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Relay: An App for Finding the Next Top Scientists and Discoveries

Xconomy Boston — 

[Clarification. 11:07 AM Eastern time. 01/04/11. See editor’s note.] For every superstar scientist like MIT professor Bob Langer or his colleague and Nobel laureate Phillip Sharp, there are many lab researchers who are seeking their first big commercial success with their work. Three former Tufts University researchers have created a search and analytics engine that could level the playing field a bit.

Dave Greenwald says he was working on his doctorate in genetics at Tufts University about three years ago when he and his friend, Brigham Hyde, decided it was time to bridge the gap between industry and scientific discoveries. “We were two basic science researchers who had been in the lab at the bench and were frustrated with the translatability of early stage biomedical discoveries to biotech and biopharma [companies],” Greenwald says.

Greenwald and Hyde formed Relay Technology Management in 2008, and the following year they added Tufts-trained computer scientist Rachel Lomasky as the startup’s chief technology officer. (Lomasky has since finished her doctorate and has lots of expertise in machine learning). The startup is poised to launch its first application for biotech business development groups early this year, says Greenwald, the firm’s CEO. He recently met with me at the Boston office of the business plan competition Mass Challenge, where his firm has received donated working space along with a bunch of other hungry startups. [Editor’s note: The original version of this story said that Hyde “has done work toward a doctorate in pharmacology” at Tufts. To be clear, he has in fact completed his Ph.D.]

Take notice of Relay’s technology if you spend lots of time searching through government databases and academic journals for a scientist to lead your firm’s research or a compound to license. I know I’ve spent some hours checking on some of the sources that Relay automatically monitors such as ClinicalTrials.gov and PubMed. (I tried to finagle free access to the software, purely for reporting this story, but what I got instead from Greenwald was this YouTube video.)

“What we can do is say, “Yeah, you know about the Bob Langers of the world, but who’s at the university right outside of Boston, who’s on the upswing, just got a grant, and had a patent issued. Who are the hidden gems in the field?” Greenwald says.

Relay has proprietary algorithms that rate scientific discoveries based on multiple measurements. An anti-cancer molecule, for example, can score highly if it has strong … Next Page »

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  • Actually, there is exactly this application. Its called iAMscientist and has been running for about a year. They have top groups in science technology and medicine and an application that allows interested organizations to connect to the relevant scientists. Visit them at http://www.iamscientist.com/opportunities

  • I saw Relay Technology Management upclose at MassChallenge, and they are onto something. It’s logical that they can crawl, automate, and reorganize the many sources of data to make a compelling value proposition for drug companies. But after establishing a drug research beachhead, there is an even better market to become the Bloomberg or Angelsoft one-stop news source for all invention coming out of universities’ Tech Transfer Office. Great concept, terrific team.