Exai Bio Launches Big

UCSF Helps Launch NewCo
Exai Bio, a start-up company based on the University of California, San Francisco’s technologies developed in Hani Goodarzi’s laboratory launched big with $67M in financing.

It takes a village to build a new venture from the ground up. When I first disclosed the discovery of oncRNAs to UCSF’s Innovation Ventures’ OTMA, my lab was only two years old, and I was largely clueless about all that is needed to take our preliminary findings and turn it into a foundational platform for disease discovery. My first point of contact was Dr. Gemma Rooney who walked us through the disclosure process and helped us put together a provisional application.

I was then introduced to Dr. Roopa Ramamoorthi, who encouraged us to apply for the newly formed Innovation Venture’s Catalyst program. The Catalyst award was the turning point for us; not only did we receive crucial and timely funding to carry out a large retrospective clinical study in collaboration with the ISPY2 trial group at UCSF, but also received mentorship and support through a network of consultants. Most notably, I was introduced to Dr. Kenneth Fang, who continues to work with us on this project to this day.

This "incubation" period was essential for us to turn a scientific finding into a tractable diagnostic platform. At this point, Dr. Darya Bubman, in her role as a leader on the Engagement and Opportunity Development team (EOD) in OTMA reached out to me to discuss the next steps. The first barrier for me was to find experienced co-founders who both shared my vision and were capable of realizing said vision. With help from the newly founded EIR program spearheaded by Dr. Bubman, I was introduced to Patrick Arensdorf, an expert and a veteran in the diagnostic space. Shortly thereafter, the core Exai Bio team was formed, with Dr. Darya Bubman from EOD as a key team member. We heavily relied on the network of KOLs and VCs that EOD has built to enable our financing round.

Exai Bio recently launched after an oversubscribed series A, and the company continues to collaborate closely with UCSF, which remains a significant shareholder. It takes a village to build a new venture from the ground up... and in Innovation Ventures, I found my village.

Hani Goodarzi, PhD

Assistant Professor, University of California, San Francisco.


The EOD group within OTMA helps launch new ventures, which includes the recruitment of potential CEO's through our EiR program. I enjoyed working with our inventor Hani Goodarzi and Pat Arensdorf whom I brought in as an EiR to help launch Exai. I had the chance to visit them at Exai's site in San Carlos recently and was excited to see the outcome of our combined efforts which we initiated more than 1 year ago when we started working on a pitch deck and presenting to potential investors.

Darya Bubman, PhD

Senior Manager, Business Development & EOD, University of California, San Francisco.