Phase, Inc. awarded NIH grant to advance diversity in the biotech workforce

“This support will enhance our capabilities to produce more precise and efficient models that are crucial for today’s biotechnological applications,” said Simeon Brown.

Phase, Inc., and Simeon Brown, a senior research and development designer and technician at the company, received a Diversity Supplement Award from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The NIH award supports companies growing the biomedical research workforce and recognizes Brown’s contributions to microfluidics.

Brown, who has been with Phase, Inc. for several years, has played a crucial role in the advancement of the company's microfluidics technology, which is used in drug discovery and personalized medicine. The NIH grant will fund Brown’s salary and provide professional development opportunities at biotech conferences across the country.

Phase has received more than $2 million in support from the NIH in recent years. The company’s intellectual property lies in its 3D printing technology for microfluidic models, using PDMS and other biocompatible materials at biologically relevant scales. This technology integrates valves, sensors, and electrodes directly during printing, enhancing customization and scalability for organ-on-a-chip and microfluidic development. As regulatory bodies move away from animal testing, this technology is increasingly critical for drug development and toxicity testing through more accurate in vitro models.

“With the support of the NIH and with this team of leading researchers, we believe this project will not only help create a better blood-brain-barrier model, but also lay the foundation for creating other organ-on-a-chip models that will greatly benefit researchers and patients alike," said Jeff Schultz, Ph.D., MBA, and co-founder of Phase.

Brown’s work has helped transition from traditional methods to innovative 3D printing techniques that promise to dramatically reduce the time required to create microfluidic devices and organs-on-a-chips that accelerate pharmaceutical development and bioinnovation.

The NIH award will allow Brown to further his research and career development under the mentorship of Jeff Schultz, co-founder of Phase and an experienced leader and seasoned 3D printing entrepreneur.

"Receiving this NIH award is not only an honor but also a significant boost to our efforts to innovate and streamline the production of microfluidic and organ-on-chip devices," said Brown. "This support will enhance our capabilities to produce more precise and efficient models that are crucial for today’s biotechnological applications."

Phase, Inc. is at the forefront of developing a pilot-scale commercial 3D printing system for microfluidics in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech. The company has received numerous awards and grants, including other NIH SBIR grants; a NC Biotech Small Business Research Loan, which fosters growth of innovative early-stage life science companies in North Carolina; and One North Carolina Small Business Program grant, which seeks to increase the number, quality, company and technology diversity, and geographic breadth of North Carolina Federal SBIR and STTR Phase I awards.

Phase is headquartered in First Turn Innovations, a Cornelius-based engineering and prototyping business incubator helping entrepreneurs advance their ideas from concept to testing. Brown first came to Phase’s attention through his work with the incubator.

For more information contact Co-founder Zeke Barlow at or 540-750-6317.

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