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New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation, Stony Brook U and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Maryland’s Life Sciences Advisory Board, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and Hynes Convention Center


Spitzer Taps Business Advocate as NYSTAR’s new Executive Director
MELVILLE, NY -- Edward Reinfurt, a longtime advocate on state business issues, said he will help Gov. Eliot Spitzer step up the state’s support of the biotech industry in his new role as executive director of the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR).
“We’d like to put in front of the governor a more aggressive strategy. It’s not just funding the programs we have — they’re fine,” Reinfurt told BioRegion News on June 14, “but the advancement of a coordinated strategy with all points of the administration is what we’re looking at.”
He spoke minutes after addressing a plenary session of the 2007 Life Sciences Summit held at the Hilton Long Island/Huntington hotel. The summit was hosted by the Long Island Life Science Initiative and the Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University.
Reinfurt joined NYSTAR on June 4 following 27 years as vice president of the Business Council of New York State, the state’s largest business advocacy group based in Albany. While at the council, he worked with IBM, Pfizer and other state-based companies to develop and advance an "innovation agenda" that called for better math and science education, as well as more state investment in research.
In 2000, Reinfurt assembled working groups of business and academic researchers that agreed on standards for what emerged as the state Centers of Excellence program. He previously served as director of government affairs for both the Carrier Group and the Associated Industries of New York State. Reinfurt received a BA from the State University of New York at Albany.

Supercomputers Set for Launch at RPI, Stony Brook
MELVILLE, NY -- The two IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer systems at the heart of an academic consortium’s quest to transform New York state into a cluster for computational biology are both set to begin operating by month’s end.
Administrators at Stony Brook [NY] University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute near Albany said their schools had spent recent weeks testing their systems, which have a combined potential of processing more than 200 trillion computations (200 teraflops) per second.
“The IBM folks are there now to test it and they tell me they are right on schedule,” said Wolf von Maltzahn, associate vice president for research and a professor of biomedical engineering at RPI. “We’ll have a dry run and then, additional testing and testing. Unless something comes up, by the end of this month it’s a done deal.”
That’s also when the supercomputer at Stony Brook University is set to begin operation, said Robert McGrath, the university’s provost and vice president for Brookhaven Laboratory affairs.
Testing proved valuable, he said, in troubleshooting a potential problem before it could delay the system’s launch — the facility housing the system required more air conditioning than called for under initial plans.
Stony Brook U and RPI are two of seven New York universities that have formed the consortium along with Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University; and two other SUNY schools, University at Albany and University at Buffalo. [BioRegion News, June 4].

Maryland Creates New Life Sciences Advisory Board
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed into law a bill (Senate Bill 104 / House Bill 135) creating a new 15-member Life Sciences Advisory Board with the goal of boosting the state’s biotech sector — possibly by creating a one-stop agency for companies seeking to relocate to the state or expand existing businesses there.
The new Life Sciences Advisory Board is a 15-member committee whose purposes include developing a strategic plan for attracting life science companies, promoting collaboration among research institutions, drawing state and federal funds for private businesses as well as funding the infrastructure and capital needs of the state’s federal institutions such as the National Institutes of Health.
The life sciences panel will consist of Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary David W. Edgerley and 14 others – one person from the state Technology Development Corp., three from federal agencies in the state with life sciences missions; four with executive experience with life sciences businesses in the state; four from higher education, one of them a community college; one with life sciences marketing experience, and a member of the general public.
O’Malley in his Jan. 31 State of the State address 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]
At deadline the panel’s members had yet to be announced.
“The goal is to get these recommended names to the governor’s office very soon. Everybody’s best wish would be to kick off having the members of the board named with the new fiscal year July 1,” Lawrence Mahan, director of the biosciences group of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, told BioRegion News.
“We’ve received letters of interest from people who would like to serve on the board. And in going through the groups that are specified in the legislation, we’ve been trying to assist the governor’s office by identifying primary points of contact for those groups,” Mahan added.
The new panel was the most significant of three bills benefiting biotech that O’Malley signed in recent weeks. The governor also approved measures that:

•  Qualify publicly-funded incubators for local property tax credits (Senate Bill 705 / House Bill 327)

•  Commit the state to continue the Maryland research and development tax credit research if a similar federal credit ends or is repealed. (HB 1197)

Not approved this past legislative session was a measure that would have increased the aggregate cap for the Maryland Research and Development Tax Credit from $6
million to $12 million, the cap for the basic tax credit from $3 million to $5 million, and the cap for the growth credit from $3 million to $7 million (Senate Bill 232 / House Bill 46).
Lawmakers wanted to give the existing system, approved in 2005 and implemented last year — at least a full year of operation before considering any changes, Mahan said.

Two Boston Convention Centers Generated $528M in Activity, MCCA Reports
The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and the Hynes Convention Center generated a total $528 million in direct economic activity last year, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority said in a report it released earlier this month.
The report outlined the effects of spending by 696,522 attendees on hotel rooms, local transportation, shopping and dining from the 275 events held by the convention centers in 2006. The authority’s 2006 Economic Impact Report can be viewed here.
Among highlights of the report:
•  The $528 million in economic impact generated last year marked a 40 percent increase from 2005.
•  The facilities generated $18.86 million in direct tax revenue, a 64.1 percent increase from the previous year.
•  For the second year, Tradeshow Week, the industry’s most prestigious weekly tradeshow magazine, ranked Boston in its Top Ten List of Leading Cities.
•  The cost of BCEC and Hynes last year was $37.2 million.
•  6,763 jobs have been sustained by the local convention center industry.
Another potential consequence of the 2006 results: the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) was named one of the three finalists for the 2007 Event Solutions Spotlight Award as “Convention Center of the Year.” The winner will be named August 23 at the Event Solutions Spotlight Awards Event in Miami Beach.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.