Innovating Predictive Cardiac Physiology.
For better health and longer life.

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Vision

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.

Platform

Biowire™ 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

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TARA produces heart tissue from stem cells.

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TARA’s Biowire platform stimulates the heart cells to make mature heart tissues.

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The TARA tissues mimic adult heart muscles so that realistic changes in human cardiac function can be measured without human testing.

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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.

Product
TARA Contractility Analysis
NEWS
April 9, 2018

TARA is a Fast Company 2018 World Changing Ideas Award Finalist

TARA has been featured as a finalist in Fast Company’s 2018 World Changing Ideas Awards, for our innovative BioWire II platform. The prestigious World Changing Ideas Awards honor concepts, designs, business models, products, and companies that inspire, innovate, and solve tough problems that improve personal and global well-being.

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April 5, 2018

TARA Scientific Co-Founders Grow Adult-Like Heart Tissue in Just Four Weeks

NEW YORK, (PR Newswire) – TARA Biosystems, Inc., a company offering physiologically relevant “heart-on-a-chip” tissue models for drug discovery and development applications, is pleased to announce the publication of a landmark cardiac tissue maturation study, in the preeminent scientific journal Nature, led by two of TARA’s scientific co-founders, Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, …

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March 15, 2018

TARA Presents at SOT Annual Meeting 2018

TARA presented a poster in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline at the 57th Society of Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting. At SOT, toxicologists from around the world meet to share the latest research and advancements in the field. 

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February 20, 2018

TARA Appoints John M. Baldoni, Ph.D., to its Board of Directors

NEW YORK, (Newswire.com) – TARA Biosystems, Inc., a company offering physiologically relevant “heart-on-a-chip” tissue models for drug discovery and development applications, announced today that it has appointed pharmaceutical industry innovation leader, John M. Baldoni, Ph.D. to its Board of Directors.

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January 22, 2018

TARA Featured in Fast Company

TARA has been featured in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas section. The article describes TARA’s technology and the impact it has on the speed and accuracy of drug development, as well as its potential to reduce animal use in the process.

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October 16, 2017

TARA Biosystems Raises $9 Million Series A Financing

NEW YORK, (Newswire.com) – TARA Biosystems announced today that it closed on a $9 million Series A financing. TARA offers testing services on its human stem cell-derived cardiac tissue platform. The company’s platform, which is based on its proprietary Biowire™ technology, enables discovery efforts for novel heart medicines via its …

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September 19, 2017

TARA Presents at 2017 SPS Conference in Berlin

TARA will present at the 2017 Safety Pharmacology Society (SPS) conference in Berlin from September 24 – 27. Meet us there to learn about Biowire™ II, our human stem cell-derived “heart-on-a-chip” cardiac tissue platform. Biowire™ II enables precision cardiology efforts for novel heart medicines via its disease modeling and phenotypic …

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September 18, 2017

TARA Founder Uses Biowire™ and Neural Networks for Screening

Dr. Milica Radisic’s lab at the University of Toronto just published a paper on using Biowire™ technology to screen kinase inhibitors. Kinase inhibitors are cancer targeting drugs, though certain ones have been identified to have cardiotoxic effects. The Radisic lab tested a set of compounds on a 2D screening assay, …

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Markets

TARA is focused on three critical areas.

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Cardiac Toxicology

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.

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Heart Failure Drug Discovery

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.

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Precision Cardiology

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.

Team

Our expert team are world leaders
in cardiac tissue engineering and physiology.

Management
Misti Ushio, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer Read bio
Michael P. Graziano, Ph.D. Chief Scientific Officer Read bio
Board & Advisors
Milica Radisic, Ph.D. Scientific Founder Read bio
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D. Scientific Founder Read bio
Robert Langer, Ph.D. Director Read bio
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John M. Baldoni, Ph.D. Director Read bio
Craig Asher Director Read bio
Team Members
Nicole Feric, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist Read bio
Rooz Sobbi, Ph.D. Senior Research Scientist Read bio
Isabella Pallotta, Ph.D. Research Scientist Read bio
Rishabh Singh Bioengineer Read bio
Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard, Ph.D. Scientific Founder Read bio
Boyang Zhang, Ph.D. Scientific Founder Read bio
Yimu Zhao Scientific Founder Read bio

Join Us

Yimu Zhao

Scientific Founder

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.

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Boyang Zhang, Ph.D.

Scientific Founder

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.

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Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard, Ph.D.

Scientific Founder

Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist and co-founder of TARA. Dr. Ronaldson-Bouchard has spent the previous 6 years developing various microphysiological systems for organ-on-a-chip studies of human toxicity and disease modeling.

Dr. Ronaldson-Bouchard’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.

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Rishabh Singh

Bioengineer

Rishabh is an engineer at TARA. He joined the team in 2017 after graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s degree in bioengineering. At Cornell, he worked on cardiovascular research in Dr. Jonathan Butcher’s lab, exploring the role of mechanical signaling in valve development. He also worked on a synthetic biology project team, Cornell iGEM, to design genetic engineering solutions to real-world problems.

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Isabella Pallotta, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Isabella Pallotta, PhD, is a Research Scientist at TARA. Dr. Pallotta graduated from the University of Pavia, Italy (M.S., Biology, PhD, Biochemistry). As a visiting PhD student first, and later on as a Postdoctoral Scholar, she spent 5 years in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University (Prof. David Kaplan’s group), to gain fundamental insight into megakaryocyte cell biology and in vitro released platelet functions, within bioengineered systems and advanced 3D systems. This work led to 1 patent, together with several published papers.

At the New York Stem Cells Foundation, NY, in Prof. Donald Freytes’ group, she then started her research career in cardiac tissue engineering, by developing advanced cardiac constructs and investigating the interactions with the inflammatory environment found at the site of myocardial infarction.

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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.

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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.

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Craig Asher

Director

Craig Asher’s firm Trancos Ventures, successor to Vital Venture Capital, invests in life science tools, therapeutics, cyber security, and life-sciences related semiconductor companies. Trancos aims to add value to its companies in intellectual property, sales, marketing, product development, quality assurance, product management, and implementations.

Prior to co-founding Vital Venture Capital in 2007, Craig was a senior software product manager in the nascent field of big data at IBM/Trigo Technologies and at Commerce One. Preceding his software development work, Craig was a consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). He started his career as a manufacturing engineer. His customers in software and in consulting included pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors, pharmacies, consumer packaged goods manufacturers, aerospace manufacturers, semiconductor manufacturers, and large retailers.

Craig has a Masters degree in industrial engineering and a MBA from Northwestern University, as well as a Bachelors degree from Stanford University.

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John M. Baldoni, Ph.D.

Director

John Baldoni is Senior Vice President, In silico Drug Discovery, in GSK Pharma R&D. This department will use in silico methods to identify patient needs, explore molecular interventions to address those needs and design and conduct clinical trials to test the medical hypothesis.  Using these methodologies, the conventional empirical design make test cycle will be dramatically reduced.  The intent is to discover medicines at higher velocity, with greater precision and at dramatically lower cost compared to current approaches.

Prior to this, John was Senior Vice President, Platform Technology and Science (PTS), in GSK. The work of PTS span the entire drug discovery and development process, from preclinical activities leading to clinical candidate selection through commercial launch. This accountability covered the discovery and manufacture of small molecules, biopharmaceuticals, and cell and gene therapies.

John joined GSK in 1989 and has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 37 years. His experience spans new chemical entity design, development and commercialization, and biopharmaceutical development. In progressing to his current role, John has held various positions at GSK including Senior Vice President, Preclinical Development; Vice President, Product Development; Director, Product Development; and Assistant Director, Biopharmaceutical Formulation Development, among others. He has led several key cross-functional strategic initiatives, such as advanced manufacturing technologies and discovery modernization

John has a BS in biochemistry (1974), and MS and PhD degrees in chemistry (1980) from Penn State University.

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Robert Langer, Ph.D.

Director

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.

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Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Ph.D.

Scientific Founder

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.

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Milica Radisic, Ph.D.

Scientific Founder

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.

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Michael P. Graziano, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Graziano is an accomplished scientific leader with more than 30 years of experience in biotechnology and pharma drug discovery and development.  He began his industry career at Merck Research Laboratories, initiating and leading drug discovery programs in the cardiometabolic and neuroscience arenas.  After Merck, he joined Schering Plough where he held positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately serving as Executive Director and Head of Cardiometabolic Drug Discovery.  Under his leadership, Dr. Graziano’s team identified two first-in-class drugs, the cholesterol absorption inhibitor ezetimibe (Zetia®) and the antiplatelet agent vorapaxar (Zontivity®).  Dr. Graziano returned to Merck as Executive Director of External Cardiovascular and Diabetes Basic Research in a newly created External Basic Research organization which yielded several programs that entered Merck’s discovery pipeline.

Prior to joining TARA Biosystems Dr. Graziano was Vice President of Research Biology at MyoKardia (NASDAQ: MYOK), a clinical stage biotechnology company pursuing targeted therapies for the treatment of serious and rare cardiovascular diseases. As a member of MyoKardia’s executive committee, he led efforts the company’s development of novel assays and platforms to enable discovery and development of heart failure therapeutics.

Dr. Graziano received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology from The State University of New York at Stony Brook and his B.A. in Biology from New York University. He was a Fellow at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical at Center at Dallas and is an author of more than 60 scientific publications and inventor on several patents.

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Misti Ushio, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer

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.

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Contact

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.

TARA
430 East 29th Street
Suite #1015
New York, NY 10016
USA
info@tarabiosystems.com