Mikhail G. Shapiro

Mikhail G. Shapiro

Third Rock Ventures

Stepping Stones:
Commercial Clinical Applications of Neurotechnology

A long-term term dream of popular neuroscience is to enhance and augment human cognitive abilities through the use of brain interfaces. While this vision is important in sparking the efforts of scientists and engineers to develop technological breakthroughs and reach a deeper understanding of the brain’s function, these goals may sometimes be too long-term to drive sustained activity and funding. To be successful, it may therefore be important to pursue “stepping stone” applications of brain interface technology in research and clinical medicine.

In my talk – drawing on a scientific and business perspective -- I will discuss areas of medicine where concrete near-term opportunities may exist to make a difference for patients, and the types of emerging neurotechnologies that might lead to successful commercial ventures with the long-term prospects of developing human-enhancing products. I will also discuss the challenges entrepreneurial companies face in pursuing clinical applications of advanced technology and potential models for success.

Mikhail Shapiro is a neuroscientist, engineer and technology entrepreneur focused on building visionary companies. Dr. Shapiro has been at Third Rock Ventures, a leading life sciences venture capital fund, since 2008, focusing on new company formation in the areas of neuroscience and personalized medicine.

Previously, Dr. Shapiro was a co-founder of Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, the company that developed the BrainGate brain-computer interface. The BrainGate system enables paralyzed people to control external devices directly with their thoughts.

During his doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Shapiro developed the first functional MRI sensor of neurotransmitters, enabling non-invasive molecular imaging of dopamine release in the living brain. Other technologies he developed enabled non-invasive measurement of the activity of intracellular neural signaling molecules such as protein kinases.

Dr. Shapiro holds a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT, where he trained with Robert Langer and Alan Jasanoff. He received his B.Sc. in Neuroscience from Brown University. Dr. Shapiro is a fellow of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation and the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation.