SOMERVILLE, NJ - A 27-year-old borough resident working on his Ph.D at Rutgers University and co-owner of a cutting-edge biotech company in North Brunswick has been selected by Forbes Magazine as one of the brightest innovators in the world of science under the age of 30.
Michael Johnson is one of 600 people in 20 fields, from the arts, media, technology and other disciplines selected for the elite “Forbes 30 Under 30” list; only 4 percent of the 15,000 nominations in that demographic qualified for the listing.
Those selected are considered game changers, innovators and visionaries.
Johnson, a National Science Foundation fellow, is co-founder of Visikol, launched in March last year with partners Thomas Villani and Nick Crider to commercialize a tissue cleaning and imaging technology using a 3-D process.
The process allows scientists to view tissues in a 3D space as opposed to the traditional 2D slices. The company’s technology accomplishes this by rendering tissue transparent – a major boost for studying spatially complex diseases like Alzheimer’s.
This approach saves time, reduces structural damage to samples, and enables more information to be gathered from tissues. Visikol was originally invented to replace chloral hydrate, a controlled substance, for rendering plant tissues transparent.
The technology is already being used by 160 researchers in the US and Europe.
The partners have raised over $800,000 in venture capital and grants to fine tune their technology. The Visikol team also was named a finalist in the AUTM Venture Forum Business Plan Competition last year and was selected by the National Science Foundation for a $50,000 Innovation Corps Grant.
Johnson is CEO of Visikol and has his own lab and office at the New Jersey Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies, operated by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Route 1 in North Brunswick; the facility was designed for early stage companies in the life sciences and biotechnology.
Johnson is a graduate of Somerville High School and attended Muhlenberg College.
Forbes is an iconic American business magazine. Published bi-weekly, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, and law.
Each year, Forbes publishes several definitive lists – World’s Most Powerful People, Best States in which to do Business, the 400 Richest People, Wealthiest Athletes and others – all of which carry a measure of prestige and affirmation.