Dr. Michael Masterman-Smith

Dr. Michael Masterman-Smith is a leading entrepreneurial scientist, cancer biologist, pharmacologist and healthcare expert. He found his initial calling to medical research while working with pediatric brain tumor patients. Seeing kids in pain and suffering led him to the lab and his fortuitous co-discovery of cancer stem cells in 2003.

As one of the first STEM trained scientists in the historic California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), he developed advanced single cell analysis technologies for precision oncology and next generation nanoelectronics for ‘smart’ lenses, consumer electronics, wearable medical devices, digital health, and applications in aerospace and aviation.

Though initially met with skepticism from the cancer community in identifying the ‘cells-of-origin’ for cancer, this research ultimately was deemed a high impact discovery by the National Cancer Institute in 2013. The discovery has led to a transformational shift in how to treat cancer and helped steer >$60 billion in global investment for better treatments for some of the most malignant and deadly cancers.
Michael has always been fascinated by the application of technology and engineering to the practice of medicine. He had the great fortune of being selected to be an inaugural STEM scientist in the historic California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) technology incubator where he specialized in ‘blue sky’ projects, inventing and moving innovative medical technologies from the lab bench to the hospital bedside. His current efforts include multidisciplinary approaches to understanding and treating pain, combating the opioid epidemic, improving clinical trials and reducing their cost, enabling precision cancer diagnostics and engineering invisible, ultralight nanoelectronics for next generation ‘smart’ contact lenses and heads up displays for pilots.
Michael was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, sits on various nonprofit and company boards, founded and runs several start-up companies and consults governments, institutions and companies on R & D, medical and healthcare initiatives.