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Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board, Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, University of Colorado at Boulder, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, New York State Common Retirement Fund, Nebraska Department of Economic

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley Names 15-Member Life Sciences Advisory Board
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Sept 14 named the 15 members of the state’s new Life Sciences Advisory Board, charged with developing a comprehensive strategic plan for Maryland’s life sciences industry.
Chairing the board will be H. Thomas Watkins, president and CEO of Human Genome Sciences, a Rockville, Md.-based life sciences company. Other members of the life sciences advisory board:
  • Norma Allewell, dean of chemical and life sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Norka Ruiz Bravo, deputy director for extramural research at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Francesca Cook, vice president of policy and government affairs at PharmAthene.
  • Stephen Desiderio, director of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns
  • Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • Lawrence Diamond, mid-Atlantic senior vice president with Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
  • David Edgerley, secretary of Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development.
  • David Iannucci, director of the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development.
  • Philippe Jacon, president of BD Diagnostic Systems.
  • Col. George Korch, Commander of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
  • Nina Lamba, founder and president of CCL Biomedical.
  • Hercules Pinkney, vice president and provost of Montgomery College, Germantown.
  • David Ramsay, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
  • Renée Winsky, executive director of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation.
  • Janet Woodcock, deputy commissioner and chief medical officer of the US Food and Drug Administration.
The life science advisory board was created in May when O’Malley signed Senate Bill 104/House Bill 135 into law [BioRegion News, June 18].
The board’s membership includes the secretary of the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development, a representative from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, three representatives from federal agencies with life science missions, five representatives from biotechnology businesses in Maryland, four representatives from institutions of higher education, and a member of the general public.
The advisory board’s responsibilities include:
  • Promoting life sciences research, development, commercialization, and manufacturing in the state.
  • Promoting collaboration and coordination among life science organizations in Maryland.
  • Developing a strategy to coordinate state and federal resources to attract private sector investment and job creation in the life sciences.
  • Developing a strategy to support federal life sciences facilities located in the state, including support for education, transportation, housing, and capital investment needs
  • Making recommendations to address critical needs in the life sciences, including access to venture capital and capital construction funding.
Maryland is home to more than 370 bioscience companies. The state’s private-sector bioscience companies employ approximately 30,000; an additional 30,000 workers are employed at federal and academic institutions.  
During his Jan. 31 State of the State address, O’Malley declared the advisory board “a potential precursor to a true Life Sciences Authority” that would help Maryland expand a biotech base it quantifies as 57,000 people working in 370 companies. [GenomeWeb News, April 3]
“Growing Maryland’s life sciences industry is a critical step toward a brighter future for all citizens,” O’Malley said in a press release announcing the advisory board’s members. “We are fortunate to have brought together some of the greatest scientists, educators and business professionals to help us in the important task of developing a roadmap to move this industry forward.”
The board has scheduled its first meeting for October 17 at the Human Genome Sciences headquarters.

Massachusetts House Refers $1B Life Sciences Bill to Economic Development Panel
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has begun its formal review of Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative. The bill, formally titled “An Act Providing for the Investment In and Expansion of the Life Sciences Industry in the Commonwealth, is a package of subsidies intended to attract and retain biotech companies, subsidize research, and train future professionals.
Earlier this month, the House assigned the bill a number (House Bill 4235) and referred the legislation to the Joint Committee on Economic Development, co-chaired by state Rep. Daniel Bosley (D-North Adams) and state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston). It was not known if the Senate had advanced the life sciences measure; a spokesman for Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) was unavailable at deadline after promising to follow up on a telephone query from BioRegion News.

Report: Massachusetts Official Tapped to Succeed Robert Coughlin as Undersecretary
Gregory Bialecki, assistant secretary and general counsel in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, will soon be appointed the department’s undersecretary of business development, an appointive position in the administration of state Gov. Deval Patrick, according to a Sept. 14 report in the newspaper Mass High Tech that the state had yet to confirm at deadline. Bialecki would report to economic development secretary Daniel O’Connell.
Bialecki would succeed Robert Coughlin, who left the post Sept. 4 to take his current job as president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, the state’s life sciences industry group with more than 500 members. That hiring is at the center of an ethics complaint from the state Republican party, which cited a newspaper report in complaining Coughlin negotiated for the post in June while still a state employee, a month before alerting the state Ethics Commission.
The biotech council, in its first public comment on the issue, earlier this month told BioRegion News Coughlin had not pursued the council’s top position until July, and thus had done nothing wrong – echoing earlier public comments by Coughlin and his lawyer.

University of ColoradoBoulder Professor Donates $20M to Biotechnology Project
University of Colorado at Boulder Distinguished Professor Marvin Caruthers has donated $20 million toward construction of a new $115 million interdisciplinary biotechnology and biomedical research building.
The university says the new facility, part of its Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, will rise in the CU-Boulder Research Park near 30th Street and Colorado Avenue, east of the main campus. Pending approval of the university Board of Regents, the 260,000-square-foot building is set to be named the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, for Caruthers’ late wife, a former adjunct professor in CU-Boulder's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The building will host 60 faculty and more than 600 researchers from a wide variety of science, engineering, and medical disciplines.
Caruthers’ gift, announced Sept. 11 by CU Chancellor GP (Bud) Peterson, is the largest ever by a CU-Boulder faculty member and one of the largest in campus history. Caruthers is a co-founded of Amgen and Applied Biosystems.
"It is an investment in CU-Boulder's future, and it heralds a new era of collaborative research and discovery that will transform our campus, the field of biotechnology and, we hope, the collective health of humanity itself,” Peterson said in his announcement.
The facility will contain classrooms, teaching labs and seminar rooms for more than 1,000 students annually from science and engineering disciplines across campus. The facility will also house CU system faculty from several departments including but not limited to chemistry and biochemistry, biology, physics, applied math, computer science, and chemical and biological engineering.
In addition to Caruthers’ gift, funding sources for the building will include additional private support, CU, and the state of Colorado. The building is expected to open in 2010.
In a press release, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said the facility “will help to solidify biotech research as a mainstay of Colorado's economy, fueled by the important work being done at CU-Boulder and University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center.”

Sorenson Legacy Foundation Donates $6M to University of Utah Business School
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation, a charitable organization established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family, has donated $6 million to the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business in Salt Lake City. The award will fund the creation of an interdisciplinary center that will collaborate with entrepreneurs and businesses toward the study of discovery and innovation in biotech and other high-tech fields.
The university said the center will name a “world-renowned” chair of discovery and innovation Studies to oversee and direct research; award research grants to faculty in any department working on interdisciplinary innovation- and discovery-related projects; sponsor the Tech Titans Innovation Challenge, a statewide student idea and design competition; and sponsor two conferences: the Sorenson Showcase, a premier networking event for entrepreneurs, inventors and the business community, and the Product and Process Innovation Winter Conference for academics in Park City.
To be named after James LeVoy Sorenson, a Utah medical device inventor, the new center will encourage what the university calls “a multidisciplinary examination of innovation and discovery as the primary tools in human progress and economic development.” The Sorenson Legacy Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation established by the James LeVoy Sorenson family to promote charitable, religious, educational, literary, and scientific endeavors.

2007 Charlotte Biotechnology Conference Sets Online Registration, Agenda, and Speakers
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Charlotte Research Institute, and the North Carolina Research Campus have announced the sixth annual Charlotte Biotechnology Conference, to take place Oct. 12 at the Barnhardt Student Activities Center on the UNC Charlotte campus.
The conference is designed to be the region’s annual flagship event highlighting biotechnology research, manufacturing, investment and business development opportunities – including the development of the 350-acre North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. The conference will feature over 40 speakers, including many of the region’s top political, business, academic, and research professionals.
The fee is $100 for attendees registering online at; attendees registering at the door pay $120. More than 300 attendees are expected during the one-day event.

New York State Pension Fund Invests $6M in Ithaca Bioanalytical Services Company
The New York State Common Retirement Fund, overseen by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, has announced it will invest $6 million in Advion BioSciences, a bioanalytical contract services company and developer of life science micro-chemistry related systems based in Ithaca, NY. The state fund will act through private equity manager Credit-Suisse Customized Fund Investment Group.
The fund made its $6 million investment as part of its In-State Private Equity Investment Program, created in 1999 to help small New York-based businesses find the capital they need to grow. Through the program, the CRF has invested in more than 100 different companies through 16 different private equity managers.
Advion can evaluate samples using its liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry capabilities. The company’s micro-chemistry related systems segment is in its fourth year of operations and provides products that are used to conduct research in proteomics and biomarkers, as well as in preclinical and clinical diagnostic imaging.
Founded in Ithaca in 1993, using technology developed at Cornell University, Advion has 150 employees and maintains sales and support offices in North America and Europe. In April, Advion relocated to its current headquarters at the Cornell Business and TechnologyPark. Last month Advion announced it had acquired NanoTek, a small Tennessee maker of microfluidic chemistry systems.
The $154.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension plan in the US with more than one million members, retirees, and beneficiaries from state and local governments.

Nebraska GovernorPromotesState’s Businesses During Tokyo Phase of Trade Mission
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman witnessed the signing of several agreements between Nebraska and Japanese businesses, and visited the Nebraska Center, the state’s international trade office, during the Tokyo phase of a state trade mission.
Heineman witnessed the signing of an agreement under which M&S Instruments, a Japanese distributing company, will distribute throughout Japan the biotechnology products of Lincoln, Neb.-based LI-COR Biosciences. LI-COR has ended a one-year agreement with another distributor, Aloka Company Limited.
LI-COR — which employs more than 200 Nebraskans — designs and manufactures instrument systems for biotechnology, plant biology, and environmental research. It was founded 36 years ago after capitalizing on technology developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The governor also announced an agreement for Itochu Corporation, a 150-year-old Japanese trading company, to review Nebraska venture capital opportunities. The state Department of Economic Development will partner with the Midlands Venture Forum to provide Itochu with investment opportunities in Nebraska. Itochu has approximately $90 billion of annual total trading transactions and revenue in excess of $18 billion.
Heineman also delivered remarks during the opening ceremonies of the 39th Annual Joint Meeting of the Midwest US-Japan Association and the Japan-Midwest US Association in Tokyo, attended by more than 400 US and Japanese business and government representatives.
Before the conference opening, Heineman joined officials from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Omaha-based Aflac Insurance in hosting a breakfast for Nebraska delegates and 25 Japanese business representatives. Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey also attended the breakfast.
Heineman’s stay in Tokyo also included a visit to the Nebraska Center in Tokyo, the state’s first international trade office. Opened in 2006 and led by businessman Koji Nagasaka, the Nebraska Center is the main point of contact for Japanese companies looking for business opportunities in Nebraska.

AMRI Opens $8M R&D Facility in Hyderabad, India
AMRI has opened an $8 million, 50,000-square-foot research and development center in Hyderabad, India. The facility includes laboratories for conducting early-stage research such as custom chemical synthesis and analytical chemistry.
During this first phase of expansion, the R&D building will add approximately 100 employees to AMRI’s operations in Hyderabad, where 35 scientists are now based. The company said it has built sufficient infrastructure to expand the facility, which would more than double the number of employees.
Scale-up laboratories for preparing active ingredients for both preclinical and clinical trials are expected to open later this year and 2008, respectively, according to AMRI.
In May, AMRI acquired two pharmaceutical manufacturing sites, along with additional land for expansion, in Aurangabad and Navi Mumbai, India. “We look forward to achieving synergies between these new development laboratories and our large-scale manufacturing facilities,” said Thomas D’Ambra, AMRI’s chairman, CEO, and president, in a Sept. 10 press release.

Alpha Biologics Targets Q1 2008 for Manufacturing at New $18M Facility
Alpha Biologics, a contract manufacturer of drugs with operations in Malaysia and the UK, said it expects to complete a new $18 million, 5,000 square-meter (53,820-square-foot) manufacturing facility in Penang by year’s end, with the first product manufacturing expected to commence in the first quarter of 2008.
The company, which has its European headquarters on the Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge in the UK, also announced that within the past few months, it has secured contracts with an unidentified Japanese pharma company together with a series of contracts with an unidentified Belgian biotech organization. All involve process development work, the early stages of which are being undertaken by the company’s process development unit in Babraham. This work will be scaled up at the new Penang facility with the transfer to cGMP manufacturing being overseen by the company’s technical transfer team.
In a Sept 7 press release, Alpha Biologics CEO Simon Saxby attributed the upturn in process development work to the global shortage of cGMP contract manufacturing capacity. Alpha Biologics’ Penang facility should succeed in that environment, he said, because its cost of operation will be lower than those of European and North American contract manufacturers.
The company specializes in producing mammalian, cell-secreted protein drugs for pre-clinical, phase 1, and phase 2 trials.
Alpha Biologics was established in 2003 with the support of the Penang Development Corporation and Malaysian Industrial Development Authority. Other investors include Springhill Bioventures, Pequot Capital, and Asiaprise Biotech.  The company expects to close on another round of financing “within the next few weeks,” Alpha Biologics said in the press release.

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.