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BioConvergence, Eli Lilly, MeadWestvaco, University of Central Florida, Central Florida Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties

BioConvergence Expands Bloomington Facility, with Lilly Partnership in Mind
BioConvergence, a Bloomington, Ind., contract services organization, has added 21,000 square feet to its headquarters and hired 15 new staffers as part of a 10-year, “multi-million” dollar partnership with Eli Lilly, which is headquartered in Indianapolis.
Under the deal, BioConvergence will provide global materials management services for Lilly products. Long term, BioConvergence expects to create 170 jobs and additional facility expansions, CEO Alisa Wright said in a press release.
Bill Heath, Eli Lilly’s vice president of product research and development, said in the release the partnership would cut the cost of the company’s drug development pipeline and reflected Lilly’s transition from a fully integrated pharmaceutical company to a fully integrated pharmaceutical network.

MeadWestvaco Eyes Biotech Among New Uses for East Edisto, SC, TRACT
A business park occupied by an unidentified biotechnology firm is among new uses envisioned by MeadWestvaco for a 72,000-acre timber tract along the Edisto River, about 15 miles east of Charleston, SC, according to a conceptual master plan unveiled by the paper manufacturer on March 25.
MeadWestvaco said the business park is one of several uses it wants to develop during its first phase of development, proposed for the northern end of the tract in Dorchester County. The first phase, which would take about two decades to complete, also includes three residential and commercial "villages" similar in size to or slightly smaller than a nearby 2,000-acre development.
MeadWestvaco said the three villages would be "more than places to live.”
"The intention is for them to be places to work, play, worship and learn," MeadWestvaco said in a statement. "It calls for quality schools at all levels — elementary through high school, as well as adult education opportunities and institutions of higher learning."
One such institution could be a community college that the company did not identify, except to say it had expressed interest in obtaining land for a new campus, the Post and Courier of Charleston reported.
MeadWestvaco hopes to submit development plans early next year to the governments of Dorchester County and nearby Charleston County. The company likely won't break ground for another three to five years, during which it will "lock down" specifically how the land can be developed, said John A. Luke Jr., MeadWestvaco's chairman and chief executive officer, at a public meeting where MeadWestvaco announced its plans.
At that meeting, MeadWestvaco did not say how many people could one day live in the East Edisto development. Ken Seeger, president of MeadWestvaco's community development and land-management group, said construction will be based on regional growth patterns, not speculation, adding: “East Edisto will only grow in response to market demands.”
MeadWestvaco said it would serve as the main developer for East Edisto, meaning it would install the roads and other infrastructure and oversee how the various phases are built out by other companies.

Construction Set to Start on UCF Medical School at Orlando’s Lake Nona Community
With construction set to start in April on a new medical school for the University of Central Florida at the Lake Nona master-planned community in Orlando, Fla., commercial real estate professionals at a panel talk of the Central Florida Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties or NAIOP offered a sober assessment of the region’s life sciences prospects, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The med school would be the third building to rise within UCF’s campus at Lake Nona; construction is in progress on the other two buildings, which would be occupied by UCF’s Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences and the Burnham Institute for Medical Research.
"Orlando is not on the map yet," said Norma Sutton, an associate and bioscience specialist with NAI Realvest, a commercial brokerage in Orlando. While the region has opportunities because "we have the big boxes" in Burnham and the adjacent UCF medical school, she said: "Now we need wet labs, incubators and other resources."

Ron Rogg of CB Richard Ellis said long-term prospects for medical-and-research development in the area are good, but "I think the start will be slower than some might like, or expect” due to the global credit crisis sidelining many potential developers and investors

The global credit crunch is slowing investment, he said, and though many equity investors have cash to put into property or buildings, "they are sitting on the sidelines," waiting for debt markets to stabilize.

But the panel’s moderator — John Fremstad, vice president of technology development for bioOrlando, a life sciences economic development effort of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission — said the pace of recent activity left him more hopeful: “Things are moving at a quicker rate now.”

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.