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Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Boston University National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, Cooley Godward Kronish, MedImmune, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Virginia BioTechnology Research Park, NanoMedics, Lonza, Columbia University,


Mass Bio Council Defends Coughlin Appointment Against Ethics Charges
In its first public comment on the topic, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council this week defended the actions of its new president in pursuing the job against ethics charges lobbed by the state Republican Party, and rejected complaints that it needs to change the makeup of its 23-member board of directors.
The state GOP filed a complaint with the state Ethics Commission Aug. 30, alleging that Robert Coughlin had pursued the council’s presidency in June, a month before disclosing to the ethics panel he was a candidate for the position, and recusing himself from handling biotech issues as undersecretary of commerce and economic development. The Republican party cited reports in the Boston Globe, which included comment from Coughlin and a lawyer representing him maintaining they did nothing wrong.
Biotech Council spokesman John Lacey told BRN this week that Coughlin’s first contact with the group in June consisted of attending a networking event: “Bob was not a candidate for the MBC position at that time. It was more or less a meet-and-greet. It was, ‘What is the MBC?’ It was not an interview.”
Lacey said the issue would not impact the council’s work, including its lobbying on state issues such as the $1 billion, 10-year Life Science Initiative proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick. He noted Coughlin is barred from lobbying state lawmakers for a year from the day he gave up his seat as a member of the state House of Representatives last January to join Patrick’s administration as undersecretary of commerce and economic development, and cannot lobby Patrick’s administration for a year from Sept. 4, the day he took office as council president.
The council spokesman also dismissed two issues raised in a Sept. 4 Globe report:
  • The need to retain staff; only one of nine council staffers five years ago still works for the group, a former board member complained in the Globe article. “Staff retention is not an issue with us,” Lacey said. “It’s kind of the normal nature of any organization that has different layers of people who have been here different periods of time.”
  • The desire to attract CEOs of larger biotech companies, an argument the Globe attributed only to “some.” Of the council’s 23 board members, Lacey said, 11 are presidents or CEOs. Four board members are senior vice presidents reporting directly to CEOs. The remainder consists of a venture capitalist, a former Genzyme executive, and professionals from Deloitte and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation, which oversees school programs and worker training efforts.

NIH Study Supports South End Site for Boston University’s NEIDL Project

A rendering of Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, now under construction and slated for completion next year.
Boston University picked up support in its four-year effort to build a National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory in Boston’s South End when the National Institutes of Health released its review of the project that defended the planned site as safe as, or safer than, suburban or rural alternatives.
NIH concluded that the construction and operation of the Biosafety Level-4 facility on Albany Street, within the Boston University Medical Campus, did not pose a risk to the neighborhood or to surrounding communities — a conclusion disputed immediately by opponents of the NEIDL project.
“The research in these laboratories can be done safely, for the workers and for the community. High-containment laboratories are needed to do this research, which holds the promise of finding ways to prevent and treat the many emerging infectious diseases that are serious public health problems,” said NEIDL director Mark Klempner, a Boston University School of Medicine professor and Medical Campus associate provost for research, in a BU press release announcing the report’s findings.
BU has received a $128 million grant from NIH toward construction of the $178-million, 192,000-square-foot NEIDL. The lab is intended to perform basic and clinical research into infectious diseases, which in recent years have included West Nile virus, Ebola, avian flu, and HIV. Construction is more than half completed, and the biosafety lab is set to open in August 2008 [BioRegion News, May 14].
NIH’s support for the project location was among arguments BU cited as its battle to end years of lawsuits climaxed with arguments before the state’s highest court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, on Sept. 5.
NIH said it used computer models to simulate several scenarios in which an infectious disease was accidentally released from a Level 4 lab and introduced to the community in urban, suburban, and rural environments. Investigators found that under normal conditions and using realistic scientific assumptions, the likelihood of infection or death was negligible and approached zero. The new study’s findings echoed those of previous studies by BU consultants, which concluded that locating the lab in the city would neither elevate nor create a public health risk in the community.
In addition to safety concerns, NIH investigators looked at the laboratory’s impact on air quality, noise, wetlands, and emergency responders. For all those factors, NIH found the South End site a more appropriate location for the lab than two potential alternatives: Tyngsboro, Mass., on the northern edge of the state, and Peterborough, NH, a short distance to the north.
The report has not satisfied neighborhood residents and other critics, who in public statements have contended NEIDL would be unprepared to combat an accidental release of toxins outside its lab, and that the BSL-4 facility should operate in a less-densely populated neighborhood.
The NIH is soliciting public comment at a Sept. 20 hearing to be held at Faneuil Hall.

Report: West Coast Sees More Later-Stage VC Financing, Higher Valuations
East Coast venture capital deals are increasingly resembling those crafted out West, according to a report on venture capital financing terms issued by the Palo Alto, Calif., law firm Cooley Godward Kronish.
During the nine months ending March 31, 2007, the report concluded, a growing number VC deals included multiple liquidation preferences rather than a single event, traditionally an initial public offering of stock. Deals on the West Coast have seen liquidation preference terms remain fairly steady from the fourth quarter of 2005 through the first quarter of 2007, Cooley’s Private Company Financings Report concluded.
Another difference between regions, the report said, is the differences between the number of Series C and later stage financings.  From the fourth quarter of 2005 through the first quarter of 2007, the West Coast accounted for an average of 36 percent of all Series C and later stage transactions, while the East Coast only saw an average of 21 percent during this same time period, the Cooley’s study showed.
Along with a greater percentage of later-stage transactions, Cooley’s found the West Coast also had higher median valuations at each stage of financing. While the median pre-money valuation for Series A financing was only slightly higher on the West Coast than the East Coast, valuations were considerably higher for later-stage financings on the West Coast, the report concluded.
“While it’s interesting to see some of the most significant differences, it’s also important to keep in mind that there are generally more similarities than differences when it come to overall deal terms,” said Jim Fulton, a partner in Cooley's Palo Alto office, and head of the firm's emerging companies practice group, in a press release announcing the latest Cooley’s report.
Cooley's Private Company Financings Report is published approximately every quarter and is based on private company transactions in which the firm served as counsel to either the issuing company or the investors. A complete version of the report is available at

MedImmune Opens Pilot Laboratory Within Gaithersburg, Md., Headquarters
MedImmune has officially opened a new pilot lab facility within its headquarters campus in Gaithersburg, Md. The new six-story, 133,800-square-foot facility is designed to provide additional capacity and flexibility to support MedImmune's expanding clinical product pipeline.
The new pilot lab's 5,000 liters of bioreactor capacity will result in a four-fold increase in production capabilities. With the expanded facility, MedImmune will be able to produce clinical trial materials at a greater scale and in greater quantities, aiding in the testing of potential new products
MedImmune has not disclosed the cost of creating the pilot lab, but has said it houses $20 million worth of equipment.
“The opening of this facility, alongside the expansion work underway on our new biologics facility in Frederick, Maryland, reaffirms our leadership role within the state's biotechnology industry and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the region,” said David Mott, president and chief executive of MedImmune, at the Aug. 23 ribbon-cutting event for the pilot lab.
That statement appears designed to address concerns raised by business and civic leaders throughout Maryland that MedImmune would reduce its presence in the state following its acquisition earlier this year by AstraZeneca for $15.6 billion.
The facility will become the primary site for production of MedImmune's therapeutic proteins, replacing the Gaithersburg Manufacturing Development Facility. Material production is expected to begin in 2008, following the final stages of equipment validation. MedImmune said it plans to upgrade GMDF in the near future to provide added support for its development needs.

North Carolina Biotechnology Center Launches Lab Space Website
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has established a website listing wet lab facilities throughout the state that are available for start-up companies to lease or buy. 
The site contains facility details provided by official representatives, including in some cases Internet links and photos. Properties eligible for inclusion in the free listing service must be available for immediate occupancy via lease or sale to companies requiring wet lab or incubator space or manufacturing space suitable for life sciences-related production.
The free listings are searchable for six regions of the state, coinciding with the biotech center’s six regional outposts — western, eastern and southeastern North Carolina, Charlotte, Piedmont Triad, and Research Triangle Park.
Not eligible for listing are pure office spaces; office-warehouse “flex” or “shell” space that requires what the center considers significant adaptation or investment for lab work; or “captive” facilities such as university-only academic research labs. Space intended for instrumentation and other capabilities not associated with wet lab space is also not eligible.
The biotech center is co-sponsoring the site with the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center, which had maintained its own wet lab and incubator space website for several years. Participants in the listing service who log onto the SBTDC site are now automatically linked to the biotech center’s new site.
Businesses looking to list their available sites should contact the biotech center’s Pamela Gaster at [email protected] or (919) 541-9366.

Virginia BioTechnology Research Park Draws Eye Disease Treatment Company
The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park in Richmond has announced the arrival of its newest tenant, a company focused on developing alternative solutions for eye diseases, particularly complicated retinal detachment.
NanoMedics has developed a biocompatible, nontoxic silicone magnetic fluid technology designed to be an alternative to surgery. The company says its technology allows doctors to treat patients in their offices through injection and anesthesia. The technology is being expanded to include possible treatments for age-related macular degeneration.
NanoMedics is one of more than 55 tenants at the research park; the others include research institutes affiliated with the Virginia Commonwealth University Technical Center and major state and national medical laboratories. The research park will encompass 1.2 million square feet of space in nine buildings and employ more than 2,000 industry professionals upon completion of the new $350 million Philip Morris USA Center for Research and Technology.

Columbia Names Environmental Consultant for Proposed Manhattanville Expansion
Columbia University has hired the environmental design consulting firm Atelier Ten to work with the school to set and implement environmental goals for its proposed expansion into the Manhattanville manufacturing section of Manhattan’s West Harlem neighborhood.
Atelier Ten will assist Columbia in designing new buildings to the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as well as in developing strategies for management and conservation of energy and water, as well as maintaining air quality, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Atelier Ten also provides LEED consulting services to Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Columbia has proposed building 6.8 million square feet of new teaching, academic research, and civic and commercial space, plus underground parking and support facilities, under a mixed use project intended to revitalize a four-block section of West Harlem from 129th to 133rd Streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue. The 17-acre project site also includes land on the north side of 125th Street, as well as three properties on the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th streets.
The project has been opposed by a coalition of owners of existing neighborhood businesses and residents opposed to relocating; as well as community groups that have cited fears the project would result in overdevelopment and gentrification that would benefit Columbia at their expense. Opponents persuaded the advisory Community Board 9 to recommend against the project in a 31-2 vote on Aug. 20. The project’s fate ultimately rests with the New York City Council, which is expected to hold hearings later this year before reaching its own, binding decision.

BCNJ, Pensylvania Bio Open Registration for Next Month’s Biotech 2007 Conference
The Biotechnology Council of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Bio, and Delaware BioScience Association have opened registration for Biotech 2007 (, their seventh annual joint bioscience symposium, to be held Oct. 8-9 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Biotech 2007 features 21 panel discussions, plenary sessions, keynote speakers, a business development forum, innovation corridor, an exhibit hall and a career fair — all designed to advance the growth and development of the bioscience industry in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
Additional program details are available at Registration rates for members of the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware biotech groups is $750 before Sept. 14 and $975 after. For non-members, registration costs $1,025 before Sept. 14 and $1,275 after.

With Makeover in Mind, North Carolina BPTC Selects Branding Consultant
The North Carolina Biomanufacturing and Training Consortium has selected Forma Design to develop a new name and image for the group. The branding effort will be used to market BPTC externally, with an emphasis on industrial recruitment and related economic development projects.
In announcing the agreement, the consortium said Forma Design was selected because of its extensive branding experience with companies and organizations like the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and Quintiles. Forma specializes is marketing for biotech and other life sciences companies.
BPTC is a partnership of NC Bio, its Biotech Manufacturers Forum, the North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina System, and the North Carolina Golden LEAF Foundation.

Manufacturing Services Company Named an Economic Award Finalist
Hyaluron Contract Manufacturing, a Burlington, Mass., provider of aseptic manufacturing services to companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, has been selected as a finalist for the 2007 Team Massachusetts Economic Impact Award, based on its contribution to the Bay State’s economy since 2006.
Since January 2006, HCM has invested more than $2.25 million in facility expansion, and has created nearly 40 new jobs, bringing its current staff headcount to 85. Last October, the company applied for a patent on a new technology designed to reduce or eliminate the bubble inside a pre-filled syringe.
In an announcement trumpeting the recognition, HCM said its future plans include the expansion of its current facility by at least 6,000 square feet and the expansion of its work force to 100 employees by the end of this year.

UNLV Completing 15,000-Square-Foot Addition to Shadow Lane Biomedical Facility
University of Nevada-Las Vegas is completing a $5 million expansion and renovation of its Shadow Lane Biomedical Facility that will add 15,000 square feet of new space, resulting in a 40,000-square-foot building, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The new space will be within a new “mid-floor” being built as part of the project, overseen by construction company McCarthy Building. UNLV opened the biomedical facility by transforming what had been a state-run rehabilitation center.

Medpace Strengthens Presence in Central Europe
Medpace, a Cincinnati-based global, full-service contract research organization, said it has expanded its ability to serve clinical research managers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as a result of acquiring Monax, a regional CRO headquartered in Prague, in a deal completed last month and announced Aug. 21.
Monax founder Petr Potuznik will continue to lead Medpace clinical operations for the Czech-Slovak region. Medpace has more than 50 employees in nearly 40 countries.

India Launches First Institute of Regenerative Medicine
Manipal University in Bangalore has announced the creation of the Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a new initiative intended to facilitate research in stem cells and tissue engineering within a clinical setting. In its Aug. 20 announcement of the initiative, MIRM said it will strive to be a world-leading center for basic stem cell biology.
MIRM has launched a Masters level degree and training program in regenerative medicine for students from biological and/or medical related backgrounds. The course is focused on strategies to repair, replace, and ultimately regenerate various tissues and organs to solve major clinical problems.
The MIRM center was inaugurated Aug. 18 by H.S. Ballal, pro-chancellor of Manipal University, in the presence of Ranjan Pai, CEO of Manipal Education and Medical Group, and Raj Warrier, vice chancellor of Manipal University.

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The Scan

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.

Acne-Linked Loci Found Through GWAS Meta-Analysis

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics find new and known acne vulgaris risk loci with a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis, highlighting hair follicle- and metabolic disease-related genes.

Retina Cell Loss Reversed by Prime Editing in Mouse Model of Retinitis Pigmentosa

A team from China turns to prime editing to correct a retinitis pigmentosa-causing mutation in the PDE6b gene in a mouse model of the progressive photoreceptor loss condition in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

CRISPR Screens Reveal Heart Attack-Linked Gene

Researchers in PLOS Genetics have used CRISPR screens to home in on variants associated with coronary artery disease that affect vascular endothelial function.