The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Latde Diagnostics Wins Lever’s Western Massachusetts Health Technology Challenge

Latde Diagnostics won $50,000 and Quaesar Therapeutics won $25,000 in Lever Innovation Grant funding after competing in Lever’s Western Mass Health Tech Challenge on Friday, March 3rd at the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst. The two startups were selected from among five finalists by a panel of expert judges.


“The five startups in this Challenge are each working to develop transformative innovations in diagnosis and therapy. The Western Mass Health Tech Challenge program helps these companies bring their innovations from the lab to the clinic,” said Jeffrey Thomas, Executive Director of Lever. 


All five startups have their origins at UMass Amherst, and have been supported by the Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS).


The Challenge is funded in part by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MSLC), an economic development investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences throughout the state. Lever and MLSC have partnered since 2016, with the Western Mass Health Tech Challenge representing the seventh in a collaborative series of acceleration programs.


MLSC CEO Kenn Turner was on hand to award the grants. State Secretary of Economic Development Yvonne Hao opened the session, with IALS Director Peter Reinhart providing welcoming remarks.


Western Massachusetts Health Technology Challenge Winners  


Latde Diagnostics is designing an affordable test to better determine antibiotic susceptibility for bloodborne pathogens, microorganisms in blood that can carry infectious diseases. 


“This is really important to help us move to the next stage and closer to saving lives. [It is] hard to imagine what we’ve been doing without IALS and Lever, “ said Latde Diagnostics CEO Emily Melzer.


Quaesar Therapeutics CEO Anujan Ramesh remarked, “This is huge. We really need money to make the idea happen, [and] we believe in the idea.” 


“Geographic equity is essential to our global leadership in the life sciences,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO Kenn Turner. “I applaud Jeffrey Thomas and the Lever team on a powerful convening that showcased the burgeoning innovation cluster that continues to take shape in Western Massachusetts.” 


Both finalists participated in a question and answer session after their presentations with the audience that included Sienna Leis of New Venture Development at MassVentures; Liz Roberts, Head of Impact Investing at Mass Mutual; and Efe Sumer Industry Strategy and Investments at Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. 


About the Institute of Applied Life Sciences 

The Institute for Applied Life Sciences was established in 2014, based on a total investment of more than $150 million from the Massachusetts Life Science Center (MLSC) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. IALS combines deep and interdisciplinary expertise from 29 departments on campus to translate fundamental research into innovations that benefit human health and well-being.


About Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is an economic development investment agency dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the life sciences in Massachusetts, home to the most verdant and productive life sciences ecosystem in the world.  Through public-private funding initiatives, the MLSC supports innovation, education, research and development, commercialization, and manufacturing activities in the fields of biopharma, medical device, diagnostics and digital health.  Since its creation in 2007, the MLSC has strategically deployed more than $900 million in Massachusetts, through a combination of grants, loans, capital infrastructure investments, tax incentives and workforce programs.  These investments have created thousands of jobs and propelled the development of new therapies, devices and scientific advancements that are improving patient health and well-being in Massachusetts and beyond.


About Lever

Founded in 2014 and based in North Adams, Mass., Lever is an economic development non-profit focused on innovation-driven job creation. Lever supports entrepreneurs with startup expertise, investment capital, investment fund, research, mentors, and access to talent. Lever has helped launch dozens of companies that have attracted more than $250M in equity investment and have created more than 300 jobs. Learn more at



Jeffrey Thomas

MLSC President Kenn Tuner with Latde CEO Emily Melzer