Funding / Health / Hiring / Life sciences / Startups

Penn spinout BlueWhale Bio emerges from stealth mode with $18M seed round

Cofounded by celebrated researcher and oncologist Dr. Carl June, the startup is developing technology to make cell and gene therapy more accessible to patients.

Penn trustee Osagie Imasogie (left) interviews Penn biotech veteran Carl June during Philly Tech Week 2018. ( photo)

BlueWhale Bio, a University of Pennsylvania spinout cofounded by the celebrated oncologist and researcher Dr. Carl June, has emerged from stealth mode with the announcement of an $18 million seed fund raise.

The round was led by Danaher Ventures and other investors include Novalis LifeSciences and Marshall Wace.

BlueWhale Bio is focused on developing technology that will make cell and gene therapies more accessible to the patients who need them. The Cira Centre-based company will be led by CEO Peter Keller, who was previously the CEO of Monopteros Therapeutics and has held leadership roles at other life sciences companies.

June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, and James Riley, a professor of microbiology at Penn, founded the company and collaborated to develop BlueWhale’s technology.

June is well known in the cell and gene therapy field for developing Kymriah, a CAR T-cell therapy for advanced blood cancer. This drug went on to become the first CAR T-cell therapy approved by the FDA.

“This is an exciting time in cell therapy. With an increased focus on growth and adoption, cell-based therapies can become the next pillar of medicine,” June said in a written statement. “I am thrilled that together we are looking to develop and commercialize a new cell therapy platform to improve patient care and save lives.”

BlueWhale Bio is the first company to emerge from the Danaher Ventures Pioneer Program, which supports tech founders and startups through investing, industry knowledge and networking.

BlueWhale Bio did not immediately respond to’s requests for comment about growth plans and details about the company’s technology.

The company is hiring for roles including lab managers, scientists and process development technicians.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: University of Pennsylvania
People: Carl June

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