Founder Series: Steven Hanley of MediBeacon


The makers of proprietary, non-invasive, real-time monitoring systems for kidney function, gastrointestinal permeability and other light-activated diagnostics, MediBeacon, is a name to know in the STL BioTech sector. MediBeacon acquired Mannheim Pharma & Diagnostics, a German life science company last month and raised $22 million just last year.

We spoke with Founder Steven Hanley about the company’s creation, growth and how he was drawn to working in the life sciences sector.

You have immense experience in leading global and complex pharmaceutical and medical companies; what is it about this sector that drew you to it?

As compared to pure business-to-business model, the Pharma/Device sector allows me to have a direct impact on helping improve patient’s lives.

MediBeacon is based on technology that was spun out of Mallinckrodt, a subsidiary of Covidien, can you walk through that process and the road to being an independent company?

When the decision at Covidien was made not to invest in the optical diagnostic program, Dr. Rick Dorshow and I were able to acquire the intellectual property and assets to form MediBeacon in 2012. With the help of Terry Stern, our VP of business development, we negotiated the terms of the acquisition, built the remaining part of our initial team and raised $5 million in capital to demonstrate the product worked in humans.

Though Rick and I both worked at Covidien for 18 years, the process to form the company and finalize the terms was not without some sleepless nights.

We secured an additional $22 million in staged financing in 2015 from Pansend Life Sciences in New York. We have several technology platforms and the latest financing gives us the fuel to launch our renal program in the US and Europe and make substantial progress with gastrointestinal and other monitoring initiatives.

What is the toughest aspect of working in the pharma/medical sector?

The regulatory hurdles for approval can be daunting, and the attention to detail and understanding of latest expectations by country and region of the world can be challenging.

What’s going on with MediBeacon right now? Any new updates?

We have two recent developments. First, MediBeacon recently received FDA clearance to start our next human trial for our renal function-monitoring system.

Secondly, we just completed the acquisition of Mannheim Pharma & Diagnostics, a life science company based in Mannheim, Germany. This acquisition moves us into the animal

health space with some tremendous miniaturized technology and also provides us an initial footprint for research development and sales in Europe.

What are the goals you have for MediBeacon, looking to the future?

Our goal is to establish the new gold standard for evaluating kidney function globally. This system is expected to be of tremendous value to patients with kidney disease.

We also aspire to bring non-invasive monitoring—using light and our proprietary biocompatible fluorescent tracer agents and compounds—to other human health applications.

What is some of the best professional advice you’ve ever received or given?

Treat people how you would like to be treated and do not be afraid to make a decision, because no decision is also a decision.

Who is another founder or professional, local or not, that you admire and why?

I have great admiration for Tom Melzer and the RiverVest team as well as Bill Schmidt and the Cultivation Capital organization. Both organizations tell it like it is and will not hesitate to help St Louis entrepreneurs whether they invest in their ventures or not.

How do you wind down in your off time?

Though my skills are declining quickly, I still play basketball twice a week. The rest of my time is spent with my wife and five kids at one of their sporting or school events.