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Boston startup Emulate names new CEO, announces new funding

The company makes ‘organs on chips’ that can be used to test medicine, food, and cosmetics outside of the body.

An Emulate organ-chip.
An Emulate organ-chip.Emulate, Inc.

A Boston startup known for its plastic chips that simulate human organs on Thursday announced the appointment of a new CEO as it ramps up its commercial portfolio with new funding.

Jim Corbett will head Emulate Inc., which makes “organs on chips” systems that mimic human cells to test medicine, food, and cosmetics outside of the human body. Corbett previously worked at Waltham-based PerkinElmer for 11 years, where he most recently served as executive vice president and president of discovery and analytical solutions.

“He has an ideal set of skills for growing our commercial efforts and really helping us lead the company toward having a tremendous impact on the biomedical industry and human health,” Geraldine Hamilton, president and chief scientific officer of Emulate, said in an interview.

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Corbett follows former CEO James Coon in what Hamilton said was a “natural transition” as the company focuses on commercial growth. Martin Madaus, the company’s interim CEO, will join the board as executive chairman.

These announcements come as the privately held company scales up its commercial product line, which launched in early 2019 with a liver chip system, but now includes kidney and intestine chip systems. The technology aims to replace the need for testing on animals or cells in petri dishes.

After one year of operating commercially, Hamilton said, the company is generating revenue.

Emulate also said on Thursday that its platform is now used by 150 organizations, including 10 of the top 25 global biopharmaceutical companies, the US Food and Drug Administration, and the Army.

The company signed early partnerships with drug giants Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and in 2018, Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Swiss-based F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG signed on. The company is not disclosing all of its partners.

Emulate also disclosed that it raised additional financing from existing investors, including Founders Fund — which also backed Facebook, SpaceX, and Airbnb — Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, NanoDimension, and ALSInvestment Fund. Emulate brought in new investors, too, including Northpond Ventures, which led the round, and Blue Ivy Ventures.

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The company did not disclose the amount of its latest funding round, but in summer 2018, Emulate announced a $36 million Series C led by Founders Fund. That round brought total funding to $93 million.

Despite its growing commercial arm, Emulate is working on developing more organ chips, including a brain chip, and is exploring projects that could target diseases such as COVID-19.

“There are still many aspects of this novel virus that are not understood, so the chips could potentially uncover new insights into the virus,” Hamilton said. “We are in the early stages of exploring how the technology could help.”

Emulate, which was spun out of Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, was founded in 2014 and has about 100 employees.


Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.