Success Story

November 11, 2017

CBC researchers’ start-up raises $11 million. Spotlight on Northwestern University’s Chad Mirkin and Shad Thaxton.

Congratulations to Chad Mirkin and Shad Thaxton (NU) who are featured in Crain’s Business Chicago! Mirkin and Thaxton are co-founders of a Northwestern University biotech spinout company, Exicure, that has just received a huge boost of over $11 million from a Chinese pharmaceutical company, bringing their total fundraising to $31.5 million in the past two months. Both researchers have received CBC support in the past: Chad is a co-recipient of a CBC Lever Award (2010) and Shad and his postdoc, Linda Foit, received a CBC Postdoctoral Research Award (2014). Mirkin and Thaxton are great examples of the translational potential in the Chicago community. With the CBC Phase 2 mission focused on such translation, it is rewarding to see the progress of companies like Exicure.

Northwestern spinout gets another $11 million

Crain’s Chicago Business   |   By John Pletz   |   November 8, 2017

Chad Mirkin, PhD

Chad Mirkin, PhD
Northwestern University

A Northwestern University biotech spinout got another boost, raising $11.2 million, led by a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

Exicure, which is developing gene-regulating therapies for inflammation, cancer and other diseases, has raised $31.5 million in the past two months. The company raised $20 million from private investors in September. The most recent investment was led by Luye Pharma Group, a Chinese drugmaker.

Now based in Skokie, Exicure was founded in 2011 as AuraSense Therapeutics by Northwestern nanotech researchers Chad Mirkin and Shad Thaxton. It previously raised $42 million from investors including Bill Gates, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Aon founder Pat Ryan and Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky.

The company employs about 25 people. CEO David Giljohann says Exicure will use the funding to continue clinical development of its treatments.


Adapted (with modifications) from Crain’s Chicago Business, posted by John Pletz on November 8, 2017.

See more:

CBC Awards:

CBC Lever Award (2010):
PIs: Chad Mirkin and Milan Mrksich (NU), David Eddington (UIC) and Joel Collier (UChicago) for project:
▸ Nanomaterials for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics

CBC Postdoctoral Research Award (2014):
PIs: Linda Foit and Colby Shad Thaxton (NU) for the project:
▸ Biomimetic, intrinsically therapeutic nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery in cancer