Meet Jeanne Barthold, CU Boulder Alumna and founder of TissueForm! TissueForm has developed a platform technology for the biomimicry of body tissues to repair areas of significant tissue loss or injury.
Jeanne grew up on the east coast in New Hampshire. She attended Colby College in Maine where she majored in both Physics and Science, Technology, & Society (STS) while competing for Colby’s NCAA DI women’s alpine ski team. Jeanne decided she wanted to attend graduate school and applied to various engineering programs. She was offered a Ph.D. position in CU Boulder’s Mechanical Engineering department and began working in the Neu Soft Tissue Bioengineering Lab in 2015 for her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees!
While working in the Neu Soft Tissue Bioengineering Lab, Jeanne and Corey saw an opportunity to commercialize the scaffolds they had been developing for articular cartilage repair. Through testing, it became clear that the biomaterial technology platform they created had other uses such as skin repair or cosmetic filling. In 2019, with the momentum of a New Venture Challenge victory, Jeanne and Corey Neu officially began TissueForm!
While working in the Neu Soft Tissue Bioengineering Lab, Jeanne focused specifically on how mechanical environments affect cells across a broad scale of humans and animals. She became interested in tissue engineering and was passionate about developing materials to repair cartilage in damaged knees. Through her research, Jeanne realized the scaffolds they were creating in the lab could be commercialized and the biomaterial platform could be applied to other areas of the human body. Her team continued researching and developing the material, and in 2019, TissueForm was born!
TissueForm produces tissue-based biomaterials to address clinical problems in plastic surgery, orthopedics, regenerative medicine, and 3D-bioprinting. Their core competency is the design and fabrication of acellular natural biomaterials composed of cross-linkable tissue and protein components, which are easily delivered and formed to mimic the natural tissues found in our bodies. TissueForm’s platform technology allows them to source and process different types of tissues such as skin or cartilage, to deliver a tissue-specific material for volumetric repair. Tissueform is currently developing three main products.
Their leading clinical-grade product is a dermal filler, NatruDermeTM, for cosmetic use on scars, wrinkles, and other facial reconstructions or deformities. NatruDermeTM is an all-natural, tissue-based biomaterial, meaning it does not contain plastics or synthetic materials of any kind!
The company’s second product is a cartilage repair scaffold, NatruLageTM. NatruLageTM is still in the early research and development stages, and is currently being tested for effectiveness in a year-long goat study, however, the TissueForm team believes it has great future potential!
Tissueform’s final product, NatruGelTM, is a research-grade biomaterial that can be used as an ink for 3D printing biological scaffolds to study cellular behavior. NatruGelTM provides a scaffold to support cells and provide tissue signals that are difficult to replicate outside of the body. TissueForm plans to sell the inks to existing 3D bioprinting companies while exploring the potential to create a realistic tissue-on-a-chip for drug testing or discovery to limit the use of animal testing in the drug screening pathway.
All of TissueForm’s scientific and business development is led by Jeanne and Corey Neu. The duo also has a strong network of business, legal, regulatory, and industry advisors formed from relationships made in the supportive CU Boulder and broader Colorado startup environment!
Experience with NVC
Jeanne participated in CU Boulder's New Venture Challenge (NVC) in 2019. She won the Women’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, R&D track category, and third place overall! She received funding from NVC that allowed her to advance TissueForm’s technology towards regulatory approval and commercialization.
Upcoming Projects and Events
Currently, Jeanne and TissueForm have a design freeze on the NatruDermeTM product. They are in the process of transitioning to a certified location to manufacture their products. This is a critical step for TissueForm and will allow the company to complete FDA-defined preclinical studies, eventually leading to FDA approval and Tissueform’s ability to commercialize NatruDermeTM.
The TissueForm team is currently focused on raising seed capital in order to achieve the milestone of transitioning to an FDA-certified manufacturing facility and completing an IDE, the first major hurdle of regulatory approval.
Jeanne found herself struggling to balance the demands of completing her Ph.D. while also moving forward with the TissueForm technology, especially during a pandemic where access to the lab was very limited. She comments,
“In the beginning, performing and advancing my research also moved the technology for the company forward, but it got to a point where those two things split, and I needed to split my time and focus as well. Figuring out how to balance both was very difficult, but I think it was a good exercise and I managed to get through it. It also made me appreciate all of the time I have to dedicate to TissueForm now!”
Advice for Current Students
Jeanne provides the following advice for students,
“I know networking can sound intimidating or overwhelming a lot of the time, but it’s important to talk with people about what it is that you’re doing. There might be a person you have a conversation with that knows someone in the industry who could be willing to help out. I am especially learning that networking can be done in a more casual, nonchalant way with someone you happen to meet at a barbeque or coffee shop. Just make sure that you’re transparent while networking, and share the things you’re struggling with, not just the parts of your company that are going great, because you never know who’s going to be able to help you out or provide advice.”
To contact Jeanne, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org