While designing preclinical studies in the 1990’s, Professor Craig Ferris, then at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, was frustrated by the inherent limitations of performing brain-imaging studies on anesthetized animals. With the goal of studying animals whose brain activity was unaffected by anesthesia, he led a team that developed a set of restraints, receptors and software that enabled conscious MRI virtually identical to that used on humans.

Craig was among the leaders of a broad group of researchers who have published dozens of articles on the use of imaging in conscious animals. In 2008, with support from Northeastern University, Ekam was formed as a contract research organization to provide awake animal imaging and analysis services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms needing preclinical data most likely to translate into human experience.

As Ekam expanded, it became clear that clients needed a laboratory and service infrastructure capable of handling studies with the professionalism and standards of a commercial contract research organization. Industry veteran Mark Nedelman joined the company in 2009 to oversee this transition. Today, Ekam offers the best of both worlds-the scientific leadership normally associated with an academic laboratory, and the service standards expected of a commercial CRO.