Innovating Predictive Cardiac Physiology.
For better health and longer life.
Innovating Predictive Cardiac Physiology.
TARA is dedicated to pioneering predictive cardiac tissue models that enable faster, safer, and more reliable development of new medicines. Safer and more effective new medicines that rapidly make it to market means better health and longer life, and we believe that’s great for people everywhere.
BiowireTM II: The Next Generation In Vitro Human Cardiac Model
Currently, new medicine development requires substantial time and capital, and yet medicines face frequent withdrawal from the market due to cardiovascular complications. Cell culture and animal testing models are unable to adequately predict drug effects seen in patients.
TARA’s innovative platform represents a leap forward
TARA uses stem cells to produce heart cells.
TARA’s Biowire platform stimulates the heart cells to make mature heart tissues.
The TARA tissues mimic adult heart muscles so that realistic changes in human cardiac function can be measured without human testing.
TARA can measure the key function of the heart to understand changes in the rate of heartbeat, the calcium handling governing the heartbeat and the force of the heartbeat.
TARA is focused on three critical areas.
TARA’s predictive tissue-based cardiac model behaves like a human heart muscle so when it is employed in drug testing it can reliably identify cardiovascular complications where cell culture and animal testing models cannot, leading to a faster, safer, and less costly development process.
Heart failure remains the leading cause of death. TARA’s platform can generate accurate diseased tissue from stem cells, allowing for reliable testing of medicines created to address specificheart issues.
Every person is different and each person’s biology contains information particular only to them. Because of this, TARA’s platform can be used to create custom cardiac models tailored to a single person, allowing for personalized health and treatment.
Our expert team are world leaders
in cardiac tissue engineering and physiology.
Misti Ushio Ph.D.
Misti Ushio, PhD. is the founding CEO of TARA. Dr. Ushio has over 20 years of experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, and early stage life science company building. Dr. Ushio has served most recently as Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director of Harris & Harris Group, where she worked with, and invested in, life science companies to help them translate their transformational science into commercially successful companies.
Earlier in her career, Dr. Ushio held management roles at Merck & Company, where she developed vaccines and biologics products, and Columbia University, where she managed the intellectual property of several scientific and engineering portfolios.
She graduated from Johns Hopkins University (B.S., Chemical Engineering), Lehigh University (M.S., Chemical Engineering) and University College London (Ph.D., Biochemical Engineering). She also serves as a Director on the Boards of private and public life science companies.
Milica Radisic, Ph.D.
Dr. Milica Radisic is a co-founder of TARA. She is a Professor at the University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Functional Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering. She obtained B.Eng. from McMaster University in 1999, and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004, both in Chemical Engineering. Dr. Radisic received numerous awards and fellowships, including MIT Technology Review Top 35 Innovators under 35. In 2010, she was named “The One to Watch” by the Scientist and the Toronto Star. She was a recipient of the Engineers Canada Young Engineer Achievement Award in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 and NSERC E.W.R Steacie Fellowship in 2014. In 2014 she was elected to the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. The long-term objective of Dr. Radisic’s research is to enable cardiovascular regeneration through tissue engineering and development of new biomaterials. Her research interests also include microfluidic cell separation and development of in vitro models for drug testing. Currently, Dr. Radisic holds research funding from CIHR, NSERC, CFI, ORF, NIH, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. She is an Associate Editor for ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering and a member of Editorial Board of Tissue Engineering and Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. Her research findings were presented in over 130 research papers, reviews and book chapters with h-index of 44 and over 6500 citations.
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D.
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic is a founder of TARA, and serving on the Board of Directors. She obtained her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Belgrade in Serbia, and was a Fulbright Fellow at MIT. She is the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering, a Professor of Medical Sciences at Columbia University, and a faculty in the Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Human Development. She directs the Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and serves on the Columbia University President’s Task Force for Precision Medicine.
The focus of her research is on engineering functional human tissues for regenerative medicine and studies of development and disease. She is well published (3 books, 346 journal articles) and highly cited (31,500 citations, h=101). She has 75 licensed, issued or pending patents and has founded two other biotech companies: epiBone (http://epibone.com) and MatriTek (http://matritek.com).
Among her many recognitions, Gordana is the Chair of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and was elected to the Academia Europaea, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Medicine, and National Academy of Inventors.
Robert Langer, Ph.D.
Robert Langer is an Institute Professor at MIT (there are 13 Institute Professors at MIT; being an Institute Professor is the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member).Over 300 of his trainees are now professors, 13 have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and 9 have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, and 34 to the Technology Review 35. His h-index of 222 is the highest of any engineer in history and he has over 1,100 issued and pending patents worldwide. His patents have licensed or sublicensed to over 300 companies. He served as Chairman of the FDA’s SCIENCE BOARD (it’s highest advisory board) from 1999-2002. Langer is also one of very few individuals ever elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. He is one of four living individuals to have received both the United States National Medal of Science and the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In 2015, Dr. Langer received the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the world’s largest engineering prize. He has also received the Charles Stark Draper Prize (sometimes referred to as the engineering Nobel Prize), the Albany Medical Center Prize, the Wolf Prize for Chemistry, the Millennium Technology Prize, the Priestley Medal (highest award of the American Chemical Society), the Gairdner Prize, the Kyoto Prize, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Lemelson-MIT Prize, for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.” He holds 27 honorary doctorates including honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale.
Doug Jamison is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Harris & Harris Group, Inc., a publicly traded venture capital company listed on the Nasdaq Global Market (NASDAQ: TINY). Harris & Harris Group builds transformative companies enabled by disruptive science.
He has previously held the positions of President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Harris & Harris Group, Inc. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of HZO, Inc., ProMuc, Inc., and Interome, Inc., as well as a member of the Board of Directors of AgTech Accelerator Corporation, ORIG3N, Inc., and TARA Biosystems, Inc., privately held portfolio companies of Harris & Harris Group. He was responsible for Harris & Harris Group’s investment in Solazyme, Inc. (Nasdaq: SZYM), prior to its initial public offering in May of 2011, Molecular Imprints, Inc., prior to its sale to Canon, NanoGram Devices, Inc., prior to its sale to Wilson Greatbatch, and Innovalight, Inc., prior to its acquisition by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company.
He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of “Nanotechnology Law & Business.” He was a member of the National Nanotechnology Initiative National Academy of Science Review Committee in 2015. He was a member of the University of Pennsylvania Nano-Bio Interface Ethics Advisory Board. Prior to joining Harris & Harris Group, he was a Senior Technology Manager at the University of Utah Technology Transfer Office, where he managed intellectual property in physics, chemistry and the engineering sciences. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College (B.A., 1992) and the University of Utah (M.S., 1999).
Nicole Feric, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Nicole Feric is a Senior Research Scientist at TARA, Inc. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Milica Radisic at the University of Toronto where she helped develop the BiowireTM cardiac tissue maturation protocol and platform technology.
She obtained her B.Sc. (Honours, Biochemistry) and Ph.D. (Biochemistry) from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. There she began her cardiovascular research career in the laboratory of Dr. Marlys Koschinsky investigating the prothrombotic effect of lipoprotein(a), a coronary heart disease risk factor, on the plasminogen activation system.
Kacey Ronaldson, Ph.D.
Kacey Ronaldson, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist and co-founder of TARA. Dr. Ronaldson has spent the previous 6 years developing various microphysiological systems for organ-on-a-chip studies of human toxicity and disease modeling.
Dr. Ronaldson’s doctoral studies primarily focused on the development of cardiac microphysiological systems with mature functionality. This work led to four published papers and four pending patent applications.
She was graduated from the University of Florida (B.S., Biochemistry), and Columbia University (M.S., Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering). She was President of the Graduate Society of Women Engineers and continues to support initiatives that mentor young women to pursue STEM related fields.
Rooz Sobbi, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Rooz Sobbi, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist at TARA. Rooz has extensive experience in cardiac electrophysiology and has spent the last 10 years studying ion channels and structural changes in the heart as a result of arrhythmias.
Rooz holds a B.Sc. in Cellular and Molecular microbiology from University of Calgary and a PhD in Physiology from University of Calgary Medical School.
Boyang Zhang, Ph.D.
Boyang Zhang is a co-founder of TARA and a postdoctoral fellow at University of Toronto, Canada. At TARA, Dr. Zhang is developing the manufacturing process of BiowireTM plates. Dr. Zhang obtained his B.Eng. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2010, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry from University of Toronto in 2016.
In 2016 Dr. Zhang was named MedTech’s Rising Star by Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry (MD+DI). In 2013, University of Toronto named Dr. Zhang inventor of the year for his collaborative work on a skin bioprinter. Dr. Zhang’s research interests are tissue vascularization, tissue assembly and organ-on-a-chip engineering. He utilizes microfabrication techniques in combination with biomaterials to build complex tissue models in vitro for drug discovery and regenerative medicine. His research on AngioChip, published as a cover article in Nature Materials, was featured in the Toronto Star and on The National on CBC in 2016. He has published over 20 research papers with H-index of 10 and has 3 patents pending.
Yimu Zhao is a 4th year Ph.D. Candidate in the laboratory of Dr. Milica Radisic at University of Toronto. Her Ph.D. thesis is to develop BiowireTM II drug testing platform (TC dish version and 96-well version) that is designed to 1) be minimally drug absorbable, 2) mature engineered cardiac tissues and 3) accurately evaluate inotropic and chronotropic responses of tissues with drugs. She is one of the inventors of TARA’s BiowireTM platform technology (Patent) and contributes significantly on tissue conditioning, maturation and drug screening optimization for platform development. She is one of the co-founders of TARA.
She obtained her B.A.Sc. (Chemical Engineering) from University of Western Ontario and M.A.Sc. (Chemical Engineering) from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada. There she worked on stem cell technology in the laboratory of Dr. Lauren Flynn and Dr. Stephen Waldman for multi-lineage differentiation and application of adipose derived stem cells.
For more information please use the contact information below. If you would like to request a study with TARA, please fill out and submit the form on the right.