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Merck Selects Pepper Bio for Inaugural Digital Sciences Studio Cohort

Joining the cohort in Cambridge, MA, Pepper will receive direct funding and mentorship from Merck and associated partners to advance its bioplatform focused on transomics.

Boston – WEBWIRE

“Merck is one of the world’s premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical companies,” said CEO and co-founder Jon Hu.

Pepper Bio announced that Merck (NYSE: MRK) selected it for the inaugural Merck Digital Sciences Studio (MDSS) cohort, along with eight other early-stage biomedical startups, from a pool of 152 applicants. The program commenced in November to fuel innovations for drug discovery and development.

“Merck is one of the world’s premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical companies,” said CEO and co-founder Jon Hu. “Our place in this cohort validates our technology’s potential to advance pharma R&D innovation for target identification, lead discovery, pre-clinical development, clinical development, and more.”

MDSS is a collaboration between Merck and the New Jersey Innovation Institute, with investments from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Northpond Ventures, and McKesson Ventures. The accelerator provides direct investment from Merck, access to powerful Azure Cloud computing, and technology support provided by Microsoft for Startups. Additionally, participating companies are provided access to collaborate with discovery and clinical scientists at Merck for pilots, where appropriate.

Pepper intends to expand upon its proprietary transomic bioplatform through the program. The platform – which integrates phosphoproteomic data with genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data to provide functional, causal, and global perspectives on biological function – supports the development of oncological, neurological, and inflammatory disease therapies.

Pepper joins Andson Biotech, Deep Forest Sciences,, Magna Labs, IndyGeneUS AI, SciMar ONE, Stem Pharm, and Perceiv AI in the 10-month accelerator program. The program will begin with the company’s exploration of where its technology can augment Merck’s existing focus areas with the goal of transitioning into a pilot project with Merck.

This announcement comes on the heels of Pepper’s commencement of a commercial contract with a top 10 global pharmaceutical company. This year, Pepper has also leveraged its technology in collaboration with Stanford’s Felsher Lab to identify and validate novel therapeutic targets for hepatocellular carcinoma and lymphoma and through a commercial partnership with a CNS-focused pharma company regarding clinical stage compound characterization.

To learn more about Pepper, please visit

About Pepper Bio

Pepper Bio is the world’s first transomics drug discovery company, leveraging its proprietary transomics database and analytics to identify promising first-in-class therapies, rediscover new uses for existing therapeutics, and rescue drugs in development on a path toward failure. Founded in 2020 and based in Boston, Massachusetts, Pepper Bio is led by co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jon Hu, and co-founder and Chief Science Officer, Samantha Dale Strasser, Ph.D.

About Merck

Merck, also known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, strives to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company through a diverse and inclusive global workforce. For over 130 years, Merck has been using the power of leading-edge science to deliver innovative health solutions to save and improve the health and wellness of people and animals worldwide with important medicines and vaccines.

About New Jersey Innovation Institute

New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a 501c3 subsidiary of NJIT, combines the resources of the university, strong industry and government relationships, and proven methods to drive innovation and deliver transformative products and services that make a direct impact on the economy and the health and welfare of its participants. To achieve this, NJII is organized into four divisions that help turn ideas into workable solutions: healthcare, entrepreneurship, defense and homeland security, and professional and corporate education. More at

About Northpond Ventures

Northpond Ventures is a multi-billion-dollar science-driven venture capital firm based in Cambridge, MA; San Francisco, CA; and Bethesda, MD. Northpond has consistently been named one of the most active lead life science investors by both Crunchbase and Silicon Valley Bank. It is deeply engaged in the academic ecosystem, having founded The Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation at Harvard’s Wyss Institute; launched the MIT-Northpond Program - Advancing Life Science & Engineering Innovation; and sponsored a prize for women entrepreneurs at MIT. It has led or co-led over 60 financings over the past several years and sits on the board of the vast majority of these businesses. Learn more at

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