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BioRegion Newsmakers: Jun 19, 2009


Philadelphia's University City Science Center Names Four New Directors to Board

University City Science Center in Philadelphia, the nation's oldest and largest urban research park, has announced the appointment of four new members to its board of directors:

Ernest Dianastasis, chair of First State Innovation, which assists technology-based and early stage Delaware businesses in finding funding, talent, commercialization help, and other resources; and managing director with custom computer programming services provider Computer Aid, which is headquartered in Allentown, Pa., and has offices in Wilmington, De;., Newark, Del., and elsewhere in the US and overseas.

David King, venture partner, Quaker BioVentures, a venture capital firm that funds life science companies;

Carl Kopfinger, senior vice president, venture capital and mezzanine investment group, TD Commerce Banknorth; and

Tara Weiner, managing partner, Greater Philadelphia region, Deloitte.

Ex-Hearst CEO Victor Ganzi, a Wyeth Director and PGA Chair, Elected Chairman of NYC Economic Development Corp.

Victor Ganzi, a director of Wyeth and chairman of the PGA Tour who served as president and CEO of media giant Hearst from 2002 to 2008, has been elected chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corp. by its executive committee. Ganzi succeeds John Chalsty who resigned in March after 15 years with NYCEDC.

A member of NYCEDC board since 1994, Ganzi had been its vice chairman since 2007. He has also served on the agency’s executive committee, the audit committee and legal affairs committee.

Ganzi began his Hearst career in 1990 as general counsel and was appointed chief financial and legal officer two years later. He was elected executive vice president in 1997, and was named chief operating officer the following year. Before joining Hearst, Ganzi was the managing partner at the law firm Rogers & Wells, now Clifford Chance.

Ganzi sits on the board of directors of pharma giant Wyeth, as well as of several other businesses and nonprofit organizations; and also chairs the board of directors of the PGA Tour.

Ganzi graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University and received a JD degree from Harvard Law School, and an LLM in taxation from New York University.

EKR Therapeutics Announces Richard DeSimone Named CFO of the Year by the NJ Technology Council

Richard DeSimone, co-founder and chief financial officer of specialty acute-care pharma company EKR Therapeutics, has been honored as chief financial officer of the Year by the New Jersey Technology Council.

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DeSimone was chosen as the NJTC 2009 recipient of the CFO of the Year Award for what the council deemed outstanding contributions to EKR’s growth since January 2008. By the end of last year, according to the company, EKR’s product portfolio had expanded to four commercial brands, plus four newly approved line extensions, promoted by approximately 70 acute-care sales and marketing specialists — up from one product and 10 field sales reps in 2006.

DeSimone was honored at a June 12 NJTC awards ceremony.

WBBA Taps Life-Sci Marketing Vet Stacie Byars as Director of Marketing and Membership

Stacie Byars has joined the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, a Seattle-based life sciences industry association, as director of marketing and membership. Byars' duties include developing and directing WBBA’s messaging and communications strategies aimed at promoting a positive image, optimizing media opportunities, and cultivating strategic relationships; as well as building a marketing program intended to fulfill WBBA's membership development, recruitment, and retention goals.

Before joining WBBA, which has more than 450 members, Byars established SDByars Communications, an independent agency focused on the development, implementation and evaluation of communications strategies. Since 2006, she provided strategic consulting services for public, private, and non-profit organizations. During her more than 20 years in biotech, medical device, and high-tech marketing, Byars held corporate communications and investor relations positions for Targeted Genetics, Nastech Pharmaceuticals, NeoRx (now Poniard), and NeoPath (now TriPath Imaging).

Byars received her BSci in business administration from the University of Washington Bothell. She also served in the US Navy in both domestic and international training commands.

Veritude Adds Senior Sales Executive to New England Area Team

Bill Donegan has been named a senior sales executive with Veritude, a provider of staffing services, to oversee direct sales of Veritude's biotechnology, IT, and professional staffing software solutions — to companies throughout Connecticut and the surrounding region.

Donegan joins Veritude from JCSI Corporate Staffing, where he was vice president of business development. He developed JCSI's first sales process, built and implemented its sales tracking system, increased the sales pipeline by 33 percent, and assisted in closing 60 new accounts in three quarters. Prior to JCSI, he held numerous sales and management positions in his 11-year career at New Boston Systems/Sapphire Technologies in Woburn, Mass. and Hartford, Conn.

Throughout his career, Donegan has placed more than 500 candidates into contract and full-time jobs. He earned a bachelor's degree from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass.

Eight Co-Chairs Announced for Therapeutic Roundtable at Long Island (NY) Group's Upcoming Life-Sci Summit

Organizers of the Life Sciences Summit 2009 — to be held Sept. 23-24 by the Long Island (NY) Life Sciences Initiative at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge, NY — have announced eight co-chairs for the four summit's Therapeutic Roundtable meeting tracks. The roundtables are designed to bring together industry leaders and academic scientists to explore new areas of commercially promising yet breakthrough science.

This year's focus areas for the roundtables, followed by their co-chairs:

• Neuroscience — Fritz Henn, associate laboratory director, Brookhaven National Laboratory; Johan Hoegstedt, vice president, planning & business development, Astra Zeneca.

• Oncology — David Epstein, vice president, OSI Pharmaceuticals. Organizers have invited a second co-chair, Anna Barker, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute.

• Cardiovascular — Barry Coller, vice president of medical affairs, and the David Rockefeller Professor in the Allen & Frances Adler Laboratory of Blood and Vascular Biology, the Rockefeller University; Ann Barry, worldwide business development, cardiovascular, Pfizer.

• Regenerative Medicine — Donna Rounds, director of technology development, Hospital for Special Surgery; Anna Gosiewska, senior director, advanced technologies & regenerative medicine, Johnson & Johnson.

Each roundtable track will feature three one-hour sessions set to focus on next-generation technologies deemed to be of commercial interest. More information about the summit, including online registration, is available here.

The Life Sciences Summit 2009 is expected to draw 500 attendees, including biopharmaceutical industry representatives, and early stage investors. Organizers say proceeds from the summit will help seed a bio-innovation research fund intended to support the discovery, development, translation and commercialization of next-generation biomedical technologies.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.