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Massachusetts House of Representatives, Colorado House of Representatives, Coordinating Emerging Nanobiotechnology Research in Maryland, Maryland Technology Economic Development Corp., Biotech Forum, Wisconsin Department of Commerce, Massachusetts Executi

Massachusetts House of Representatives Approves $1B Life Sciences Initiative
The Massachusetts House of Representatives on Feb. 28 approved a version of the $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative unveiled late last month by House leaders, after the Democratic majority blocked an effort by Republicans to derail the bill.
The House passed the bill 134-13, with 12 Republicans led by Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) joining a Democrat in voting against. Opponents had argued the state could not afford the bill’s cost, and should not favor some life sciences employers over others.
The measure will advance to the state Senate, where it is expected to pass before being signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick.
The amended bill, which can be read here, retains the spending envisioned by Patrick when he proposed the original bill last summer: $500 million in bonds for capital investments such as facilities and life sciences equipment; $250 million on fellowships, research grants, and workforce training programs; and $250 million on tax credits targeted to life sciences companies that fulfill job-creation promises.
But House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi (D-South Boston) and other leaders of the chamber added earmarks for a host of projects designed to benefit many of the state’s largest life sciences employers, as well as projects Patrick proposed for state-funded University of Massachusetts [BioRegion News, Feb. 19].
Opponents argued the earmarks unfairly favored corporate giants over smaller life sciences companies. Supporters of the bill have defended the set-asides as necessary to advance expansion projects with the best chances of creating the greatest number of jobs.

Colorado House OKs $26.5M Over Five Years for Bioscience Discoveries Grants
The Colorado House of Representatives has given preliminary approval for a five-year, $26.5 million expansion of the state Bioscience Discoveries grant program, the Denver Business Journal reported.
The House preliminarily passed House Bill 1001, sponsored by Rep. Jim Riesberg (D-Greeley), after Gov. Bill Ritter called for expanding the grant program in a state economic plan announced last fall. The bill awaits final approval by the House before moving to the Senate, where its first stop will be that chamber’s finance committee.
The grant program awards up to $150,000 per project to Colorado research institutions and up to $250,000 for Colorado-based biotech startups.

Maryland Lawmakers Propose Grant Program to Fund Nanobiotechnology Research
A group of Maryland lawmakers has introduced a bill to create a grant program that would fund research in nanobiotechnology, with the goal of establishing the state as a hub for the emerging industry.
The Coordinating Emerging Nanobiotechnology Research in Maryland program would use state money as well as federal dollars to establish new research centers and foster public-private partnerships, through a fund to be overseen by the Maryland Technology Economic Development Corp., also called TEDCO.
The measure was introduced by state Senate President Thomas Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and Delegate Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery), who cited the state’s existing life sciences cluster, and its proximity to academic research institutions like Johns Hopkins University and federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health.
"Maryland is putting the flag down: Come here," Mizeur told the Washington Post. "This industry is poised to be an economic blockbuster for Maryland."
The amount of the grant program has not been included in the legislation. Miller told the Associated Press it could end up between $5 million or $10 million.

Half-Day Conference Focusing on Biotech Industry Growth in Southern California

Growing a life sciences cluster in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties will be the topic of a half-day conference to be held March 27 by the Biotech Forum at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel in Westlake Village, Calif.
"The Perfect Storm: Forecasting An Emerging Regional Biotech Industry" will feature a luncheon presentation by keynote speaker Beth Seidenberg, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, which focuses on life sciences investments. After the speech, a series of panels joining venture capitalists, government officials, and university administrators will focus on opportunities to create a biotech cluster in the region.
The Forum’s cluster effort has gathered steam in the months since Amgen announced a companywide series of cutbacks that include layoffs of up to 2,600 employees [BioRegion News, Aug. 20, 2007].
Forum was established by Gold Coast Business Forum founder Brent Reinke and John Dilts, founder of the Westlake Village-based angel investor network Maverick Angels.
The conference will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., followed by networking at 6 p.m. The registration fee is $195 per person, but is waived for Forum members.

Wisconsin Commerce Department Seeks Applicants for VC Fair Grants
The Wisconsin Department of Commerce is seeking applications from community-based and private nonprofit organizations for grants of up to $75,000 to support venture capital development conferences intended to provide regional or statewide benefits to Wisconsin entrepreneurs or businesses.
The grants would be funded through the Community-Based Economic Development program administered by the state commerce department.
Deadline for applications is March 21. The application is available here.
Would-be applicants seeking more information should call Doug Thurlow at 608/266-7942 or e-mail him at [email protected].

Section of Worcester, Mass., Named the Bay State’s First ‘Growth District’
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has designated a section of Worcester, Mass., as the state’s first “Growth District,” allowing the state to join with local officials and property owners to coordinate local permitting, state permitting, site preparation, infrastructure improvements and marketing.
The 81-acre district includes Gateway Park, a venture of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the public-private Worcester Business Development Corp.; as well the Lincoln Square section of downtown Worcester. Gateway Park is a 12-acre, mixed-use campus planned to include 241,000 square feet of market-rate loft condominiums, retail space, and five life sciences buildings totaling 500,000 square feet — the first of which was completed last year [BioRegion News, Sept. 10, 2007].
Daniel O’Connell, the state’s secretary of Housing and Economic Development, led dignitaries in announcing the launch of the first growth district during a visit to the Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park. He said the Worcester growth district is one of 16 the state plans to designate over the next several months.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.