Ascendant Dx Closes $2M Funding Round, Adds Board Members

Ascendant Dx of Fayetteville has closed a $2 million funding round and added two members to its board of directors.

Ascendant Dx, formerly known as Ascendant Diagnostics, is a portfolio company of VIC Technology Venture Development and an Innovate Arkansas client firm that has developed an early detection test for breast cancer.

Its latest funding round will help the firm conduct clinical trials and begin commercialization of its first product, MelodyDx, which analyzes the proteins found in tears to help detect breast cancer.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority and other state and private investors are included in the funding round.

Also Tuesday, Ascendant named Brigitte Piniewski and Ran Whitehead to fill two new positions on its board.

Piniewski is chief medical officer of PeaceHealth Laboratories of Vancouver, Wash., and Whitehead is the CEO of PeaceHealth. Whitehead officially will serve as a board observer. The additions bring the total number of Ascendant board members to five.

Other board members include CEO and board chairman Omid Moghadam; Dr. Steve Harms, a physician and entrepreneur from Fayetteville considered a pioneer in breast cancer imaging; and Dr. Amit Mehta, a physician/entrepreneur based in San Antonio, Texas.

Mark Boguski, founder of the Genomic Medicine Initiative at Harvard Medical School, and Isaac Kohane, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, sit on the firm's scientific advisory board.

Moghadam said the MelodyDx screening tool was designed to detect breast cancer at earlier stages.

"MelodyDx is a patent-pending biomarker panel which distinguishes differences in proteins present in human tears in order to detect breast cancer," he said. "Closing this round will will help bring this and other innovative new diagnostic tests to market, starting with our breast screening product."

Moghadam said the addition of two new board members from PeaceHealth, "an organization known for innovation in high complexity clinical diagnostics," will help Ascendant successfully introduce new screening tests to market.