1, 2022 – The Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC), an organization accelerating biomedical discovery, development and commercialization across the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, has announced the inaugural class of the CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows (CBC-EFs) program. The CBC-EF program inspires, identifies, and coaches an inclusive cohort of the next generation of Chicago’s bio-entrepreneurs in order to commercialize promising scientific discoveries innovated at Chicago’s premier research institutions.

Chicago is an emerging tech hub, with more than 20 ‘unicorns’ – many of them minted in 2021, and has a rich deep technology ecosystem with strengths in transportation and logistics, food and agriculture, data and analytics; and especially life sciences and healthcare where biomedical and biotech jobs doubled between 2010 and 2020.

“As a former Chicago founder who built a deep tech startup with local university partners, this is an incredible opportunity for our biotech ecosystem,” said Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development for the Chicago Mayor’s Office. “Mayor Lightfoot and City Hall remains deeply committed to fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs through the CBC, which is critical for the long-term growth of Chicago’s robust life science ecosystem.”

With three R1 universities – or universities classified by the Carnegie Institute with high research activity, two national labs, and almost half a billion dollars in 2021 1 biotechnology venture funding, Chicago’s life sciences ecosystem is geographically, academically, and demographically diverse. This rich diversity has generated current and planned commercial lab spaces in the West Loop (Including Fulton Labs and Portal Innovations), Lincoln Yards , Northwestern’s backyard in Evanston, the Illinois MedicalDistrict, and at Rosalind Franklin University.

The inaugural CBC-EF cohort will be trained to navigate this complex and interconnected ecosystem. Each of the four candidates selected for the inaugural class will receive a full-time, paid fellowship and will be guided by venture capitalists, biotech executives, strategic business development professionals, and senior scientists to experientially learn to advance commercially promising research projects sourced from the three member universities. The best of these projects will receive up to $250,000 in CBC funding to advance the science.

“We’ll see new life sciences startups come to life through this collaboration and mentorship among the CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows, professors at Chicago’s tier-one research institutions, and young scientists researching and developing new biotechnologies in the lab,” said Brad Henderson, CEO of P33, whose organization is partnering with Chicago Biomedical Consortium to develop an inclusive CBC-EF program representative of Chicagoland’s diverse tech ecosystem.

“Today Chicago is a recognized biosciences research hub in light of the acceleration we are experiencing in healthcare innovation and life sciences,” said Michael Fassnacht, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, and Chief Marketing Officer for the City of Chicago. “With up to 5 million square feet of lab space in Chicago under construction, or in the pipeline, efforts like the CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows, foster solid and formidable pathways for up-and-coming scientists and researchers to contribute in impactful and meaningful ways to the growing life sciences ecosystem.”

Each of the 2022 CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows were selected to be part of an intellectually and demographically diverse team, where each team member shares the mission of building Chicago’s biotech hub and turning life sciences research into biomedical applications. This inaugural cohort includes:

  • Elan Ness-Cohn, who possesses a unique ability to bridge AI and ML with biology having conducted extensive “wet lab” work as an undergraduate at MIT and identified genes that are under Circadian control in his thesis work. Returning to Chicago after earning his undergraduate degree, Ness-Cohn completed his thesis in Rosemary Braun’s lab and as part of the Northwestern Center for Quantitative Biology centered on the biology of circadian rhythms. He communicates about biology and AI in his blog “The Data Byte”.
  • Schnaude Dorizan, an accomplished neuroscientist completing her thesis in the lab of Mitra Hartmann at Northwestern, is using new methods to measure how animals perceive their environment, learn, and remember. A phenomenal communicator who shares her love of science with undergraduate mentees, Dorizan has championed diversity and equity on the Northwestern campus, serving as student representative on the NUIN Student Advisory Council and as president of the Black Graduate Student Association, efforts that helped her earn the
    McBride Student Award.
  • Amanda Maldonado who plans to use her Fellowship training to expand commercialization of treatments for women’s reproductive diseases. Completing a thesis in the lab of Dr. Joanna Burdette at the University of Illinois Chicago, Maldonado is the recipient of an NIH-backed grant referred to as T32 and on the executive board of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Graduate Chapter since 2018.
  • Karol Sokolowski, a Chicago native, who worked on novel antibiotic delivery, completing his thesis in the lab of Richard A. Gemeinhart at the University of Illinois Chicago, where he was a recipient of the Reed Henninger award. In the future, Sokolowski intends to make valuable contributions to further Chicago’s biotech ecosystem, as well as support science students in the Chicago Public Schools, where he was educated before attending the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

“We look forward to working with these incredible students and we are excited that they will be developing skills as they help our own professors develop their most promising technology,” said Michelle Hoffmann, PhD Executive Director of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium.

The CBC Entrepreneurial Fellows are supported by a network of external partners, including: P33, who will help source diverse bio-entrepreneurs and then support them by integrating them into their diverse founder initiatives like TechRise, and Back Bay Life Science Advisors, whose expert strategic advisors will provide diligence, investment advice and opportunities and market research and analysis. The program is championed by World Business Chicago, the city’s public-private development agency which is making strides to develop Chicago’s biotech infrastructure and companies.

About Chicago Biomedical Consortium
The mission of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC) is to stimulate collaboration among scientists at Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago and others to accelerate discovery that will transform biomedical research and improve the health of humankind.

The CBC was launched in 2006 with a generous annual grant award from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust. To date, more than $71 million has been invested into CBC initiatives to promote Chicago’s biomedical community resulting in more than 358 awards granted, over 2,650 research papers published, six national research centers established and $856 million dedicated to research funding.

Learn more about the CBC at

About P33
P33 is a privately funded non-profit focused on driving inclusive, global tech and innovation leadership for Chicagoland. P33’s work is anchored in deep research and driven by a need to unlock the potential of the digital age to solve some of the toughest problems facing Chicago, such as equitable access to digital careers, talent retention, deep science commercialization and gaps in our growth stage startup ecosystem. Officially launched in 2019, P33 is co-chaired by Penny Pritzker, former Secretary of Commerce and founder and chairman of PSP Partners; Chris Gladwin, CEO and Cofounder of Ocient and Cleversafe; and Kelly Welsh, President of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago.

About Back Bay Life Sciences Advisors
Back Bay Life Science Advisors provides life science strategy and investment banking guidance and execution to global life science companies and their investors.

Back Bay Life Science Advisors partners with companies of all sizes throughout the US and global life science markets across every stage, sector, geography, and therapeutic area. Back Bay strategy and banking teams guide companies on technology and drug development, from planning and initial concept to product commercialization, franchising and licensing, partnering, M&A, divestiture, and more.

With offices in Boston, Toronto, and Germany, Back Bay teams are MDs, PhDs, science and banking experts with proven knowledge and love for new technologies, medicines, and scientific approaches.

View highlights from our portfolio of life science transactions and projects and connect with us at


Adapted (with modifications) from Crains’s Chicago Business, originally posted on March 1, 2022, by Katherine Davis.