It was roughly 18 years ago when David Lucchino, CEO and cofounder of Frequency Therapeutics (and subject of an upcoming feature in Life Science Leader), first had the opportunity to meet famed MIT professor, Robert Langer, Sc.D. At the time, Lucchino was the managing director for LaunchCyte, an organization specializing in the acquisition and commercialization of biomedical IP. But it wasn’t until Lucchino started in MIT’s MBA program that the two actually got to work on a project together. “I probably didn’t have a full appreciation for how accomplished he was because he was so down to earth,” Lucchino recalls. Not being trained as an engineer — and always having an innate curiosity — Lucchino would bombard Langer with questions during their frequent discussions. He says Langer was patient with him and continually encouraged him to look at different opportunities and to think about how to move his career forward. “It was because of him that I decided to go to MIT,” explains Lucchino. Once there, Langer connected him with one of his top Ph.D. students, Chris Loose, and the three have since founded two companies together. Their first life sciences company was Semprus Biosciences, a med tech company founded in 2007, and acquired by Teleflex in 2012 for roughly $80 million. In 2014, they cofounded Frequency Therapeutics, a biopharma attempting to use the body’s innate biology to repair or reverse damage caused by a broad range of degenerative diseases, including hearing loss.
During our interview, I asked Lucchino about his transition from med tech to biotech. “During my time at Semprus, I got to serve for three years on the board of AdvaMed, which is the trade association for the medical device industry. That experience helped me understand how important the med tech world is to our overall life science community.” But he says what drew him to biopharma was what he describes as the exponential impact therapeutics can have on patients as compared to medical devices. “It’s a bold proposition to believe that we can restore hearing by delivering two small molecules locally to the ear through a standard injection in order to activate a system that the human body already has in place,” he says. Now all they need do is figure out how to temporarily restart that system the right way to get the desired outcome.
Editor’s Note: In 2020 David also completed a two-year term as chairman of MassBio, the 1,300 member Massachusetts trade association, which from 2019-2020, helped lead the fastest rate of industry employment growth in the Commonwealth in over a decade.
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