Allegro Diagnostics Co-Founder, Avrum Spira, Named B.U.'s "Innovator of the Year"

And Boston University's "Innovator of the Year" is. . . Avrum Spira, Co-Founder of Allegro Diagnostics

July 19, 2011 11:38 AM
By Scott Kirsner, Globe Columnist

Boston University created a pretty nifty award in 2010: "Innovator of the Year," which they hand out annually as part of an event at the school called "Tech, Drugs & Rock 'n Roll." The award is intended to honor a faculty member "whose cutting-edge research has led to creation of companies that benefit society," according to BU spokesperson Richard Taffe.

This year's recipient is Avrum Spira, co-founder of Allegro Diagnostics and head of the Division of Computational Biomedicine at BU's Medical School. Allegro is commercializing Spira's research into gene-based tests that could spot lung cancer sooner, and better manage its treatment, in current or former smokers.

Spira has authored 37 peer-reviewed papers, and has attracted over $3.5 million in NIH funding for BU research. Allegro Diagnostics has raised $8.9 million in total funding, according to Taffe. (Here's a brief on the company's $5.4 million A round.)

Spira was recently inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation, a society of physician-scientists under the age of 45 (Spira is 39.) Spira grew up in Canada, and now lives in Newton.

In the video below, Spira talks about how epithelial cells in a smoker's respiratory tract can serve as a "canary in the coal mine" for the early diagnosis of lung cancer, and help doctors make better decisions about how to treat it.

Interview with Avrum E. Spira, M.D., M.Sc

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About Allegro:
Allegro Diagnostics was founded in 2006 by Jerome Brody, M.D., and Avrum Spira, M.D., MSc, faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine and thought leaders in the field of pulmonology. The company is currently headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts.

The company's strong investor base includes Kodiak Venture Partners and Catalyst Health Ventures. Allegro has raised $4.5 million in venture financing, and $2.5 million in competitive R&D grant funding. Allegro's management team has significant experience in the development and commercialization of diagnostic products.