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New York State Stem Cell Science/NYSTEM, New York Biotechnology Association, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., LEEM, Oklahoma’s Economic Development Generating Excellence, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Genesee County Economic Developm

NY Stem Cell Equipment and Facility Funding: Up to $45M Over Five Years, Director Says
While California’s stem cell agency recently awarded $271 million in grants toward new research facilities statewide, the chief executive of New York’s stem cell agency told BioRegion News it will not attempt to match the Golden State dollar for dollar.
Lawrence Sturman, executive director of the New York State Stem Cell Science/NYSTEM program, noted that its governing board, the Empire State Stem Cell Board, or NYSTEM, recently announced a formal request for applications for an unspecified amount in grants for facilities and equipment “to support the establishment and operation of multi-institutional core facilities and specialized equipment to maximize the expertise, efficiency, and quality of stem cell research.”
The facilities and equipment funding was part of a total approximately $109 million in RFAs announced May 8 by Gov. David Paterson [BRN, May 12].
New York will not spend anywhere near the amount of grants approved earlier this month by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine [BRN, May 12], Sturman said in an interview.
“Infrastructure development in the first five years is slated to get $30 [million] to $45 million,” Sturman said — including $7.4 million of the $14.5 million awarded by NYSTEM, accounting for 41 of the 142 grants awarded to 25 institutions on Jan. 7 [BRN, Jan. 14]. The state’s announcement did not spell out how much of the money was for infrastructure and equipment, and Sturman could not furnish a figure.
“The stem cell board didn’t feel that it was essential to build buildings. Also, $600 million is one-fifth of $3 billion,” Sturman said, alluding to the total funding for California’s stem cell program.
“Given the difference in the scale of funding and the cost of building, it would take a significant proportion of the dollars available,” said Sturman, who is also director of the Wadsworth Center, the public health laboratory of the state Department of Health.
Sturman spoke minutes after giving a presentation on the state stem cell effort during “New York State Funding for Stem Cell Research,” a panel discussion held as part of the New York Biotechnology Association’s 17th Annual Meeting, held May 19-20 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City.

2008 BIO an $83M Shot in the Arm for San Diego Region, Convention Center Forecasts
The 2008 BIO International Convention, set for June 17-20 at the San Diego Convention Center, will generate $83 million for the region, according to a forecast by the nonprofit public benefit corporation formed to operate the venue.
The San Diego Convention Center Corp. last week predicted that more than 20,000 attendees will generate an estimated $34.6 million in direct spending, plus $1.47 million in tax revenues during the four-day convention, which is also expected to generate 39,960 hotel nights.

The last time San Diego hosted a BIO convention in 2001, 14,731 people attended the event. Back then, 890 companies promoted themselves in exhibits occupying 81,700 square feet of space. This year, more than 2,200 companies will exhibit and cover 220,000 square feet.

“Interest is greater than ever because of the critical issues being addressed during the convention, including follow-on biologics/biosimilars, personalized medicine, genomics, sustainable agriculture, biofuels and clean tech,” BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said in a statement.

The 2008 BIO convention will rank No. 2 in size of economic impact to San Diego during 2008 just behind the $99.8 million expected from the 2008 Winter Fancy Foods and Confection Show, according to the convention center corporation.

The 2008 convention program features more than 175 breakout sessions, six larger or “super” sessions on major industry topics, and keynote lunches with retired general Colin Powell on leadership, J. Craig Venter on the future of genomics, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) on biotech in his state, and the duo of Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) on the role of government in research and discovery.

According to figures compiled in 2006 by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the San Diego region’s life science cluster has an annual economic impact of $5.3 billion in direct spending and another $3.8 billion in multiplier spending for a total impact of $9.1 billion a year.


Study for LEEM Predicts 32,000 French Pharmaceutical Jobs At Risk By 2015
A report prepared for France’s pharmaceutical industry group, Les Entreprises du Médicament or LEEM, projects that 32,000 jobs — representing 28 percent of the industry’s current work force — are at risk of being eliminated by the year 2015.
Exactly how many jobs will disappear, the report continued, will depend on how proactively government and industry respond to a series of challenges facing the industry — from pressure to contain prices despite the rising cost of research, a shift in growth specialties, increased competition from biotechnology companies, and the internationalization of that competition. An aggressively proactive approach can contain job losses to 10,000 by 2015, concluded the report, prepared by the firm Arthur D. Little.
The report recommended maintaining France’s small-molecule drug production sites by creating hubs for medicinal product manufacture in the Seine and Loire river valleys and in the Drouais region. In addition, hubs for the production of vaccines and biologics should be established in the Rhône valley and part of the Auvergne, anchored by existing Genzyme and Sanofi-Aventis sites in those regions, while additional biologics production facilities should be created in the Alsace and border regions, centered on the Eli Lilly site at Fegersheim and the BioValley complex, the report added.

While investment in France’s biologics sector has grown from €167 million ($261.9 million) in 2005 to €625 million ($980.1 million) from January to mid-September 2007, the industry still ranks third or fourth in Europe, depending what measure is used, according to the report.


Oklahoma Solicits Proposals for Up to $13M for Research Through EDGE Program
Oklahoma researchers have until June 20 to submit pre-proposals for funding research through the Oklahoma’s Economic Development Generating Excellence, or EDGE, fund.
EDGE is intended to support applied research and technology commercialization projects, with economic development in mind. Oklahoma has $150 million deposited in the fund, which was recommended for $1 billion when it was conceived in 2004 by a task force appointed by Gov. Brad Henry.

To date, EDGE has generated about $6.8 million for its first round of applications, with another $6.8 million to be generated in the fiscal year that starts July 1, Paul Risser, executive director of the EDGE Policy Board, said in a statement. However, state Treasurer Scott Meacham told the Journal Record of Oklahoma City that state lawmakers are still working on a bill clarifying that EDGE funds can be carried over from year to year, to ensure that the full $13 million will be available to fund proposals this year.

Following review, some of the researchers who submitted pre-proposals will be invited to craft full proposals, to be due in late September. Details for submitting both the pre-proposals and full proposals are available here.
While proposals can represent any area of technology; the EDGE Policy Board gives emphasis to applications in biotechnology as well as aerospace, agriculture, energy, and weather science.

The board also determines the sizes of awards. Successful applicants are expected to “advance projects that will have an impact on Oklahoma’s economy,” Henry’s office said in a statement, with preference give to public-private proposals.

"Of all the things we do up here, the EDGE research endowment has the potential to have the greatest reach into the future, to make the biggest difference in transforming Oklahoma into a global leader in research and technology commercialization,” Henry said at a news conference announcing the pre-proposals, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

Mass. Biotechnology Council Launches $1.4M Research Challenge for Cancer Society
The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council last week challenged the state’s life sciences companies to join the American Cancer Society in funding the $1.4 million cost of cancer research across the state.
At its annual meeting, held May 20, the council lauded AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Novartis for answering the challenge by agreeing to donate $140,000 each toward American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowships, each one lasting three years. AstraZeneca has a major cancer research facility in Waltham, and operations located in Westborough, while Novartis headquarters both its global research organization and global vaccines division in Cambridge.
The council represents more than 500 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, research hospitals, and service organizations involved in life sciences and health care statewide.

NY Department of Labor Awards Regional Coalition $500K for Life Sciences Training
The Genesee County (NY) Economic Development Center, a regional coalition of education and economic development groups, has secured a $500,000 grant from the state Department of Labor to promote economic growth and workforce development in the Western New York and the Western Finger Lakes area.
The state grant is being leveraged against a pair of grants totaling $500,000 — nearly $200,000 from a Finger Lakes Workforce Innovations in Regional Economic Development, or WIRED, grant recently awarded to Genesee Community College; and the remainder in a Bank of America grant awarded to the University of Buffalo for life sciences workforce development.
UB and GCC are coalition members, as are the Genesee County Business Education Alliance, Genesee Valley BOCES and several area school districts.
The grant will allow UB to train as many as 60 teachers region-wide — including 25 high school science teachers in the Genesee Valley BOCES district, which encompasses Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, and Steuben Counties, as well as school districts within the Monroe 1 and 2 BOCES district. The educators will pursue certification to teach GCC's Introduction to Biotechnology course, and be exposed to career opportunities that they can then relate in the classroom.
In addition, GCC will launch a summer program in which high school students will attend a six-week course, in return for pay as well as college credits in the life sciences.

Biotech VC Investment Lags in China During Q1 as Media, Advertising Deals Drive Activity
China’s biopharmaceutical industry saw its venture capital funding plummet during the first quarter of this year, according to the China Quarterly Venture Capital Report released last week by Dow Jones VentureSource.
Q1 ’08 data showed only two biopharmaceutical deals closing in China, accounting for $20 million in investment. That is 74 percent below the record $76 million invested in the industry in the first quarter of 2007.
Despite the weak biopharma sector, overall venture capital investment remained strong in China during the first quarter of 2008 as investors put $719 million into 39 deals, with local media and advertising companies accounting for more than half of deal activity and investment.
“While some of these investments are for web-based technologies, many of the larger deals are going to finance traditional services like billboard and signage companies and travel-related services. With a ramp up in transit infrastructure and the increasing popularity of automobiles in China, there is a real opportunity for venture-backed companies to exploit the newfound mobility of the region’s emerging middle and upper classes." said Jessica Canning, Global Research Director for Dow Jones VentureSource.
Overall investment rose 46 percent from the $492 million invested in the year-ago quarter.

Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation Holding June Conference, With Sector Revival a Goal
Ottawa’s biotechnology sector can be revitalized by resolving obstacles preventing startups from thriving or, once on their feet, remaining in Ottawa, Lynn Buchanan, vice president of the life sciences group for the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation, told the Ottawa Business Journal last week.
Buchanan told the newspaper her group will hold a day-long conference in June aimed at re-energizing the industry by bringing together scientists, business people, and others. She acknowledged that significant discoveries in the university or research lab often fail to make a smooth and profitable transition into the marketplace, adding. "That's at the heart of the problem.”
Ottawa’s challenge is the same as many other regions within Canada, Peter Brenders, president and CEO of industry group BIOTECanada, told the OBJ. While Canada has "great technology across this country, and that's recognized south of the border," Brenders said a shortage of venture capital for the industry in Canada has caused startups to either wither or relocate to the US or elsewhere.
But one Canadian entrepreneur, Genotek CEO Ian Curry, told the newspaper other sources of funding for startups exist, such as the angel capital that has sustained his business, which manufactures DNA sample-collecting devices: "There are a lot of people in Ottawa interested in biotechnology investment, but the question is, can they understand what your business is?”

Developer Eyes Biotech Tenants for $20M Apartment Building in Worcester, Mass.
A Dedham, Mass., developer is counting on life sciences employees to lease the 45 Worcester, Mass., apartments for which he joined officials in breaking ceremonial ground last week.
The site of the 65,000-square-foot former David Burwick furniture store at 651 Main St. will be renovated into Hadley Apartments by developer David Rodriguez-Pinzon’s Economic Development Finance Corp. The furniture store building will be converted to 40 apartments for low-income residents and five units to be leased at market rates, as well as 5,000 square feet of street-level retail space.
The $20.1 million project, slated for completion by year’s end, will be the first phase of a larger project to create 200 rental apartments and condominiums by renovating existing buildings and constructing new ones along Madison, Main, and Beacon Streets.
“Our objective is to attract working people with some disposable income,” Rodriquez-Pinzon told the Telegram and Gazette of Worcester –- such as workers employed by area colleges and universities, the biotech industry or local trade organizations. “For our site, the labor force is primarily here. We have enough market in Worcester.”
He added that the project’s success is not dependent on other parts of the local economy, such as the expansion of commuter rail service to Worcester or the slow pace of the downtown CitySquare mixed-use project.

Economic Development Finance Corp. has received public funding for its project, including $5.1 million in low-income tax credits and another $550,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development’s Stabilization Fund.

The apartment plan fared better than a previous proposal to raze the 85-year-old furniture store building for a McDonald’s restaurant, a convenience store, and a gas station. That plan collapsed following local opposition.

The building was originally constructed for the Hadley Furniture and Carpet Company, and was later occupied for several decades by David Burwick Fine Furniture.


Australia’s CSIRO Shutting Rockhampton Livestock Lab Next Year, Apparently With Biotech in Mind
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the nation’s chief scientific agency, said last week it will close its livestock laboratory at the JM Rendel Laboratory in Rockhampton in about 12 months.
CSIRO blamed a lack of funding from the government of Prime Miniter Kevin Rudd in last week's budget for the closure. But CSIRO staff association executive Michael Borgas told the Morning Bulletin of Rockhampton that the agency’s shutdown reflected its interest in other scientific specialties, namely genetics and biotechnology. Borgas also told the newspaper the closure would hurt Rockhampton's beef industry and the nation’s greater beef export market.
But Alan Bell, CSIRO’s Livestock Industries Chief, said the shutdown of the Rockhampton lab as well as a research site in Victoria reflected a lack of industry co-investment in livestock science.
The laboratory’s nine scientists, 10 research support, and eight administrative support staffers have been asked to relocate to facilities in Brisbane or Townsville.

Research Triangle Region Adds 102K Jobs, Begins Planning for Next Five Years
North Carolina’s 13-county Research Triangle region added nearly 102,000 jobs in the first four years of implementing a five-year comprehensive regional economic development strategy, called Staying on Top: Winning the Job Wars of the Future.
Absent a worsening of the regional economy in 2008, Research Triangle will have achieved its goal of adding 100,000 new jobs in the region during the five years of the plan. The news was announced May 22 to more than 800 regional business and community members at the fifth annual State of the Research Triangle Region event, hosted by the Research Triangle Regional Partnership.
During 2007, regional employment climbed by 2 percent, or 17,463 jobs, according to NC Employment Securities Commission data. Life sciences led the region’s growth industries, with $120 million in business relocation investment for a total 3,669 jobs. Other strong categories included $41.5 million in new corporate headquarters, for a total 1,133 jobs; $32 million in military support-related industries (304 jobs); and $6.2 million in vehicle components manufacturing (32 jobs).
New and expanding companies included clinical development company PRA International, which moved its headquarters from northern Virginia to Raleigh, in a $2.9 million relocation expected to create 494 jobs.
Also in 2007, a consortium led by the state life sciences industry group, NCBIO, received a $100,000 planning grant from the NC Biotechnology Center to develop a Center of Innovation in Advanced Medical Technologies.
“These results reaffirm our strategy of focusing economic development on expanding clusters, like life sciences and technology, where we have a world-leading research and development advantage and high probability of creating jobs in the future,” said Charles A. Hayes, president and CEO of the RTRP, which leads development and implementation of the Staying on Top plan, in a statement.
The 13 counties include Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake, and Warren

Medical Instrument Maker Expands Field Service, Technician Teams for North America
Medical instrumentation maker BIT Group’s USA Field Service Center has expanded its customer service and field technician teams, as well as its FDA-approved BAAN service software, in hopes of serving more North American clients. The center is based at the offices of a BIT Group company, Source Scientific of Irvine, Calif.

The Scan

Lung Cancer Response to Checkpoint Inhibitors Reflected in Circulating Tumor DNA

In non-small cell lung cancer patients, researchers find in JCO Precision Oncology that survival benefits after immune checkpoint blockade coincide with a dip in ctDNA levels.

Study Reviews Family, Provider Responses to Rapid Whole-Genome Sequencing Follow-up

Investigators identified in the European Journal of Human Genetics variable follow-up practices after rapid whole-genome sequencing.

BMI-Related Variants Show Age-Related Stability in UK Biobank Participants

Researchers followed body mass index variant stability with genomic structural equation modeling and genome-wide association studies of 40- to 72-year olds in PLOS Genetics.

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.