Health/Life Sciences

Well being Innovation of the 12 months: 5 finalists on the GeekWire Awards span fields and approaches

Finalists for the 2022 GeekWire Health Innovation of the Year.

The finalists for Health Innovation of the Year at the GeekWire Awards showcase the strength of science and discovery in the Pacific Northwest. Some have links to the region’s innovation powerhouse at the University of Washington, and several highlight the growing power of computational approaches to address health problems.

The five finalists are: A-Alpha Bio, Parse Biosciences, Tasso, Truveta, and the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.

Fred Hutch spinout Adaptive Biotechnologies, which developed a first-of-its kind diagnostic test for COVID-19, took home the prize last year.

The GeekWire Awards recognize the top innovators and companies in Pacific Northwest technology. Finalists in this category and others were selected based on community nominations, along with input from GeekWire Awards judges. Community voting across all categories will continue until April 22, combined with feedback from judges to determine the winner in each category.

We’ll announce the winners on May 12 at the GeekWire Awards, presented by Astound Business Solutions. There are a limited number of table sponsorships available to attend the event. Contact our events team at [email protected] for more information.

You can vote for your picks across all categories in the GeekWire Awards ballot below, and read on to learn more about the finalists for Health Innovation of the Year.

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A-Alpha Bio

A-Alpha Bio Platform. (A-Alpha Bio Graphic)

A-Alpha Bio’s platform aims to speed the development of protein-based drugs. Using yeast, the company assesses the strength of protein-protein interactions, such as between viral proteins and antibodies, and analyzes the data computationally. The startup recently announced a project to discover potential therapies for COVID-19 variants and a collaboration for “molecular glues.” CEO David Younger and CTO Randolph Lopez co-founded the startup with tech they helped develop while at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.

Parse Biosciences

Parse Biosciences’ barcoding approach. (Parse Graphic)

Parse Biosciences is making a play in the still-emerging single-cell sequencing market using technology CEO Alex Rosenberg and CTO Charles Roco helped develop at the University of Washington, when they were trainees in a synthetic biology lab. Parse Biosciences has an edge because its approach does not rely on specialized equipment or devices, unliked market leader 10x Genomics and other companies, Rosenberg told GeekWire. The startup’s single-cell kits hit the market last year, and in February it raised $41.5 million in new funding.


Tasso’s devices work with a push of a button. (Tasso Photo)

Tasso makes devices that fit on the upper arm for the self-collection of blood samples, taking healthcare providers out of the loop. A Tasso device that collects dried samples as dots on a strip received clearance last May in the European Union for non-diagnostic uses like clinical trial monitoring, and is used in a partnership with a company that tests doping in athletes. Tasso also recently published data on its device to self-collect liquid blood, showing similar antibody quality to samples collected by a health professional. Tasso recently raised $100 million.


Truveta’s healthcare partners. (Truveta Photo)

Truveta aims to aggregate data across healthcare systems to provide medical insights. The Seattle-area startup has 20 healthcare partners and access to medical records representing more than 15% of U.S. patient care. The ultimate goal is to learn which health interventions work best and to improve patient care, CEO Terry Myerson, a former Microsoft executive, told GeekWire. The company recently released an early version of its health data platform and has raised close to $200 million in funding to date. Potential customers include biopharma companies.

Univ. of Washington Institute for Protein Design; RoseTTAFold

RoseTTAFold can predict a protein structure in as little as ten minutes on a gaming computer. (UW IPD Image)

The IPD and Alphabet’s DeepMind recently developed AI-powered tools to predict the three-dimensional structure of proteins, a long-standing problem in biomedicine. Science named the advance the “Breakthrough of the Year” for 2021 and its editor-in-chief called it “one of the greatest ever in terms of both the scientific achievement and the enabling of future research.” Both tools are already being leveraged by industry for the development of new therapeutics; IPD’s tool is called RoseTTAFold. First author on the key IPD study was UW computational chemist Minkyung Baek in the lab of IPD head David Baker.

A big thanks to Astound Business Solutions, the presenting sponsor of the 2022 GeekWire Awards.

Also, thanks to gold-level and category sponsors: Wilson Sonsini, ALLtech, JLL, DreamBox Learning, Blink UX, BECU, Baird, Fuel Talent, RSM, Aon, Meridian Capital, and WTIA. And thanks to silver level sponsors: J.P. Morgan Chase, Material+, and Tomo.

If interested in sponsoring a category or purchasing a table sponsorship for the event, contact us at [email protected]

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