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Virginia BioGENEius Challenge Winner Joins Hall of Fame

Wednesday, June 21, 2017  
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Riley Ennis, a 2011 Virginia BioGENEius Challenge winner, and International Challenge Finalist, was recognized yesterday during a plenary session of the BIO International Convention with the 2017 BioGENEius Hall of Fame Award. As a Virginia high school senior, Riley had already formed his first company, Immudicon Inc., focused on the development of a cancer vaccine based upon a novel mechanism of recruiting dendritic cells. He moved on to study cell biology at Dartmouth and was later invited to work under a Visiting Scientist agreement with Novartis. In all, he conducted impactful research at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Georgetown University, and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. These efforts culminated in two publications and a book chapter.

While at the helm of Immudicon, he drove partnerships with over 14 pharma companies. The vaccine technology has been recognized by CNN, Milken, Forbes, TEDx, Johnson & Johnson, and Bloomberg and will hopefully enter clinical trials in 2017. Riley continued to advance his business acumen by working for biotech companies such as Foundation Medicine, Syros Pharmaceuticals, and Emergent BioSolutions along with keeping financial perspectives in focus by internships with Morgan Stanley and Bridgewater.

In a transformative experience, Riley was the recipient of a Thiel Fellowship, a program created by Silicon Valley icon Peter Thiel through the Thiel Foundation. The fellowship is intended for students under the age of 23 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources to pursue their vision involving scientific research, creating a startup, or working on a social movement. Selection is a competitive process with an annual acceptance rate below 1% - more competitive than any elite university.

Today, Riley is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Freenome. Freenome is a health technology company bringing accurate, accessible and non-invasive disease screenings to enable patients and their doctors to proactively treat cancer and other diseases at their most manageable stages. Since the company’s beginning in 2014, Freenome has had a clear vision – to reinvent disease management through early detection and intervention. Over the past three years, Freenome has focused on making cancer screening and diagnostics as accurate and accessible as possible, through a fusion of machine learning, biology and computer science. Freenome just closed a $65m Series A funding round backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Polaris, Founders Fund, Innovation Endeavors among others.

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