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BioRegion Newsmakers: Aug 14, 2009

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UCLA Taps Paul Weiss as Director of its California NanoSystems Institute and Professor

Paul Weiss has joined the University of California, Los Angeles, as director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and holder of the Fred Kavli chair in nanosystems sciences, effective this month.

Weiss has been appointed to a five-year term as CNSI director. The CNSI is one of four institutes established within the University of California system in 2000 by the state of California to foster industry-academic collaborations, and thus accelerate the commercialization of inventions and discoveries in nanotechnology.

Weiss was a distinguished professor of chemistry and physics at Pennsylvania State University. Weiss and his research group focus on the atomic-scale chemical, physical, optical, mechanical and electronic properties of surfaces and supramolecular assemblies. He and his students have developed new techniques to expand the applicability and chemical specificity of scanning probe microscopies and have applied these and other tools to the study of catalysis, self- and directed assembly, physical models of biological systems, and molecular and nanoscale electronics.

Leonard Rome, who has served as the CNSI's interim director for the last two years, will resume his previous role as associate director. Rome is also senior associate dean for research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and a professor of biological chemistry.

Weiss earned SB and SM degrees in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980, and a PhD in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986. He was a postdoctoral member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1986 to 1988, and a visiting scientist at the IBM Almaden Research Center from 1988 to 1989. Weiss began his academic career at Penn State as an assistant professor in 1989.

From 1996 to 1997, Weiss was a visiting professor in the department of molecular biotechnology at the University of Washington, and from 1998 to 2000 served as visiting professor at Kyoto University's electronic science and engineering department and Venture Business Laboratory.


Leader of Biotech Development Nonprofit Joins Framingham (Mass.) State College Board

Fernando Quezada, executive director of the Biotechnology Center of Excellence Corp., has been appointed to the Framingham (Mass.) State College Board of Trustees by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

Quezada has served since 1991 as executive director of BCEC, a private nonprofit group in Waltham, Mass., that provides technical assistance and public policy guidance to public agencies and universities pursuing biotechnology development in the US and abroad.

From 1985 to 1991, Quezada managed grants for university-industry collaborations in research and business incubation as project director for biotechnology at the old Massachusetts Office of Economic Affairs, now the state's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

Quezada has served on the Presidential Commission for Biotechnology Development in Chile; and acted as a consultant to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Born in Mexico, Quezada is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, as well as English.


Investments Director Named at University of Maryland's Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship

Craig Dye has been named director of investments for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. Dye will head up the Dingman Center's Capital Access Network, an angel investment group focused on funding early-stage deals of up to $1.5 million.

Previously, Dye served as an advisor to Affinity Lab, an incubator for corporate and social entrepreneurs in the mid-Atlantic region. Prior to this, Dingman was COO of Articulated Impact; and founder and CEO of Wheelhouse Networks. He has also served as chief information officer for Hogan & Hartson, and began his career with Informatics General.

Dye holds a BA in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Pennsylvania Bio Taps Lawyer, Two Life Sciences Executives for Board of Directors

Pennsylvania Bio, the state's biosciences association, has named Michael Cola, Stephen Jannetta, and Kim Taylor to its board of directors.

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Cola is president of specialty pharmaceuticals for Shire Pharmaceuticals, which he joined in 2005 as an executive vice president. Cola has also served as president of the life sciences group at Safeguard Scientifics, and various product-development and -commercialization positions at AstraMerck, and later with AstraZeneca.

Jannetta is a partner in the business and finance practice at the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. He is also a member of the firm's life sciences interdisciplinary group.

Taylor is president of Centocor Ortho Biotech, a Johnson & Johnson company. She joined Ortho Biotech in February 2007 as vice president of sales and marketing. Taylor has also served as managing director for Janssen-Cilag Australia/New Zealand.

MEDC Executive Named First Executive Director of Michigan University Research Corridor

Jeff Mason, senior vice president and chief business development office for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has been appointed the first executive director of the Michigan University Research Corridor.

Prior to his current role, Mason oversaw MEDC’s Technology Development Group, which was supported by the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund. Mason earlier led the MEDC’s communication and media relations activities, and has served as managing director of e-MEDC, an online provider of economic development products and services.

Prior to joining MEDC in 1999, Mason held several posts in state government, including several roles with the Michigan Department of Commerce. He holds a BS in business administration from MSU.

The Michigan University Research Corridor is an alliance between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, and is designed to strengthen the state's economy through combined research and technology-commercialization efforts.

Former HHS Acting General Counsel rejoins Law Firm Sidley Austin

James Stansel, former acting general counsel of the US Department of Health and Human Services, has rejoined Sidley Austin as a partner, resident in the Washington, DC, office, the law firm said.

Stansel rejoins Sidley as co-head of the firm's global life sciences practice. As acting general counsel, Stansel served as chief legal officer of HHS, including sub-agencies the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health. Prior to this, Stansel served as deputy general counsel and was responsible for legal issues related to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Stansel originally joined Sidley in 1998 following a clerkship with Senior Judge Stephen Anderson of the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Stansel earned his JD from Yale Law School, where he served as senior editor of the Yale Law Journal.

New Counsel Hunter Baker Joins Pharmaceutical Group of Law Firm Wolf Greenfield

Hunter Baker has joined the law firm Wolf Greenfield as counsel in its pharmaceutical group.

Baker, who will also be a member of Wolf Greenfield's biotechnology and chemical and materials group, was previously a partner with Choate Hall & Stewart in Boston, where he represented universities, research centers, startups, and medium-sized companies in developing IP strategies, conducting patentability searches and freedom-to-operate studies, prosecuting patent applications, and counseling clients on licensing.

Baker earned an MD-PhD at Harvard Medical School, through the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology. He also holds an MS in chemistry from Harvard, and a law degree from Boston College Law School.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.