Fierce Madness

#FierceMadness: The Best Biotech Name Tournament—A champion is CROWNED

Voting has now closed. 

April 9: This one may have been written in the stars. Specifically, our sun. Werewolf Therapeutics was able to take advantage of a moment of darkness during the solar eclipse to rally the vote, triumphing over Obsidian Therapeutics to become the Best Name in Biotech.   

"It is a pleasure and an honor to take home the victory for #FierceMadness, and hats-off to the stiff competition in every bracket," Werewolf's Chief Business Officer Ellen Lubman told Fierce Biotech. "Our journey to this moment has been illuminated by the unwavering support of our investors, investigators and the courage of our patients who participate in our clinical trials."

"While lighthearted, this competition spotlights the creativity and passion that our field has in bringing effective and innovative treatments to patients everywhere," Lubman said. "A name captures the vision, the focus, and the uniqueness of a company... a bold statement of intent for audiences and competitors alike to remember. We continue to hunt for safer, more effective cancer immunotherapies for patients everywhere. Remember our name, Werewolf Therapeutics–a metaphor for an our INDUKINE molecules and their transformation within the tumor microenvironment like the Werewolf’s transformation in the light of a full moon–follow our studies, and join us as we work to transform the treatment paradigm for cancer patients."

Here is your final bracket:   


Number four seed Werewolf began in our competition against Lykos Therapeutics, another wolf-adjacent biotech. In the second round, Werewolf toppled Siren Biotechnology, a tough competitor to advance to the Sweet 16. There, Werewolf dispatched with NightHawk—a tough fight, mind you.  

Then in the Elite 8 Werewolf defeated Orca Bio, disappointing the whale overlords and sending a shiver of fear down my spine.  

There was no stopping Werewolf from that point. The company quickly waved away Moonwalk (the company knows a thing or two about moons, obviously) and then arrived in the championship matchup the clear favorite.  

But Obsidian put up a fight. The number five seed had a surprising journey through the tournament. The company toppled favorite after favorite—including Galapagos, which seemed to be a shoe-in during the Sweet 16, and then Jazz Pharma, which boasted a massive following throughout the rounds—to get into the championship.  

I don’t think we can call them an underdog, but they certainly came from behind to put a bit of fear in the mythical dog Werewolf.  

We thank everyone for playing along with us over these past three weeks. This has been a fun journey in biotech branding. Congratulations to the Werewolf team, we’re howling for you! –Annalee Armstrong 

April 6: Have you ever wondered why werewolves howl at the moon? Well perhaps it was to warn off the astronauts up there because Werewolf Therapeutics has successfully fought off Moonwalk Biosciences to advance into the championship round of Fierce Madness: The Best Biotech Name Tournament.

Here's your new bracket: 

Fierce Biotech Final 4 bracket

Werewolf took the matchup with 63% of the vote, or 246, compared to 37% and 101 for Moonwalk. I have to say this isn’t altogether surprising. Werewolves—real or not—are objectively awesome. Moonwalk might as well be walking on the sun.

On the other half of the competition, we had a unique matchup between Obsidian Therapeutics and Jazz Pharma. I was never sure at any point in the voting which one would come out on top here. Jazz really rallied the voters in the earlier rounds, propelling it past some heavy hitters like Nutcracker Therapeutics and Arrakis Therapeutics.

Seriously, Jazz managed to take down the sandworm? I was shocked. SHOCKED I tell you.

But unfortunately, we won’t be saving the last dance for Jazz Pharma. The company has been defeated 238-169 by Obsidian, the little volcanic rock that could. Obsidian snagged 58% of the vote, meaning both sides were pretty decisive. That's a mandate rarely seen in these United States.

That means we are moving on to our final round. Obsidian vs. Werewolf. Rock vs. Mythical dog, I guess. Let's talk a bit about each company. 


werewolf Tx logo

Werewolf Therapeutics

The biotech debuted in November 2019 with $56 million and a mission to reduce the toxic effects of cancer-killing agents. Just under two years later, the company leaped onto the Nasdaq with a $120 million IPO to push a pipeline of shape-shifting cytokine drugs into the clinic. 

Just this week, Werewolf presented preclinical data at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting showing that IL-18 INDUKINE med WTX-518 led to tumor regressions in models. 

In fourth quarter earnings released in March, Werewolf reported that data from some early stage trials of WTX-124 are due later this year. Preliminary phase 1 data for WTX-330 is also due in the second quarter. Both are solid tumor meds. 

The company is led by Dan Hicklin, Ph.D., and had cash and cash equivalents of $134.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2023, according to the latest report.

"While we are thrilled with being in the championship and that so many people love our name, we won’t let this 'eclipse' our great work, innovative PREDATOR platform and robust INDUKINE pipeline," Werewolf's Chief Business Officer Ellen Lubman told Fierce Biotech via email. "We 'lycan' this competition to all of our other endeavors at Werewolf, challenging and worthwhile."


Obsidian Therapeutics Logo

Obsidian Therapeutics

It's also been a big week for Obsidian Therapeutics, which raised $160.5 million to support the development of OBX-115 in melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Investors included Foresite Capital, Janus Henderson Investors, Novo Holdings A/S, Paradigm BioCapital, RTW Investments and many others. 

OBX-115 is an engineered tumor-derived autologous T cell immunotherapy (also known as a tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) cell therapy). 

In phase 1 data presented late last year, Obsidian revealed that the med led to a 50% objective response rate with two complete responses at 18 weeks of follow up. The disease control rate was 100%. 

Privately-held Obsidian is helmed by Madan Jagasia, M.D., who just took on the role in May 2023. 

"We are thrilled to be in the Fierce Biotech Best Name in Biotech Championship!" Jagasia told Fierce Biotech via email. "Obsidian is a volcanic glass that is used to make sharp and precise blades; our name thus reflects our approach to advancing precise, patient-specific engineered cell and gene therapies for patients with difficult-to-treat diseases. Like the diversity of obsidian sources, we value the diversity and unique talents of our people, who have recently delivered on multiple fronts, generating early clinical data in melanoma and launching a multicenter study in both melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer." 

"Our strong science, along with the agility and resilience of our team makes Obsidian what it is," the CEO concluded. "Go Obsidian!

Now that you know a bit more about Werewolf and Obsidian, it's time to cast your votes:

Voting will remain open until 11 a.m. ET on April 9. So don’t delay, act now, voting time is running out. Allow, if you’re still alive, six to eight seconds to vote for your fav. 

If you don’t cast your vote, you might as well be walking on the sun. — Annalee Armstrong (I will not apologize for the ear worm till you vote.)

April 3: Viking Therapeutics loaded up the longship, ready to attack at dawn. The warriors dispatched quickly with ProFound Therapeutics, taking an early—and huge lead in the Elite 8.

But behind the smoldering rubble of the pillaged ProFound village arose a company sporting jazz hands and some quick steps, ready to chassé Viking out of the competition. That’s right—Jazz Pharma has won the three-way matchup.

The neuroscience and oncology pharmaceutical company, which boasts a full pipeline in solid tumors, narcolepsy, Parkinson’s disease and more, is moving on to the Final 4. The company won 344-215-197, over Viking and then ProFound, with 45% of the total vote.

Take a bow, Jazz. 

Here's the new bracket: 

Fierce Biotech Elite 8

Elsewhere, it appears that rock beats ampersand—at least in this competition. Obsidian Therapeutics topped Ampersand Biosciences 380-294, with a spread of 86.

Rain Oncology put up a good fight, but readers were out of this world for Moonwalk Biosciences, which won that match up 413-212, with the largest spread of 201.

And finally, in my favorite matchup, Werewolf Therapeutics beat Orca Bio. I’m worried this may anger the whales, so let’s keep this one quiet.

*Whispers in biotech*: Werewolf won 396-333, with a spread of 63.

*Whispers in orca*: This was beyond my control, whales. Spare me!

And now we open up voting for the Final 4. Werewolf will howl at Moonwalk, which seems very appropriate, and Jazz will dance off with Obsidian. Just two polls to pick this time around, folks. Get your votes in below, rally support for the finalists and share on socials! 

Voting will close at 10 a.m. ET Friday, April 5, with results posted later that day. Voting will then open for the Championship matchup, with the final winner revealed April 9. 

And a reminder to vote in our sister publication tournaments as well: Fierce Pharma's drug name tournament is here and Fierce Healthcare's buzzwords tournament is here— Annalee Armstrong

March 29: So my bracket is officially busted. I did about as well in this March Madness bracket as I do when my husband makes me participate in the Armstrong family competition by asking me for picks that I absentmindedly choose based on which team has the cutest animal mascot.

ocelot, cat, kitty
The best kitty.  (Leonardo Prest Mercon Ro/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

And I’m not going to lie, it was my love of the humble ocelot that took me down. But I am wondering if you, dear readers, are familiar with the majesty of the ocelot. How could you vote this majestic kitty cat down? Look at that little nose!

But you know what, I get it. You chose Orca Bio. I too am scared of the yacht destroying ocean superpowers and am willing to give them this one to ensure safe passage across the Strait of Georgia the next time I take a ferry to Vancouver Island to visit my aunt Barb.

Orca triumphed 461-168, or with 73% of the vote, and a spread of 293, so it's a decisive win. 

Here’s the new bracket:

Fierce Biotech bracket Elite 8

We had another upset in the matchup between #2 seed Nutcracker Therapeutics and #11 Jazz Pharma. A lot of social media chatter seemed to suggest Nutcracker was going to go far, but they’ve been defeated in the Sweet 16 340-268. I guess some people really do like jazz after all.

Werewolf Therapeutics fought neck and neck with NightHawk Bio before pulling away in the final hours to take the match 317-293. 

Ampersand Bio scored the largest win spread with a 455-159 triumph over Fierce Biotech’s favorite biotech Tyra Biosciences. We’re sad to see Tyra go.

Here’s your complete list of winners:

During this round we asked for you to pick a wildcard company, which were selected from the write-ins in the first round. Viking Therapeutics emerged victorious with 260 votes, or 44%, over Crossbow Therapeutics, Scholar Rock and Zevra Therapeutics.

I’m happy to see Viking enter the fray (and if I’m being honest, should have had them in here to begin with). I suspect the biotech, which has a buzzworthy GLP-1, may be fielding a lot of calls from some of the top pharmas, which have been ravenous to acquire weight loss biotechs. So we may never get a chance to vote on Viking’s truly awesome name if we don't do it now. So Skol to our newest Fierce Madness company! Viking will face off against ProFound Therapeutics and Jazz Pharma in the next round. 

Voting has now closed. —Annalee Armstrong

March 27: We’re back with another exciting round of biotech name action. We had a photo finish, folks. As I began to tally up the votes last night, we had Pretzel Therapeutics and Bicycle Therapeutics neck in neck, separated by a single vote, at times tied.

By dawn, Bicycle had pulled ahead, winning the matchup in the Daily Life bracket 340 to 334. A hard fought battle, indeed.

Moonwalk Biosciences had the highest number of votes in the round with 497, meaning BrainChild Bio had just 173 votes. This was the biggest win spread by far with 324 votes separating the two companies.  

Here are your winners for the Round of 32:

Fierce Biotech Bracket 32

We didn't have many huge upsets in terms of seeding. Number 2 seed Ocelot Bio is advancing with 381 votes to top Chrysalis BioTherapeutics, which put up a strong fight with 292. Another 2 seed Nutcracker beat number 10 Tune Therapeutics 401-276. 

The accidentally low seeded NightHawk Biosciences topped Red Queen Therapeutics by 150 votes in the Folklore bracket. Again, I deeply apologize for my errors early on that meant NightHawk is appearing as an underdog. 

Somehow birds have had an outsized influence on this competition. Case in point, in an early planning session for this project I had the idea of AI generating battle images for each matchup. Then I realized I had 64 companies to start with and I scrapped the idea. But not before I created one single image. Today, I get to use it because Lava Therapeutics and Galapagos did in fact match up in the Round of 32.

penguin lava.png
If it's not immediately clear, this image was generated by AI.  (Fierce Biotech/AI/Annalee Armstrong)

And with this I’m here to announce that Galapagos has come out on top. Clearly, the Galapagos penguin has never lost a game of The Floor is Lava. Galapagos won 377-313, with a spread of 64 votes to move on to our Sweet 16. Somebody get Lee Corso a penguin head. Oh wait that’s football, isn’t it?

Sidenote: I just entered “Football announcer Lee Corso wearing a penguin mascot head on a basketball court surrounded by fire and lava” into Photoshop’s generative AI and the results will forever haunt my nightmares. Setting aside that it couldn’t generate a picture of Lee Corso at all, it doesn’t really seem to know what a basketball court is.

Lee Corso penguin
If it's not immediately clear, this image was generated by AI.  (Fierce Biotech/AI/Annalee Armstrong)

Moving on. Here’s the complete list of winners:

We also asked during this round for you to tell us what you would name your biotech. We had some awesome entries, some that made me giggle. Others that made me realize how profoundly nerdy you all are. Two obscure entries I loved were Birman Therapeutics after the Birman cat breed and Jacaranda Pharma, for the tree. I had no idea either of those existed, but I’m glad I do now.

However, I am very thrilled to report that Jacaranda Biosciences does exist. It’s a hearing loss biotech based out of San Francisco. Birman Tx is still available ... wink wink.

Whoever submitted BiBiBio as your biotech name, you are responsible for me having N Sync stuck in my head for the week. I had just gotten it out of there after my kid got through the latest Trolls movie last week. Thanks for that.

I also loved Bubbles Biotech, Cash Cow Bio, Narwhal Bio, Bayou Bio and Suess BioTx. But there were so many fun ones. So I turned them into a word cloud. Hover over the colored entries to see the explanation for each one.

And with that, we launch voting in our Sweet 16 round. Voting will remain open through March 29 at 6:30 a.m. ET for this one. Keep track of the tournament across Fierce Biotech's socials with the hashtag #BiotechBracket. 

A reminder of the schedule:

  • First Round (64): March 20-21
  • Second Round (32): March 25-26
  • Sweet 16: March 27-28
  • Elite 8: April 1-2
  • Final 4: April 3-4
  • Championship: April 5-9

And a reminder to vote in our sister publication tournaments as well: Fierce Pharma's drug name tournament is here and Fierce Healthcare's buzzwords tournament is here— Annalee Armstrong

March 24: I’m still reeling from the loss of Tentarix in round 1 but the show must go on. I should, however, note that I saw some (absolutely correct) criticism that NightHawk should have been a higher seed and admittedly yes, they should have.

I got a little carried away with the long gangly birds, which I identify with as a tall person, and seeded them according to my personal bird preference. That’s what you get when you ask a Canadian who’s never watched a single game of professional basketball in her life to run a joke March Madness bracket.

Anyway, moving on. We’ve got plenty of excitement for the Round of 32, with some strong names taking to the bench: Arrakis, Nutcracker, Pretzel and Tyra. Obsidian, HiFiBio and Werewolf. All great.

Members of the samesies bracket have dispatched with their doppelgangers and can now move forward on the strength of their names. We have always liked HiFiBio around here. Something about those capitals makes it seem like the company is yelling at you.

So let’s get on with it. Voting is now open for the Round of 32. Here's your bracket: 

FBt Name Bracket 2024 Round of 32.png

The fine print: To vote, click on the Crowd Signal survey below. You don't have to share any details, just vote. You will get one vote in each poll. Voting for the rounds will be open for two days, closing at 12:01 a.m. ET on March 27. 

In the Round of 32, we’re asking you to write in what you would name your own biotech and why. We can’t wait to see your responses and will share the best ones (we will not post any identifying details, so go crazy!). 

We will post the final results here on this page before noon after each poll closes. Keep track of the tournament across Fierce Biotech's socials with the hashtag #BiotechBracket. — Annalee Armstrong

March 22: The Round of 64 results are in. We've crunched the numbers. We've done the analysis. Consulted a team of esteemed and not real judges. Here are your winners:

FBt Name Bracket 2024 Round of 32.png

Click here to view the bracket

Now I know that the seeding in this tournament was 100% made up but I had Tentarix going far, only to be taken down by Ocelot Bio, which is my pick for the championship.

But you, dear readers, had other ideas. You defeated the #1 seed Tentarix in favor of NightHawk Biosciences with 60% of the vote in the first round. How dare you? I’m reporting of course from Charlottesville, Virginia, where we understand the sting of a #1 seed going down in the first round.

And Red Queen beating Renaissance by 59 votes? I thought for sure the Venn diagram of Beyoncé listeners and biotech was just a circle.

Max Bayer will also be sad to hear that his namesake company, Bayer, has been defeated in the first round. He defied reason, all of his colleagues and even the very official and important rules of the tournament itself to sponsor the German maker of Advil. In the end, Fierce Biotech’s unofficial biotech Tyra Biosciences—which has had us on more than one occasion ask our web development team why we can’t use a GIF of Tyra Banks as a headline image for an article—has taken down the storied 100-year-old pharmaceutical giant 574-411. 

Now that is #Fierce.

Kite Pharma had the largest win spread, beating out Vir Biotechnology by 595 votes to take the first round in the Daily Life bracket. Kite also had the highest number of votes in the entire competition with 788. Kapoose Creek got the lowest with just 245. The Fierce team loved that biotech name and saw it going far. Bummer. 

We had a near tie in the Nature bracket with Chrysalis Biotherapeutics edging out Heron Therapeutics by just five votes. Galapagos had a pretty resounding win over Terremoto Biosciences, taking the match up 735 to 249. 

Here's the full list of winners: 

We also had some incredible biotech names written in for the open-ended question. Honestly, Skunkworx Bio? Can’t believe I forgot that one. Foghorn, Caribou, Viking, Rhino and Hookipa? All great. We had many—and I mean MANY—suggestions of Zevra Therapeutics. Not sure if the entire staff over there is campaigning but we're here for it. 

One odd suggestion that sent me down a Google rabbit hole was Potato Peelers From Pluto. That does not appear to be an actual biotech, which means that it’s available. So to the venture firms out there (and this is especially for you, Flagship Pioneering), I know you’re always in need of new company names. I better see a release for Potato Peelers From Pluto Biosciences in my inbox ASAP. I’ve got tens of cents to pitch toward that series A.

The second round of voting will open on Monday, March 25. Check back on this page to get your votes in. Keep track of the tournament across Fierce Biotech's socials with the hashtag #BiotechBracket.

A reminder of the schedule:

  • First Round (64): March 20-21
  • Second Round (32): March 25-26
  • Sweet 16: March 27-28
  • Elite 8: April 1-2
  • Final 4: April 3-4
  • Championship: April 5-9

And a reminder to vote in our sister publication tournaments as well: Fierce Pharma's drug name tournament is here and Fierce Healthcare's buzzwords tournament is here— Annalee Armstrong

Click here to download your own Biotech Name bracket

Mar 20: We were making puns out of the many biotech names we come across every day on our Fierce Biotech chat when, suddenly, we realized we should take the discussion public.

And, with no seconds to lose, we launched into Fierce Madness: The Best Biotech Name Tournament, piggybacking, of course, on the annual March Madness basketball tournament. Coming up with a list of 64 names was insanely easy—from Tentarix to Biomissle to Arrakis, this industry has some of the most creative ideas and branding out there. But which one is the best?

We now turn to you, dear readers, to settle the debate for us. Is it Ocelot? HiFiBio? Lava or Intergalactic? How about Ampersand? Red Queen or Glox?

Within our bracket is another important debate to be had: Which biotechs with nearly the exact same name are the best? In one of our six brackets we have the battle of the Samesies, biotechs that have confused us from the day they launched out of stealth.

Picture this: You’re searching for news on Generation Bio. You type it into the search box at What follows is this: Deep in a server room, somewhere in America, the little robots that run the search receive a jolt of electricity. They wake up. Generation Bio, you say? Are you sure you don’t mean Generate:Biomedicines? One of their little metal heads twitches. It can’t even. Another keels over. Paw twitching (I picture them as little metal rats for some reason). A third blows up entirely.

The first one, with a little smoke coming out its ears, returns the result: Generate:Biomedicines and also … Generation Bio.

So this bracket is going to settle that debate once and for all. Is it ProfoundBio or ProFound Therapeutics? Which Bridge is the best bio? You get to decide.

Our remaining categories, save for one, are a bit more self-explanatory: Folklore, Animals, The Arts, Deep Space, Daily Life and Nature. And the last one, What’s in a Name?, combines a few more traditional—shall we say biotech-y—names with some inside jokes from the Fierce Biotech team.

We kick things off today with our Round of 64. 

The fine print: To vote, click on the Crowd Signal survey below. You don't have to share any details, just vote. You will get one vote in each poll. Voting for the rounds will be open for two days, closing at 12:01 a.m. ET the following day. You’ll get a few extra days to vote and rally support for the Championship game. 

In the Round of 64, we've opened it up to you, readers, to suggest some companies we may have forgotten. If we get some good ones, we'll play 'em in as Wild Cards. 

We will post the results here on this page before noon after each poll closes. Keep track of the tournament across Fierce Biotech's socials with the hashtag #BiotechBracket.

  • First Round (64): March 20-21
  • Second Round (32): March 25-26
  • Sweet 16: March 27-28
  • Elite 8: April 1-2
  • Final 4: April 3-4
  • Championship: April 5-9

Oh, and our sister publications are also getting in on the #FierceMadness, too. Check out Fierce Pharma's drug name tournament here and Fierce Healthcare's buzzwords tournament here— Annalee Armstrong