Eric Michael David ’96

Tech Matters

Fall 2013

In a relatively short amount of time, scientists at Organovo can create functional human liver tissue using a 3D bioprinter. The company’s co-founder and chief strategy officer Eric Michael David ’96 J.D., ’02 M.D. admits that Organovo’s work has been compared to something that would be seen on Star Trek or other shows about the distant future.

“It’s a very cool technology, and it sounds very science fiction,” David explains, “but [we are careful to explain] what it can do now, what it can do in two to five years, and after that.” Currently, pharmaceutical companies want to use the bioprinted tissue to test new drugs in clinical trials prior to human testing, and David says that Organovo’s long-term goal of printing fully composed, functional organs is about a decade away.

A graduate of both Columbia Law School and Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, David did not initially plan on studying medicine. He notes that a Law School seminar on the legal issues involved in organ transplantation taught by Professor Harold S. H. Edgar helped inspire his interest in the field.

“I looked around and saw so much cutting-edge technology and was fascinated by the questions dealing with how you bring that to market, commercialize it, get it out of the lab, and make the world a better and more productive place,” he says.

David went on to serve as the assistant chief resident in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital before working as an associate partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. He co-founded Organovo in 2007.

Now, as the only lawyer among a staff of 35, David balances a wide variety of responsibilities, including overseeing the company’s intellectual property filings and its business development efforts. “What we’re doing is truly at the intersection of science, business, and the law,” he says. “Wearing all these different hats really keeps me sharp.”