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BioRegion Newsmakers: Jan 5, 2009

Mass. Biotech Council President Robert Coughlin Pays $10K Fine, Settles Ethics Complaint
Robert Coughlin, the president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, has paid a $10,000 civil fine to settle a State Ethics Commission complaint that he violated the state Conflict of Interest law when, as a state official, he took part in matters affecting the life sciences industry while seeking the state industry group’s top executive position.
Coughlin took the MBC helm Sept. 4, 2007, at an annual salary of $350,000, after serving eight months as undersecretary for business development within the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, in the early days of Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration. As undersecretary, Coughlin helped Patrick craft the state’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Act, a measure supported by the biotech council, which represents more than 550 members.
Coughlin orally advised Patrick’s staff of an interview for the biotech council presidency, then filed two disclosure forms with the governor and the State Ethics Commission, in July 2007 — three months after submitting his resume to an MBC search committee.
A month later, after Coughlin accepted the biotech council presidency, the state Republican party filed a complaint with the ethics commission against Coughlin, a former Democratic state representative from Dedham, Mass. The complaint followed a Boston Globe report of Coughlin’s pursuit of the MBC job while undersecretary. In that job, Coughlin oversaw six departments — including the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, which includes a life sciences division.
Coughlin “acted in a manner which would cause a reasonable person, having knowledge of all the relevant circumstances, to conclude that the MBC could unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties,” according to his disposition agreement with the ethics commission.
The commission said Coughlin discussed his interest in the MBC presidency with several executives of the group starting in February 2007. That account is at odds with an MBC spokesman’s comment to BRN soon after the complaint was filed, namely that Coughlin’s first contact with the group came in June and consisted of attending a networking event: “Bob was not a candidate for the MBC position at that time. It was more or less a meet-and-greet. It was, ‘What is the MBC?’ It was not an interview [BRN, Sept. 10, 2007].
 “I’m glad to have this matter resolved. I have a great job and I love coming to work every day to lead an organization that represents not just jobs and growth opportunities, but most importantly improving the lives of patients,” Coughlin said in a statement.

Director of Univ. of Arizona’s Bio5 Institute Joins Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Vicki Chandler, director of the University of Arizona's Bio5 Institute, is leaving her post to become chief program officer, science with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in San Francisco. The new position is effective Feb. 17.
Chandler will run the foundation's science program, which promotes collaboration across scientific fields. The foundation — which has a $300 million annual philanthropic budget — forms and invests in partnerships to achieve what it considers significant, lasting and measurable results in environmental conservation, science, and the Bay Area.
Chandler will also continue to devote about 20 percent of her time on her research program at the University of Arizona, including her involvement in the iPlant Collaborative, a project administered by Bio5 and funded through a $50 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
A Regents' professor in the departments of plant sciences and molecular and cellular biology, Chandler holds the Weiler Endowed Chair for Excellence in Agriculture and Life Sciences, a position she will retain along with her UA research activities.
During her tenure as Bio5 director, Chandler emerged as a key architect of, and advocate for, Arizona’s life sciences industry. She oversaw the development and construction of the Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building, now home to 35 of Bio5’s more than 150 faculty members, and four core facilities at UA. She also helped draw researchers to UA and build resources such as the Genetically Engineered Mouse Model Core Facility and the Statistics Graduate Interdisciplinary Program.
At UA, Chandler helped establish a collaborative research center credited with bringing UA tens of millions of grant dollars; and lobbied for state money to build research facilities, while promoting the industry’s importance and accomplishments to the public, according to the Arizona Daily Star of Tucson, Ariz.
"She had a vision for Bio5 that was about much more than just scientific research," Leslie Tolbert, the UA's vice president for research, told the newspaper. "She has an enthusiasm for outreach and the role a university can play in community development."
Tolbert told the Daily Star that UA will name an interim director of Bio5 early next year and plans to conduct a national search for a permanent replacement.
The move will take her back to her roots. She grew up in Northern California and studied at the University of California-Berkeley and UC-San Francisco while later working at Stanford after earning her Ph.D.

Chris Rivera Takes Helm of Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association as Jack Faris Retires
Chris Rivera has succeeded Jack Faris as president of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, the state’s life sciences industry group. Faris retired Dec. 31, 2008, after serving nearly four years in the group’s top executive position, having joined WBBA in February 2005.
A Washington state resident since 1985, Rivera was hired following a search process led by ZymoGenetics CEO Bruce Carter. Rivera most recently served as founder and CEO of Hyperion Therapeutics, a specialty biopharmaceutical company focused on commercializing therapies for gastroenterology and hepatology diseases.
Before starting Hyperion, he was senior vice president of commercial operations at Tercica, where he developed and oversaw Tercica’s global commercialization strategies and was involved in the development and consummation of an international cross-licensing collaboration with Ipsen. Previously, Rivera served as senior vice president of Genzyme Therapeutics, where he built the company’s US renal division and assisted in the global launch of Renagel. Earlier, he helped build the commercial organizations at Centocor and Cephalon.
Rivera holds an MSci degree in audiology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and a BSci degree in business from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. He also studied marketing and management at the Albers Graduate School of Business and Economics at Seattle University.
Faris joined WBBA after serving five years as vice president for university relations at the University of Washington. Before that position, he served as director of community strategies for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and participated in the launch of the foundation's global health initiatives. Earlier, he spent 12 years as team leader for the Boeing advertising account, and served as executive vice president and general manager, of the advertising agency Cole & Weber. He also held an associate professor position with tenure at Towson University in Maryland.
Faris earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, and a PhD from the University of Chicago.

PR Consultant, Five Others Reappointed to Colorado BioScience Association Board
Six members of the Colorado BioScience Association board of directors have been reappointed to their seats at the association’s recent annual meeting:
  • Maggie Chamberlin Holben, owner/founder of the Denver public relations consulting firm, Absolutely Public Relations. Holben serves as chair of the association's communications committee and handles media relations for the organization.
  • Sean Moriarty, president of QLT USA;
  • Rick Jory, president and CEO of Sandhill Scientific;
  • John Eckstein, a director in the corporate practice of the Denver law firm Fairfield & Woods;
  • Tom Roach, audit partner with Ernst & Young; and
  • Lynn Taussig, special advisor to the provost for life sciences at the University of Denver and Wheeler.

Pennsylvania Bio to Honor Former J&J Pharma Group Chairman at Annual Dinner
Joseph Scodari, a longtime biopharmaceutical executive, will receive the annual Hubert J.P. Schoemaker Leadership Awardfrom Pennsylvania Bio at its 2009 Annual Dinner and Awards Celebration, to be held on March 4 at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel
The Schoemaker award is given each year to a biosciences leader deemed to best exemplify the spirit of innovation in Pennsylvania, as well as to have demonstrated a vision for the industry and a vision for improving the lives of patients.
Scodari most recently served as worldwide chairman of the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals Group. Before that appointment, he served as chairman of J&J's pharmaceutical business, and as company group chairman of J&J's global biopharmaceuticals business. Scodari also held the position of company group chairman for the North America pharmaceuticals business, which included management responsibility for Ortho-McNeil, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and Janssen-Ortho Canada.
Earlier, he was president and COO and a director of Centocor, a developer of therapies against cancer and immune-mediated inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and plaque psoriasis.
Tickets for the dinner cost $185 for Pennsylvania Bio members, $275 for non-members. More information is available here.

Chinese Crop Seed Supplier Taps Economic Development Official for Board Seat
Min Tang, deputy secretary of the foundation in charge of macroeconomic financial reform, energy conservation, and social development for China’s Development Research Center, has been named to the board of directors of Origin Agritech Ltd., a Beijing-based supplier of crop seeds. The appointment took effect on Jan. 1.
Tang succeeds Kerry Propper, who has completed a three-year term as a director for the company. The Development Research Center reports to China’s State Council, or cabinet.
Previously, Tang held increasingly senior positions, rising to chief economist, during his 18 years with the Asia Development Bank.
Tang received masters and PhD degrees in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana.

Southeast BIO Honors Former Chair Rebecca Kaufman With Leadership Award
Rebecca Kaufman, partner with King & Spalding, has won the SE Leadership Award of Southeast BIO. Kaufman was recognized for what the SEBIO called her incredible devotion to the organization for the past 10 years. Kaufman has served many roles with SEBIO, including chair of its investor forum in 2005, chair of SEBIO itself in 2007, and now, chair of its marketing committee.
Kaufman was among four winners honored by SEBIO during a recent ceremony held recently at its Tenth Anniversary Investor Forum in Palm Beach, Fla. [See Around the Regions, this issue].

The Scan

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.

Study Highlights Pitfall of Large Gene Panels in Clinical Genomic Analysis

An analysis in Genetics in Medicine finds that as gene panels get larger, there is an increased chance of uncovering benign candidate variants.

Single-Cell Atlas of Drosophila Embryogenesis

A new paper in Science presents a single-cell atlas of fruit fly embryonic development over time.

Phage Cocktail Holds Promise for IBD

Researchers uncovered a combination phage therapy that targets Klebsiella pneumonia strains among individuals experiencing inflammatory bowel disease flare ups, as they report in Cell.