ChE Student Earns 2nd Place at Falling Walls Lab Boston 2019 Competition

student accepting award on stage at event

Pictured: James Sinoimeri Being Presented 2nd Place Honors at Falling Walls Lab Boston 2019.

Undergraduate chemical engineering student James Sinoimeri, E’21, working in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Sidi A. Bencherif, earned 2nd place at the 2019 Falling Walls Lab Boston Competition on Thursday evening, September 26th.

The Falling Walls Lab is an international forum for the next generation of outstanding innovators and creative thinkers. Its aim is to promote exceptional ideas and to connect promising scientists and entrepreneurs from all fields on a global level. Participants get the opportunity to present their research work, business model, or initiative to peers, a high-caliber jury made up of experts from academia, business, and the general public– in 3 minutes each. The Falling Walls Lab Boston jury panel was quite distinguished, including a Nobel Laureate in Physics, the Co-founder and Managing Director of Iuvando Health GmbH, the German Consulate to New England, a Regional Director of DWIH & DAAD (Germany’s major research institutions), a Senior Consultant, and deans and professors from New England universities.

In 2018, more than 3000 applications were submitted for 77 Falling Walls Labs that took place in 57 countries worldwide. This year’s Falling Walls Lab in Boston, a city regarded as the global hub of technology and innovation, broke the competition record for submissions to a single lab. From a pool of hundreds of applicants, a pool of 20 finalists were selected to pitch their idea at the Falling Walls Lab Boston competition. Of these 20 finalists, James finished 2nd: just one place short of the chance to present his pitch at the International Competition in Berlin, Germany. James, an undergraduate student, competed head-to-head against a distinguished pool of finalists, coming out on top against some of the Greater Boston Area’s finest entrepreneurs and post-doctoral researchers from prestigious institutions such as MIT, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

According to James, “HICs have the potential of reviving the struggling cancer drug development industry, which has been widely criticized for its skyrocketing R&D costs and atrocious failure rates at a time where cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. The biggest cause for these high rates of failure are that traditional preclinical cancer models aren’t reliable enough to accurately predict which drugs will succeed in the clinic. These fatal shortcomings in traditional preclinical cancer modeling explain why only 5% of investigational cancer drugs that enter expensive clinical trials succeed and make it to market. HIC technology represents a huge upgrade in accuracy for preclinical cancer modeling, allowing drug developers to ensure they are putting the correct investigational cancer drugs through to clinical trials. Additionally, HICs can serve as the primary tool for personalized cancer medicine. By seeding a patient’s biopsy cells directly onto HICs, a physician can quickly test which cancer therapy will work most effectively and least dangerously for a patient, allowing him or her to select the best therapy specifically for that patient on the first try. Personalized cancer medicine will remedy rising healthcare costs and the massive inter-patient variability associated with cancer, and tumor models such as HIC technology will be right at the forefront of this field. After years of development, our team in the Bencherif Lab is now in the process of translating HIC technology out of lab into a commercialized product. I’m very excited to see where we can take the technology from here, and the future impact it will have.”

Related Departments:Chemical Engineering