Arsenal Medical CTO Jeff Carbeck on His Secretive Startup, Attractions of Clean Energy Sector

5/14/09

Jeff Carbeck walked away from a promising career in academia four years ago to co-found Arsenal Medical, to apply advances in materials science to the healthcare market. Carbeck and I talked last week about his work at Watertown, MA-based Arsenal (originally named WMR Biomedical), which Xconomy reported last week raised $8.2 million in a third round of venture capital. In addition to the advances in biomaterials development at the firm, we discussed his recent award of a fellowship with the New England Clean Energy Council.

Carbeck, who is also chief scientist at Cambridge, MA-based nanotech research firm Nano-Terra, is not as recognized in the Boston area as some of his Arsenal co-founders, such as Harvard’s George Whitesides or MIT inventor Bob Langer. Still, Carbeck is very much on the leading edge of translating discoveries in material science for use in medical products, clean technology, and a variety of other disciplines. (Nano-Terra, in fact, is open to tackling R&D challenges in multiple industries except for life sciences.)

He’s also one of the top chemical engineers to come out of the Harvard lab of Whitesides, the chairman and initial inventor at Nano-Terra. (Whitesides’ other protégés include North Bridge Venture Partners general partner Carmichael Roberts and John Rogers, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.)

At Arsenal, Carbeck oversees development of biomedical devices in the fields of cardiology and ophthalmology. He guarded some of the fine details of the products under development, but he shed new light on some of the problems they hope to solve.

The startup is developing devices with materials that can treat arterial disease at the molecular and cellular level—rather than simply dealing with the problem mechanically with an arterial stent to prop open clogged arteries. It’s also studying materials that could deliver drugs to different regions of the eye. The company is exploring multiple other medical uses for proprietary materials at the firm, he says. Interestingly, Arsenal was not founded around a specific technology, yet subsequent to its launch has developed its own materials and gained rights to other technologies from Langer’s lab at MIT as well as research institutions not affiliated with the firm.

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