Dana Angeles, NellOne Intern Summer 2023

[Knoxville, TN] August 2023: NellOne is a small biopharmaceutical start-up right at the border of Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. They are working on a protein that has amazing potential for tissue regeneration and healing. Along the incredible scientific feats occurring there, everyone I met was compassionate, kind, and truly enthusiastic about their work with NellOne. I was excited to join a team of people who genuinely wanted to help me learn and improve my research, laboratory, and scientific writing skills.  

My first day at NellOne, Bem gave me a tour of the NellOne lab and of Oak Ridge, which would be my home for the next two months. I remember thinking how serene the tree-lined road leading up to the lab felt, and how excited I was to try the restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Interning at a biopharmaceutical lab was a new experience for me. I had planned for this to be my first step into a new field, as I had mostly worked in animal facilities in the past. Trading in my field gear for a lab gown felt satisfying right away. The work I was doing at NellOne challenged me at times but improved my research skills and work ethic. Every Friday morning an all-team meeting is held, where we present what we have been working on and discuss future tasks. At first these meetings felt a little daunting considering I was presenting my work to the entire company, but I eventually enjoyed being able to hear about what was progressing and what big plans were being made for the future. In my three months working at NellOne, I helped with bioinformatics research, pharmaceutical research, aided with lab experiments, and even got to have my name on a paper that will be submitted to prestigious academic journals. Everything I did there felt important and useful to the company, which in turn felt rewarding to me. 

Along with all the scientific work I contributed to, I must mention my wonderful experience living in the Oak Ridge/Knoxville area for two months. I enjoyed the lush green landscapes at every turn and the mirrored lakes and rivers that traverse the area. The dense foliage is a stark but pleasant difference to the dry, rocky scenery I’m used to in California and Colorado. During the weekends I explored the area, tried local restaurants, and shopped at small gift shops. For food I recommend Sticky Rice Café for their crunchy rice dish, Hey Bear Café and the Dragon food truck outside for a bubble tea and popcorn chicken, and a sno-cone with ice cream at Pelican’s SnoBalls to cool off on a hot day. For sights, I would say the Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-do. If I return, I’d like to see what fun can be had at Dollywood, and take the 2-hour drive to Ashville, NC to stay for a weekend. All in all, I felt like two months was a good amount of time to experience Tennessee’s sights and culture. 

I am forever grateful to Bem and everyone at NellOne for giving me a unique, fruitful, and rewarding internship experience. I am also thankful to Launch Tennessee for providing the internship opportunity. This was an experience I will never forget, and I am glad I decided to take the leap and spend my summer in a new state. I’m excited to see what NellOne continues to accomplish. 

About NV1:  NV1 is being commercialized by NellOne for unmet inflammatory lung health market needs and licensing partnerships. NV1 is a patented variant of neural epidermal growth factor-like (NELL1) protein. NELL1 is a secreted master signaling molecule naturally expressed in bone, cartilage, brain, heart, muscle skin, gastrointestinal tract, and kidney. NELL1 promotes new tissue formation and maturation by regulating the composition of the extracellular matrix; over 15 years of basic science research have demonstrated that the endogenous properties of NELL1 can be utilized in quickening healing, balancing hyperinflammation and aggressive immune responses, and promoting regeneration in post-injury tissue damage.

NV1’s potential as a regenerative drug candidate has been shown in lung, heart, diabetic wound healing, skin, and muscle atrophy applications.

Please visit https://nell-one.com/.