Geoffrey von Maltzahn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Geoffrey von Maltzahn
Born July 22, 1980
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology (S.B., 2003)
University of California, San Diego (M.S., 2005)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D. 2010)
Known for Microbiome therapeutics, nutrition, communicating nanoparticles, synthetic biomarkers, systems nanotechnology
Awards Lemelson-MIT Student Prize (2009)
National Inventors Hall of Fame Collegiate Inventors Competition Graduate Prize (2009),
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Randolph G Wei Award (2003)
Scientific career
Fields Nutrition, Microbiome, Microbiology, Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology
Academic advisors Sangeeta N. Bhatia, Shuguang Zhang

Geoffrey von Maltzahn, Ph.D. (born July 22, 1980) is an American biological engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur in biotechnology and nanotechnology. Von Maltzahn is partner at Flagship Pioneering[1] and founder of multiple companies including Seres Therapeutics,[2] Axcella,[3] Indigo,[4] Sienna Labs,[5] and Nanopartz.[6][7][8] His work focuses on creating technologies to address challenges in global health and sustainability.[9]

Von Maltzahn’s inventions have been profiled by the Economist,[10] Scientific American,[11][12] Popular Science,[13] and Planet Green.[14] His work has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, given to the most innovative student at MIT.[15]

Early life and education[edit]

Von Maltzahn was born in Arlington, Texas, and subsequently moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where he attended Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

He was awarded his S.B. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, his master's degree in Bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego in 2005, and his PhD from the Harvard–MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010. He completed his doctoral thesis with the support of Whitaker Foundation and National Science Foundation Fellowships in the laboratory of Sangeeta N. Bhatia.[16]

Innovation and entrepreneurship[edit]

As an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, von Maltzahn developed a novel class of lipid-like peptides that self-assemble into bilayers, micelles, and other nanostructures in aqueous solutions.[17] This work was recognized with multiple awards and von Maltzahn was named a “Whiz Kid” by The Journal of New England Technology,[18] given the Randolph G. Wei UROP Award for “MIT’s most outstanding contribution at the interface of life sciences and engineering,”[19] and awarded the MIT Robert Haslam Cup for “outstanding professional promise in Chemical Engineering”.[20]

In his doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, von Maltzahn studied examples in nature where interactions between multiple nanoscale components lead to emergent system behaviors.[16] He invented the first therapeutics that can communicate in the bloodstream to more efficiently find and treat cancer[10][12][21][22] and created novel parts for nanotechnology research,[15] including the first ‘synthetic biomarkers’ for diagnosing and monitoring complex diseases,[23][24] platelet-like nanoparticles for cancer imaging,[25][26] nanoantennas for ultra-precise laser treatments,[27] and nanoparticle logic gates.[28][29] He authored over twenty peer-reviewed publications during his graduate work.

Drawing from his work in nanotechnology and plasmonic materials, von Maltzahn co-founded Sienna Labs to develop a new class of medical pigments for laser medical procedures.[5] Sienna Labs is a clinical-stage medical device company developing medical pigments with up to 1,000,000X higher absorption than native skin chromophores and has products in development for acne and other dermatological indications.[30] He also co-founded Nanopartz to develop highly reproducible parts for nanotechnology research.[7]

In 2009, von Maltzahn joined Noubar Afeyan and David Berry at Flagship Pioneering, where he began studying the pharmacology of nutrition and devising systems to efficiently produce essential and performance nutrients for a variety of health needs.[9][31] He founded Pronutria (later renamed Axcella[32]), a company focused on developing performance nutrients, and co-invented its founding technologies.[3] He led the company's Discovery team and was PI on a Gates Foundation grant.[33] Axcella’s technology has the potential to produce enough protein to provide for the needs of millions of people in a land area the size of Rhode Island.[34][35]

In 2010, von Maltzahn began studying the ecological nature of the human microbiome and devising ways to generate novel therapeutics. In 2011, von Maltzahn founded Seres Therapeutics to develop a new category of therapeutics to catalyze restoration of a healthy microbiome and was the company’s founding Chief Technology Officer.[2][36]


National Inventors Hall of Fame Collegiate Inventors Competition Graduate Student Prize (2009)[37]

Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, awarded to the single most innovate student at MIT (2009)[38]

Randolph G. Wei Award for “MIT’s most outstanding undergraduate contribution at the interface of life sciences and engineering” (2003)[19]

MIT Robert Haslam Cup for “outstanding professional promise in Chemical Engineering” (2003)[20]


  1. ^ "Geoffrey von Maltzahn - Flagship Pioneering". Flagship Pioneering. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b Olle (2013). "Medicines from Microbiota". Nature Biotechnology. 31: 309–315. doi:10.1038/nbt.2548. 
  3. ^ a b "Pronutria". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Geoffrey von Maltzahn, PhD – Indigo Agriculture". Indigo Agriculture. Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  5. ^ a b "Sienna Labs Scientific Advisors". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  6. ^ "Nanopartz". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  7. ^ a b "MIT Student Develops Innovations to Selectively Kill Cancer Cells". Business Wire. 3 Mar 2009. 
  8. ^ "Entrepreneurship, Geoffrey von Maltzahn". Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  9. ^ a b "VentureLabs Geoffrey von Maltzahn Biography". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  10. ^ a b "Particle Physic: Medicine: Taking advantage of a natural signalling system enables nanoparticles to deliver cancer drugs far more accurately" (PDF). The Economist. Sep 2011. 
  11. ^ "Preying On a Tumor's Weakness with Nanotechnology to Fight Cancer". Scientific American. March 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "Learning from Insect Swarms, Smart Cancer Targeting Scientific American". Scientific American. July 2011. 
  13. ^ "Wriggling Away From Cancer". Popular Science. Oct 2010. 
  14. ^ "Dean of Invention- Nanobots Fight Cancer and Kill Tumors". Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  15. ^ a b "Gold Star: von Maltzahn Awarded $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Innovations in Fight Against Cancer". MIT News. 3 Mar 2009. 
  16. ^ a b "Geoffrey von Maltzahn, PhD Thesis: A systems approach to engineering cancer nanotechnologies". Retrieved 2013-04-01. 
  17. ^ von Maltzahn; et al. (2003). "Positively-charged surfactant-like peptides self-assemble into nanostructures". Langmuir. 19 (10): 4332–4337. doi:10.1021/la026526+. 
  18. ^ "MIT "whiz kid" maintains perfect GPA". New England Journal of Technology: Mass High Tech. April 2003. 
  19. ^ a b "MIT senior lands story in journal, trip to DC". MIT News. May 2003. 
  20. ^ a b "Awards in MIT Chemical Engineering". MIT News. June 2003. 
  21. ^ von Maltzahn; et al. (2011). "Nanoparticles that communicate in vivo to amplify tumour targeting". Nature Materials. 10 (7): 545–552. doi:10.1038/nmat3049. PMC 3361766Freely accessible. PMID 21685903. 
  22. ^ Nicola McCarthy (2011). "Tag Teams" (PDF). Nature Reviews Cancer. 11: 537. doi:10.1038/nrc3111. 
  23. ^ "Methods and Products For In Vivo Enzyme Profiling, US 20100240050 A1". Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  24. ^ Kwong, von Maltzahn; et al. (2013). "Mass-encoded synthetic biomarkers for multiplexed urinary monitoring of disease". Nature Biotechnology. 31 (1): 63–70. doi:10.1038/nbt.2464. 
  25. ^ "MIT nanoparticles may help detect, treat tumors". MIT News. 1 May 2006. 
  26. ^ Harris & von Maltzahn (2003). "Proteolytic Actuation of Nanoparticle Self-Assembly". Angewandte Chemie. 45 (19): 3161–3165. doi:10.1002/anie.200600259. 
  27. ^ von Maltzahn (May 2009). "(Cover Feature) Computationally Guided Photothermal Tumor Therapy Using Long-Circulating Gold Nanorod Antennas". Cancer Research. 69 (9): 3892. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.can-08-4242. 
  28. ^ "Nanoparticle Self-Assembly Triggered by Tumor-Associated Enzyme". National Cancer Institute News. Mar 2007. 
  29. ^ Ros Portman (2007). "Nanosensors, A Logical Choice". Nature Nanotechnology. doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.156. 
  30. ^ "Sienna Labs Pipeline". Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  31. ^ "Cellular-Based Precise Nutrition". Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  32. ^ "Pronutria Biosciences Rebrands as Axcella Health | Axcella Health, Inc". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  33. ^ "Essentient, Inc". Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  34. ^ "Improving Nutrition on a Global Scale". Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  35. ^ "Google Solve for X: Efficient Nutrient Production". Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  36. ^ "Flagship Ventures Dives into Microbiome, Launched Seres Health". Elsevier Business Intelligence. 27 Jun 2012. 
  37. ^ "2009 CIC Winners". Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  38. ^ "2009 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Winner". Retrieved 2013-04-08.