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Deals and Doings: Jan 5, 2009

Oakland University Plans Healthcare-Research Park Within Rochester Hills, Mich., Campus
Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Mich., will break ground next year on a 157,300-square-foot Human Health Building that will house the nursing and health sciences schools and a public health clinic, the Detroit News reported.
The facility is the first in a set of sites intended to transform the northwestern corner of its campus into a research and healthcare hub. Next up will be a new William Beaumont School of Medicine building, followed by a facility that would house a specialized patient treatment center, drug trials, and more research. All would be situated at Squirrel Road and Walton Boulevard.
The three structures that will comprise the still-unnamed research park will likely not be complete until 2014. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson told the newspaper the campus plan "fits in very nicely with our plans to brand the region as a center of excellence in health care," in part through its “Oakland Medical” healthcare marketing effort.
"The research component is going to be very powerful for us," Oakland University President Gary Russi told the News. "Not only basic research in health care, but applied research in the treatment of diseases. This is a huge mega-structure that we are talking about that will have (a great) impact in this area."
The effort comes a year after the university revealed plans for the state's first medical school in four decades. While a full economic impact study has yet to be conducted, OU has estimated the medical school alone will generate $1 billion in economic activity, and 11,000 new jobs, with the research park to add additional jobs.
Oakland County is Michigan’s leading county for the number of health care establishments with 4,300, and number two behind Wayne County for the number of health care and life sciences jobs, with 93,000, according an Anderson Economic Group study commissioned by OU, the county, Beaumont Hospitals, and McLaren Health Care Corp. The study said Oakland County could add another 45,000 healthcare and life-sci jobs over the next decade. 

Thermo Fisher Scientific Shells Out Nearly $14M for Franklin, Mass., Industrial Space
Thermo Fisher Scientific has purchased its leased facility at 27 Forge Park in Franklin, Mass. — a one-story, 110,756-square-foot industrial building completed in 1996 — from seller Embarcadero Capital Partners for $13.95 million, real estate market tracker CoStar Group reported.

Situated on 16.93 acres, the industrial property features 600 parking spaces, two loading docks and a clear height of approximately 21 feet.

Hank Amabile, Stephen Cook, and Jack Kerrigan of Grubb & Ellis Transaction Services represented the buyer. The seller was represented by its principals.

CEO: Amarillo Biosciences Will Accept Incentives Toward Move from Texas to Kansas
Amarillo Biosciences CEO Joe Cummins told the Amarillo Globe-News his company will accept a financial incentive package to move from its namesake Texas city to a city in Kansas willing to provide millions of dollars, but which he declined to identify pending a formal announcement: "I expect to accept the offer to relocate on Jan. 6.”
"It's not that I don't like Amarillo," he said. "It's just difficult to find money here,” Cummins told the newspaper. "Since raising $1 million in January 2008 from a hedge fund in New York City, the equity markets have dried up. Therefore, we have been searching for funding everywhere."
Five other cities are waiting to woo the company if the deal in Kansas falls through, Cummins told the Globe-News. He said his company has also contacted the Amarillo Economic Development Corp. about obtaining subsidies tied to job retention and growth.
Amarillo Biosciences has developed a solid, dissolvable form of the antiviral protein interferon, and has nearly completed a Phase II clinical trial for treating oral warts in HIV patients. Amarillo Biosciences also is testing the therapy on hepatitis C patients in Taiwan and flu patients in Western Australia.

Redevelopment Agency Cuts $500K from San Jose (Calif.) BioCenter Expansion
A long-discussed expansion of the San Jose (Calif.) BioCenter [BRN, May 12, 2008; July 23, 2007] survived a round of project paring by the city’s Redevelopment Agency, whose board last month cited the economic upheaval in trimming a previously-approved five-year budget into a two-year spending plan by dropping some 100 previously-planned redevelopment projects.
But the expansion was not spared from budget-cutting, as the agency sliced $500,000 from the construction expense of expanding the BioCenter into a 33,750-square-foot space on the first floor of 5941 Optical Court, where it now occupies the building’s second floor of 36,594 square feet. The cut reduced the expense to $2 million — the largest single piece of the nearly $5 million set aside for the life-sci incubator.
Left untouched in the two-year spending plan, covering the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years, were all other expenses associated with the project: nearly $1.9 million for initial build-out costs, $531,573 for equipment acquisitions and tenant improvements; and $476,526 in lease costs with the building’s landlord, Mission West Properties.

MedImmune Months Away from Breaking Ground on Gaithersburg, Md., HQ Expansion
MedImmune will start construction within the next six months on a seven-story, 250,000-square-foot research facility set to nearly double the space the company occupies at its Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters, company spokeswoman Perla Copernik told Maryland Community Newspapers.
The new facility would be completed by late 2011, Copernik told the newspaper chain, and is the last building to rise according to MedImmune's master plan, which envisions a total 750,000 square feet of space. To comply with a green-building law enacted last September, the building must meet the “silver” standard of the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
MedImmune’s HQ campus now houses five attached buildings totaling 463,000 square feet. The company’s intent to expand its HQ was first reported late last year by the Washington Business Journal, though the size of the new building appears to have expanded since the newspaper’s report surfaced [BRN, Dec. 1, 2008].
Once the new building is finished, MedImmune envisions having 4,500 employees on campus — up from the 2,500 reported in 2007, when the company was acquired by UK-owned AstraZeneca for $15.6 billion. "I think that [in 2008], we already met our expectations of 800 hired, and we expect to hire another 800 [in 2009]," Copernik told MCN.
In addition, MedImmune is also nearly quadrupling the size of a 91,000 square-foot manufacturing facility it owns in Frederick, Md. The company is adding 355,000 square feet to the factory, where MedImmune manufactures Synagis, a medication designed to help prevent serious lower-respiratory tract disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus in children.

Massachusetts Gov. Patrick ‘On Official Business’ In Visit to Stadium Owned by Biotech Park Developer
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was “on official business” when he accepted an invitation to the owner’s box during a Dec. 21 football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. — whose owner is seeking state approval for a 1.6 million-square-foot biotechnology park nearby, a spokesman told the Boston Globe.
Spokesman Joseph Landolfi denied that Patrick was accepting an improper freebie from the Kraft Group, whose New England Patriots trounced the Arizona Cardinals 47-7.
The visit received coverage in numerous other Massachusetts news outlets and political blogs because Kraft Group disclosed plans for the campus soon after Patrick’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development on Nov. 20 conferred one of 16 “Growth District” designations statewide on 500 Kraft-owned acres that include the campus project site. According to the EOHED web site, growth districts include properties capable of being approved within six months for new large-scale redevelopment projects sought by local communities that “plan and zone the district for uses and densities for which there is reasonable market demand.” [BRN, Nov. 17, 2008].
"His involvement at the game was formal," Landolfi said. "He was there in his official capacity to reenlist National Guard members during halftime. This is done annually."

University Breaking Ground This Month on Smithfield, Pa., Tech Park
East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University's Center for Research and Economic Development plans to break ground this month on a $11.25 million, 51,000-square-foot Research and Technology Park at Route 447 and East Brown Street, the Pocono (Pa.) Record reported.
The building will be complete in September and occupied soon after, according to the university.
The new facility could create 90 new jobs next year, with an additional 133 fostered indirectly, according to an economic impact study by the Northeast Pennsylvania Alliance, a regional economic development organization. The study also concluded that total economic impact could be as much as $26 million next year and rise as high as $85 million in 2011.
Mary Frances Postupack, CEO of the research and economic development center, told the newspaper the building will feature class A office space for anchor tenants such as Right Reason Technologies, a Web-based training company, and the Energy & Research Technology Hub, which is looking for alternative energy sources for the manufacture of boilers.
The research and technology center will offer 11,000 square feet — in the form of office space and wet labs — for 12 to 15 startups. The center has received enough letters of intent to fill all the spaces, but is still marketing its staff to tenant prospects.
Incubator businesses range from software and Web design firms to biotech and light manufacturing concerns. In addition, the building will house the Northeast Wildlife DNA Laboratory, which provides services to determine and differentiate genetic variation within wildlife for biological and forensic applications; and the Cyber Crime and Forensics Institute, a project of ESU, Drexel and Rider universities designed to train investigators and carry out research in cyber forensics.
The center now houses 12 startup companies in business accelerators scattered from East Stroudsburg to Stroudsburg.
The three-story, glass and brick research and technology park was designed by Hemmler+Camayd architects, and was built with public and private funds. That includes more than $3.75 million from the state of Pennsylvania — $2.5 million from a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project grant, $1.2 million from the state's Economic Development Administration and another $75,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is a partnership of the federal government and 13 Appalachian states.
The remaining $7.5 million will be raised through loans from three different banks, with monthly repayments to be covered mostly through rental income, Postupack told the Record.

Subsidiary of Stempeutics Opens Stem Cell Research Facility at Technology Park Malaysia
Stempeutics Research Malaysia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of India’s Manipal Education and Medical Group, has opened a new RM 20 million ($5.7 million) stem cell research facility within Technology Park Malaysia.
Malaysia’s deputy minister of science, technology and innovation, YB Tuan Haji Fadilah Yusof, led dignitaries in opening what Malaysian officials said was their nation’s first stem cell research facility. He said Malaysia is looking to tap into a potential market for stem cell research and therapies pegged at $157 million, with an annual growth rate of 12 percent.
Malaysia is home to 80 biotechnology companies, 25 of which are owned at least in part by foreign investors. The companies specialize in agricultural biotechnology, healthcare and industrial biotechnology.

Firm Completes Design for Flint, Mich., Incubator, to Anchor Kettering Univ. Tech Park
The architectural firm SHW Group’s Detroit studio has completed its design for a new Science and Technology Incubator facility at Kettering University in Flint, Mich. The 9,000-square-foot standalone structure will overlook the Flint River and anchor the university's planned Technology Park.
Amenities in the facility, to rise on Bluff Street, near the Flint River, will include a business center, furnished offices, a conference room with high-tech audio/video systems, a café vending and seating area, and a reception area.
The private space will house six wet and dry research laboratories. Each lab will be approximately 700 square feet, with completion slated for late 2009.
The incubator will be built to meet standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the US Green Building Council, SMW said.

Community College, Tech Company Take 4,700 Sq. Ft. at Bristol, Pa., R&D Complex 
Two tenants have agreed to lease a total 4,700 square feet at a recently renovated building within the nearly $30 million Bridge Business Center, a research-and-development complex being built in Pennsylvania’s Bristol Township by Keystone Redevelopment Group of Doylestown, Pa., the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Bucks County Community College will house a chemistry lab, classroom and two offices within its 3,500 square feet of space, where it plans to offer three chemistry classes beginning Jan. 21. The remainder of the space will be occupied by an unidentified “technology company that does work for the defense industry, which plans to move in February,” the newspaper reported. The two tenants will move into a 50,000-square-foot building, one of several totaling 310,000 square feet of space renovated from industrial use by previous owner Rohm and Haas, until it was acquired by Dow Chemical.
In addition, Keystone has rights to build another 60,000 square feet of new industrial and industrial/office “flex” spaces, to be sold condominium style. Keystone has acknowledged that its ability to fill the renovated buildings, let alone build the new space, on 35 acres along the Delaware River has been hampered by the current economic upheaval: “We do recognize the slowdown and the challenges of next year," Robert Loughery, managing member of Keystone, told the Inquirer.
Last year Pennsylvania awarded Keystone $6 million from its Building PA program toward the project [BRN, July 28, 2008]. Pennsylvania expects the project to help advance the state’s goal of expanding its life-sci sector beyond the 1,751 businesses and 72,000 jobs recorded in 2007, the latest-available figure.

Upstate NY Digital Media Company Inks Interactive Directory Deal with BIO
MarketArt, an East Greenbush, NY, digital media company, will produce a ‘You Are Here’ interactive directory system for the 2009 Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention, set for the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta from May 18-21, under an agreement signed recently, the Times-Union of Albany, NY, reported.

The Scan

Wolf Howl Responses Offer Look at Vocal Behavior-Related Selection in Dogs

In dozens of domestic dogs listening to wolf vocalizations, researchers in Communication Biology see responses varying with age, sex, reproductive status, and a breed's evolutionary distance from wolves.

Facial Imaging-Based Genetic Diagnoses Appears to Get Boost With Three-Dimensional Approach

With data for more than 1,900 individuals affected by a range of genetic conditions, researchers compared facial phenotype-based diagnoses informed by 2D or 3D images in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Survey Suggests Multigene Cancer Panel VUS Reporting May Vary Across Genetic Counselors

Investigators surveyed dozens of genetic counselors working in clinical or laboratory settings, uncovering attitudes around VUS reporting after multigene cancer panel testing in the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.