Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc is a publicly traded pharmaceutical company. It was originally called Microbia, Inc..
Microbia was founded by postdocs from the lab of Gerald Fink at the Whitehead Institute to commercialize approaches that had been developed in the lab to improve industrial fermentation of fungi, to genetically engineer them to produce secondary metabolites more efficiently or to produce new ones as leads for drug discovery or as products for use in industry, and to identify drug targets in fungi for antifungal drug discovery. In 2002 the company hired John Talley to lead their antifungal drug discovery efforts, which at the time were focused on identifying small molecules that could inhibit fungal invasins, along with Mark Currie who had also worked at Searle division of Monsanto with Talley, and then had gone to Sepracor, and also Richard Bailey, who had run Monsanto's nutritional business. Currie directed the efforts that led to the discovery of linaclotide, which was based on an enterotoxin produced by some strains of Escherichia coli that cause traveler’s diarrhea.
By 2004 the company had raised $99M and was preparing a Phase I trial for linaclotide. By 2006 Microbia was starting to struggle with the different challenges and expenses of drug development, along with its industrial fermentation business and drug discovery efforts, and made the decision to split in two, with "Microbia Precision Engineering" focused on industrial applications led by Bailey and Microbia focused on drug discovery and development. Tate & Lyle invested $7M in the Microbia spinout and took a board seat in 2006. Microbia changed its name to Ironwood in 2008 and shortened the name of the industrial business to Microbia.