NanoCytomics Names John W. Hart President

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Startup Launched from Northwestern University Laboratory Announces Plans for Commercialization of Breakthrough Cancer Risk-Stratification Technology Platform

NanoCytomics President John W. Hart

My near-term focus will be to foster the internal and external collaborations required to bring our first cancer risk-stratification tests to the market as soon as possible over the next two years.

NanoCytomics LLC, a privately held medical technology company developing novel cancer risk-stratification tests for use in primary care physicians’ offices, today announced the appointment of John W. Hart as president. Hart brings to NanoCytomics 35 years of experience in various healthcare sectors, including more than two decades at Baxter International, Allegiance and Cardinal Health.

“NanoCytomics is fortunate to have John assume the role of the company’s first president at a time when we are poised for the successful commercialization of our proprietary technologies,” said NanoCytomics Co-founder and Chairman of the Board Vadim Backman, PhD. “John’s operational, strategic planning, and business-development expertise are critically important skills to help our team bring our medical technology innovations to the marketplace. Equally important, John shares our passion to help people survive cancer.”

The company intends to revolutionize the risk stratification of patients, helping physicians identify those likely to benefit from gold-standard diagnostic procedures as early as possible, when cancer treatments can be the most effective.

NanoCytomics’ tests are based on its novel, proprietary biophotonics technology platform known as partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy. Biophotonics deploys optical imaging and sensing technologies to study the structures and functions of cells. Through biophotonics in general and the company’s PWS platform in particular, NanoCytomics can identify cellular abnormalities at the nanoscale level. In so doing, the company anticipates making a profound impact on the ability to stratify cancer risk for an individual patient at a dramatically earlier stage of disease progression, potentially helping physicians to save millions of lives in the process.

Dr. Backman started developing the technology for NanoCytomics in 2008 with the company’s two co-founders: NanoCytomics Chief Technology Officer Hariharan Subramanian, PhD, one of the original developers of PWS microscopy; and Hemant K. Roy, MD, a recognized authority on colon cancer screening, the leader of the gastroenterology department and a professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Roy is a member of the NanoCytomics board of directors and is chairman of the company’s scientific advisory board.

Drs. Backman and Subramanian developed the revolutionary PWS microscopy platform at the Backman Photonics Laboratory at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The NanoCytomics team is further developing PWS microscopy for commercial use to serve as a highly accurate, low-cost, non-invasive testing platform. Of particular significance will be the simple, easy-to-implement sample collection process that will be able to be performed in the primary care physician’s office during a routine physical examination.

Through the newly identified scientific and engineering advances of nanocytology, pioneered at the Backman Photonics Laboratory, medical technicians can collect cell samples from easily acceptable surrogate sites in the body. For example, nanocytology can detect nanoarchitectural alterations in cells that are obtained by a simple swab of the inside of a person’s cheek. These alterations correlate strongly with the risk of developing lung cancer.

NanoCytomics will send its test results to the ordering physician, who can use the results to determine whether or not the patient is likely to benefit from gold-standard diagnostic tests, such as colonoscopies, CT scans, and biopsies.

The benefits of this risk-stratification testing platform are twofold:

  • Patients that require a comprehensive diagnostic workup would be identified sooner; receiving an early cancer diagnosis can help physicians deliver treatments when they are most likely to be effective.
  • Patients that do not require a comprehensive diagnostic exam would be spared the discomfort, anxiety, and potential medical complications associated with the procedure; also, patients and their third-party payers would avoid the high costs of these exams.

NanoCytomics’ collaborations with Northwestern University extend beyond the Backman Photonics Laboratory. Northwestern’s Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Institute has provided ongoing expertise, support, and guidance to NanoCytomics and its co-founders. Stuart Cornew, chairman of the CLP Institute’s Executive Advisory Board and a member of the NanoCytomics Board of Directors, helped recruit Hart to the company.

“In addition to John’s experiences at three Fortune 100 companies, his experiences working at and for startups provides the exact combination of skill sets that NanoCytomics requires at this stage of its evolution,” Cornew said. “My Northwestern CLP Institute colleagues and I are dedicated to helping technologies that emerge from our university’s labs translate into clinically meaningful differences in people’s lives. John will help us achieve our mission.”

“Working with NanoCytomics, first as a consultant and now as its president, I am confident that the expertise and dedication of all team members will lead to truly breakthrough healthcare applications,” Hart said. “My near-term focus will be to foster the internal and external collaborations required to bring our first cancer risk-stratification tests to the market as soon as possible over the next two years.”

For more information about NanoCytomics, its team and its proprietary partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy platform, visit

About NanoCytomics:

NanoCytomics is a privately held medical technology company developing novel cancer risk-stratification tests for use in primary care physicians’ offices. The company has an exclusive license from Northwestern University for patents and patent applications pertaining to the NanoCytomics technology and methods that were developed in Vadim Backman’s Northwestern Biophotonics Laboratory.

Since 2008, the Northwestern and NanoCytomics team has had 29 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals. During this same time period, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have awarded more than $20 million in combined grants to the Backman Photonics Laboratory at Northwestern University and to NanoCytomics, of which the company received directly $3.5 million.

During 2014, the company anticipates raising additional capital to support new clinical studies through grants, commercial partnerships, and/or angel investors. For more information, visit

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