An Interview with Dr. Lowry Curley, Co-Founder and CEO of AxoSim

Xiomara Jefferson, an aspiring young scientist, recently sat down to speak with Dr. Lowry Curley, co-founder and CEO of AxoSim.




Dr. Curley co-founded AxoSim in 2014 after winning the annual BioChallenge competition hosted by the New Orleans BioInnovation Center. Since then, AxoSim has been awarded numerous grants and prizes including the Coulter IDEAPitch and a grant from the National Institute of Health.

Xiomara: When did you realize you wanted to be a scientist?

Dr. Curley: I guess it was kind of a long process. In middle school and high school, I was good at math and science, so that lead me to apply for a degree in engineering. What really pushed me away from engineering, and more towards biology, was that I had a little bit of a health scare when I was a sophomore in college, and it made me realize that there’s a lot of treatments out there. There are a lot of people who put a lot of hard work into doing things that really help people. That was where I made the decision that I was going to focus on science and try to make a difference.

In the Spotlight: Dr. Lowry Curley
Dr. Lowry Curley, Co-Founder and CEO of AxoSim

Xiomara: What kind of science do you participate in?

Dr. Curley: Neuroscience is, broadly speaking, the science that we’re working in. We do a lot of stuff with cells, biology, testing of those cells, but broadly, its neuroscience.

Xiomara: Who does your research and technology benefit?

Dr. Curley: We’re trying to help people who have diseases like multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s. Ultimately, we hope that what we’re doing will help improve their lives.

Xiomara: What exactly are you guys doing?

Dr. Curley: We’ve developed, essentially, a tool to help pharmaceutical companies do better research and development, and we’re trying to help them develop drugs for multiple sclerosis and ALS. For multiple sclerosis, for instance, there are some drugs that are available that slow down the disease, but none of them stop it or reverse it. So we’ve got this tool that we’re hoping to make next-generation, better versions, of these drugs that will stop or cure the disease.

There’s small wins and there’s big wins. You have to make sure you celebrate the small wins.

Xiomara: Wow, that’s so cool! So what motivates you and keeps you inspired, especially given the lengthy and difficult process of developing these tools?

Dr. Curley: Being able to think about and see the difference that we can ultimately make. We’re now working with some big companies, and we’re actually starting to see how our tool is helping them make better decisions. So yeah it’s a long and lengthy process, but there are little things along the way that you count as successes that help you remember that you’re making progress and doing good things. There’s small wins and there’s big wins. You have to make sure you celebrate the small wins.

Xiomara: What challenges do you face in your field?

Dr. Curley: There’s a lot of them. I would say the biggest one is that we’re dealing with biology and neuroscience and it’s very complicated. We might do an experiment one day and then do it next week and its completely different, so it’s kind of difficult when you’re working with complex tests to make sure you’re doing it the same way over and over again.

Xiomara: Do you think being located in New Orleans has helped you in advancing your research?

Dr. Curley: I think it has because, in part, we’re able to work with some of the universities around here, like Xavier, Tulane, and LSU a little bit, so we can kind of draw on their knowledge. But then also, one of the good things about New Orleans is that people are always very willing to help here versus somewhere like Boston. Boston is very cutthroat, so people aren’t as willing to spend their time on you because they’re out trying to some of their own things; it’s a different culture.

You’re going to have a lot of setbacks throughout your life, throughout your career, throughout your studying, but as long as you keep going, that’s the important part.

Xiomara: Ok, last question. If you could give me one piece of advice, what would it be?

Dr. Curley: One piece of advice, that’s hard. One of them that might sound obvious but isn’t is never give up. You’re going to have a lot of setbacks throughout your life, throughout your career, throughout your studying, but as long as you keep going, that’s the important part. And realize, everyone else has had setbacks also. You know, it’s easy to look at people who have done great things and assume that they got there easily, but that’s definitely never the case. And I guess the parallel of that, which I already mentioned, is celebrate the small wins. So you might have a five-year goal, but there’s a lot of things you have to accomplish along the way that are not easy but you should stop to remember that it’s a big win.

Xiomara: Alright, thank you so much!

Learn more about Dr. Curley and AxoSim here:
Check out Xiomara’s Meet the Team interview here:

AxoSim Wins the Coulter IDEAPitch

AxoSim, client and tenant of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center, won the top $100,000 investment prize at the Coulter IDEAPitch. AxoSim has created a patented “nerve-on-a-chip” technology that helps pharmaceutical companies discover new drugs. AxoSim’s technology will drastically reduce the time and money required to discover new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and MS. This technology can also test the neurotoxic side-effects of chemotherapy treatments and similar drugs, all while minimizing inaccurate animal testing. AxoSim plans to build a personalized medicine platform that will be the future of drug discovery and treatment, and they plan to build it in New Orleans. They’ve already created over half a dozen high-tech jobs for the local economy and they’re just getting started.

Congratulations AxoSim!

AxoSim Receives $1.7M Grant from the National Institutes of Health

Tenant startup AxoSim has been awarded a two year NIH Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $1,770,000 to advance their nerve-on-a-chip technology for predictive preclinical drug testing. AxoSim is developing clinically relevant models of human neurological tissue to bring much needed therapies to market faster and more efficiently. In partnership with Tulane, this project will further validate the company’s proprietary peripheral nerve model for screening drugs against neurotoxicity. Peripheral neuropathy manifests itself in up to 40% of patients receiving chemotherapy and is the number one reason patients stop receiving treatment. The startup will also develop machine learning algorithms to improve the model’s predictive power over time. AxoSim has grown to 11 team members since launching in 2014 and beginning to receive Commercialization consulting assistance.

September 21, 2017 — Read more at New Orleans CityBusiness

AxoSim Receives $450,000+ NSF and CASIS Grants

Nerve-on-a-chip startup AxoSim has recently been awarded two grants from the National Science Foundation and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to accelerate their efforts. The first from NSF is a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $225,000 to conduct research and development work to improve the development of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The second grant from CASIS will provide $230,000 to ready the technology for experiments on the International Space Station, for testing the effects of microgravity on the human nervous system.

August 11, 2016 — Read more at The New Orleans Advocate

AxoSim Receives $225,000 STTR Grant

Startup AxoSim Technologies has been awarded a $225,000 Small Business Technology Transfer grant by the NIH. This one-year grant will fund additional research to demonstrate that AxoSim’s novel nerve-on-a-chip technology can improve drug development in the pharmaceutical industry and in the chemotherapy space in particular.

March 9, 2016 — Read more in the Times-Picayune

AxoSim Technologies Wins 3rd Annual BioChallenge

Nerve-on-a-chip startup AxoSim Technologies has won $25,000 in the 3rd annual BioChallenge pitch competition for Louisiana life sciences companies. The novel technology reduces the costs and length of preclinical drug development. The other three finalists were Crescentium, a critical care medical device firm, coastal resiliency and living shoreline company ORA Estuaries, and Taxor Diagnostics, the developers of a diagnostic test that predicts whether taxane chemotherapies will be effective for breast cancer patients.

November 18, 2014 — Read more at The Times-Picayune/

NOBIC Team and Startups Named Local Entrepreneurship Leaders

Numerous NOBIC team members and client entreprenurs have been recognized on the 2015 Silicon Bayou 100, the annual list of the 100 most influential and active people in tech and entrepreneurship in Louisiana. The list is compiled by the community through an anonymous nomination process. In addition to NOBIC’s President Aaron Miscenich and BioFund Manager Kris Khalil, entrepreneurs were recognized from client startups including APMT, Bioceptive, AxoSim, InnoGenomics, Compliance Partners, Better Day Health, ORA Estuaries, and more.

January 15, 2016 — Read more at Silicon Bayou News