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BioRegion Newsmakers: Feb 2, 2009

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Private Equity Firm Executive Nominated by Maryland Gov. O'Malley to Head DBED

Christian Johansson has been nominated by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. as secretary of the state's Department of Business and Economic Development. If approved by the state Senate, Johansson would succeed David Edgerley, who left office Jan. 30 [BRN, Dec. 22, 2008], and will join HarVest Bank of Maryland as executive vice president effective Feb. 18.

Johansson is a managing director with Continental Equity, a private equity firm in Baltimore, where he has focused on investing in diverse-owned companies and teams. Previously, Johansson served from July 2003 to July 2008 as president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, a public-private partnership that markets Central Maryland for new investment. Earlier he served as senior consultant for Sag Harbor Group in New York, and is co-founder of inka.net, a customer relationship management enterprise software company, and Dola Health Systems, an international health care firm.

One of Johansson's first orders of business will be to design and implement a long-term economic growth strategy that capitalizes on the presence of numerous federal agencies in Maryland, as well as the state's scientific, medical and technology-based assets, DBED said in a press release.

Johansson told the Baltimore Business Journal that he also plans to reconstitute the Economic Development Commission in order to solicit input from Maryland's entrepreneurs. The commission — no longer active — was formed in 1995 as a partnership between businesses and state government, focusing on government and regulatory reform, minority business growth, business competitiveness and other related issues.

Johansson was a member of President Obama's Executive Committee for Urban and Metropolitan Policy during the Presidential campaign and served as an advisor to President Obama's transition team. He also served as co-chair of the O'Malley-Brown Transition Committee for DBED in 2006.

Johansson received a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He currently serves on the board of directors for Hippodrome Foundation as well as the BB&T Metro Area Advisory Board, the Greater Baltimore Committee Leadership Program, and the President's Board of Visitors of the University of Maryland Baltimore County.


SC BIO Names Life Sciences Business Consultant as New CEO

Ambrose Schwallie, a consultant to more than 70 US life sciences companies with a background as an executive for technology companies, will join the public/private, not-for-profit South Carolina Biotechnology Incubation Program, known as SC BIO, as its new CEO, the group's board of governors announced last week.

Schwallie has served as CEO of Distributed Energy Systems, as president/CEO of Westinghouse Savannah River Company, as well as in several positions with Washington Group International, including president of its government and defense business units. SC BIO was formed to grow the biotechnology industry in South Carolina.

SC BIO is headquartered in Greenwood, SC, with offices in the Charleston and Aiken areas.


DOR BioPharma CEO Christopher Schaber Named to BioNJ Board of Directors

Christopher Schaber, the president and CEO of DOR BioPharma, has been elected to the board of directors of BioNJ, New Jersey's biotechnology industry group.

Schaber has held the top executive position at DOR — a late-stage biopharmaceutical company developing products to treat life-threatening side effects of cancer treatments and serious gastrointestinal diseases, and vaccines for certain bioterrorism agents — and served on its board of directors since August 2006.

Before joining DOR, Schaber served from 1998 to 2006 as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Discovery Laboratories. There, he was responsible for overall pipeline development and key areas of commercial operations — including regulatory affairs, quality control and assurance, manufacturing and distribution, preclinical and clinical research, and medical affairs, as well as coordination of commercial launch preparation activities. He also played a key role in raising more than $160 million through both public offerings and private placements.

From 1996 to 1998, Schaber was a co-founder of Acute Therapeutics, and served as its vice president of regulatory compliance and drug development. Schaber was employed from 1994 to 1996, by Ohmeda PPD as worldwide director of regulatory affairs and operations. And from 1989 to 1994, he held a variety of regulatory, development and operations positions with the Liposome Company and Elkins-Sinn, a division of Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.

In addition to BioNJ, Schaber also serves on the board of the Alliance for Biosecurity.

Debbie Hart, President of BioNJ, said in a statement that Schaber "has been a highly engaged member" of the trade group since DOR moved to New Jersey from Florida in 2007.

Schaber received a BA from Western Maryland College, an MSci in Pharmaceutics from Temple University School of Pharmacy, and a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the Union Graduate School.


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Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Adds Three to Scientific Advisory Board

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a quasi-public agency that oversees the state's $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, has added three new members to its scientific advisory board, bringing the board to 15 members, following a vote of its board of directors Jan. 27. The scientific advisory board provides technical guidance and oversight for the center's scientific funding and programmatic decisions.

Jonathan Fleming, managing general partner with Oxford Bioscience Partners, an international venture capital firm specializing in life science technology based investments. Earlier he was a Founding General Partner of MVP Ventures in Boston, and worked at TVM Techno Venture Management in Munich, Germany. He also co-founded Medica Venture Partners, a venture capital firm specializing in early stage healthcare and biotechnology companies in Israel. Fleming holds a master's degree in public administration from Princeton University, and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Doug Cole, a general partner focused on life science investments with Flagship Ventures since 2001. Earlier he was program executive at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, and before than medical director of Cytotherapeutics in Providence, RI. He co-founded Ensemble Discovery with Noubar Afeyan and Professor David Liu of Harvard University, and he served as the company's CEO in its initial stages. He obtained post-graduate training in medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In 1992, Doug was appointed Instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant in Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Doug holds an AB magna cum laude with high distinction in English from Dartmouth College, where he was a senior fellow and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and an MD degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Jean George, a partner focused on the life sciences and therapeutics markets with Advanced Technology Ventures since 2002. Before joining ATV, Jean was a director at BancBoston Ventures, where she led the health care team's investment activity in NuGenesis Technologies, Microbia, Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, and Neurometrix. She also held a variety of positions at Genzyme, including vice president of global sales and marketing; member of Genzyme's tissue repair division; and operational roles in marketing, product development and business development. George earned an MBA from Simmons College Graduate School of Management, and a BSci in biology from the University of Maine.


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Deputy Director Tapped as Interim Director

Paul Alivisatos, deputy director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been named interim director of the facility. The appointment, which takes effect immediately, is subject to confirmation by the full University of California Board of Regents at the board's Feb. 3-5 meeting.

Alivisatos succeeds Steve Chu, who has been nominated for US Secretary of Energy by President Barack Obama. As interim director, Alivisatos is proposed to receive an annual salary of $406,980, representing a 14 percent administrative stipend above his current salary of $357,000.

As deputy director, Alivisatos served as the lab's chief research officer, overseeing the discretionary research budget, key research initiatives and technology transfer functions. In addition, he assisted the director in developing the overall strategic direction and institutional planning for the laboratory. Together with colleague Jay Keasling, Alivisatos played a key role in played an important role in fostering the development of the Helios Energy Research Facility, a joint effort with UC Berkeley that has attracted $500 million in funding from BP for an Energy Biosciences Institute. The institute focused on researching alternative energy programs, but most of the research is focused on using patented microbes to turn non-food crops into transportation fuels.

From 2005 to 2007, prior to being named deputy director of LBL, Alivisatos was associate laboratory director for physical sciences. From 2002 to 2008 he was director of the materials sciences division and from 2001 to 2005 was director of the molecular foundry at Berkeley Lab. Alivisatos has been a member of the faculty at UC Berkeley since 1988, following the completion of postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Laboratories. He is currently the Larry and Diane Bock professor of nanotechnology, and a professor in the departments of materials science and chemistry.

Alivisatos holds a PhD in chemical physics from UC Berkeley and a bachelor of arts in chemistry from the University of Chicago.


Reflect Scientific Subsidiary Adds Midwest Sales Representative for Freezer Product Line

Greg Kessler, founder of Innovative Solutions, a representative for manufacturers of life sciences products in the Midwest — especially Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana — has been named a sales representative by Cryometrix, a wholly owned subsidiary of Reflect Scientific, for marketing its namesake freezer product line.

Reflect Scientific said in a statement that Kessler was hired "in order to keep up with increasing interest in its programmable, contained liquid nitrogen, ultra low temperature, freezer technology." Kessler was credited with helping build a small local supplier into a successful regional company; and successful selling cryogenic freezers to academic, biotech, and clinical customers. "


RTP Medical Affairs Consultancy Names Jeffrey New as Vice President of Medical Activities

Jeffrey New has been hired as vice president of medical activities for Pharmaceutical Strategic Initiatives, a provider of medical affairs strategic consulting and content development services to pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies. He will be based at its Research Triangle Park, NC, facility. PSI focuses on six therapeutic areas: Cardiovascular, bone and metabolism, oncology, pain, respiratory, and specialty therapeutics.

Before joining PSI, New was director of medical and scientific Affairs at DEY LP, a subsidiary of Mylan in Napa, Calif., where he held senior management responsibilities related to medical information, field-based medical liaisons, drug development strategy, drug safety/pharmacovigilance, and medical education and publications.

The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.