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North Carolina Research Campus, Indiana Economic Development Corp., Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Translational Accelerator LLC, Translational Genomics Research Institute, Iowa Biofuels Training International, Maryland Depar

NC Research Campus in Talks With Life Sciences Giant for 300 Jobs, 70,000 Sq. Ft. Lease
WINSTON-SALEM, NC — A major lease deal is in the works that would bring 300 employees of an undisclosed life sciences company to the North Carolina Research Campus, the $1.5 billion, 350-acre life sciences campus taking shape in Kannapolis, NC, a representative of billionaire developer and Dole Food owner David Murdock told attendees Feb. 5 at a conference here.
The life sciences company would lease the remaining 70,000 square feet of a 120,000 square-foot building where Duke University would base a 50,000-square-foot Translational Medicine Institute, Clyde Higgs, vice president for business development for Murdock’s Castle and Cooke, the developer of the NC Research campus, said during the first day of the WIRED Bioscience Institute conference held here at the Marriott hotel.
“We’re actually going to lease the rest of the building to an industry partner. We can’t announce this right now, but there’s a significant publicly-traded company with about 20,000 or so employees that’s going to have about 300 people in this facility with Duke,” Higgs said.
“We’re trying to put together the final pieces of that deal,” Higgs added. “We hope to mimic that whole public-private partnership, that whole technology transfer model, right here on campus. We’re pretty excited about that happening.”
Facilities at the research campus include a 311,000-square-foot Core Laboratory building to be named for Murdock, with a 28,000-square-foot basement vivarium; a 160,000-square-foot hospital to be developed with Carolinas Medical Center and programs of Duke and six other higher education institutions — The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Nutrition Research Institute; UNC-Charlotte’s Center for Bioinformatics; NC State University’s Center for Agricultural Genetics; North Carolina Central University’s Metabolism Center; NC A&T State University’s Center for Post Harvest Technologies; and UNC-Greensboro’s Bioactive Institute.
Also on campus will be the 40,000-square-foot Biotechnology Training Center of the BioNetwork Program, which links the state’s community colleges offering biotech instruction.

Cook Pharmica More Than Doubling Bloomington, Ind., Workforce in $80M Expansion
Biopharmaceutical manufacturer Cook Pharmica has announced plans to create more than 200 new jobs through an $80 million, 80,000-square-foot expansion to its production facility at its development and manufacturing center in Bloomington, Ind.
The new space would house a high-speed syringe filling line, vial filling line and two complimentary finishing lines. The expansion, announced Feb. 6 by Cook Pharmica and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, will more than double the company’s current Bloomington workforce of 173 people. Cook Pharmica, the biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing division of Cook Medical, said it will begin construction of the expansion in mid-2008 and plans to complete the project in early 2010.
The company, which currently employs 173 associates at its development and manufacturing center in Bloomington, will hire engineers, information technology specialists, quality assurance professionals and manufacturing associates as part of the expansion.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Cook Pharmica up to $2.2 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. The city of Bloomington will provide the company with assistance as part of the city's Community Revitalization Enhancement Fund.

Minnesota DEED Awards $600,000 for Biotech Park Water, Sewer Infrastructure
Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development has awarded Pine Island a $600,000 grant to help extend sewer and water service to the proposed Elk Run development, which would include a life sciences campus, the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minn., reported. California-based Tower Investments has proposed Elk Run on 2,300 acres along US Route 52. The development’s 200-acre life sciences park would be built in phases, the first featuring a $16 million, 40,000-square-foot building projected to accommodate 123 bioscience jobs.
When completed, the $340 million campus would include 1.7 million square feet of life sciences space and more than 5,000 jobs, according to the city’s grant application. Rochester officials had sought $750,000 in infrastructure grants in connection with campus infrastructure. The city has also asked the state to borrow $3.4 million for the improvements.

$20M Translational Accelerator Aims to Fund Arizona Early-Stage Companies
Several Phoenix-area bioscience and investment professionals have formed the Translational Accelerator LLC, a private, Arizona-based $20 million bioscience venture capital group.
TRAC said it will be Arizona's first venture fund established to target early-stage bioscience companies. The fund is intended to address the "Valley of Death" period between research discovery and late-stage clinical trials, when financing is difficult to obtain.
TRAC said it will generally invest between $500,000 and $2 million in any one company, with investments supporting only firms located in Arizona or those planning to move to the state. Investments will focus on companies devoted to developing diagnostics, services, prevention agents, and treatments directed to cancer and diseases of the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. Funding will support efforts to move discoveries from the lab into the clinic, the so-called translational stage.
TRAC is managed by Richard Love, a former senior executive of the Translational Genomics Research Institute and former CEO of ILEX Oncology; Dan Von Hoff, physician-in-chief of TGen, Director of TGen's translational drug development division and chief scientific officer of Scottsdale Healthcare; Eric Tooker, president and CEO of Medical Consultant Services; and John Bentley, a partner with Grayhawk Venture Partners.
The fund is supported by a number of individual investors plus the Flinn Foundation, a Phoenix-based private foundation. Interested parties should contact Eric Tooker at (480) 268-2006 or at [email protected].

US Labor Department, Curriculum Developer Join to Boost Biofuels Training
Iowa Biofuels Training International, an international training consortium, has received undisclosed financial help from the US Department of Labor to promote development of a biofuels workforce by matching educational institutions and biofuels producers with workers.
Students will be trained for full-time ethanol and biodiesel laboratory, maintenance and operations positions, IBTI said. It cited forecasts predicting that by 2015, the nation’s biodiesel and ethanol industries will create more than 240,000 full-time jobs in all sectors related to renewable fuels production.
Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Indian Hills Community College, in Ottumwa/Centerville, Iowa, developed IBTI’s job guides and curriculum, with help from Renewable Energy Group, a biodiesel production and marketing firm. Last year REG trained more than 100 employees to work in seven commercial-scale biodiesel production facilities.
Details about the training can be found here at

Maryland DBED Fund Awards $50,000 to Gaithersburg RNA Interference Startup
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development has awarded $50,000 to Sirnaomics, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based drug discovery and targeted therapeutics company founded in early 2007 and focused on RNA interference technology.
The award was made through DBED’s Challenge Investment Fund, which provides financing for small start-up technology companies to cover a portion of initial costs associated with bringing new products to market; in return, companies must provide matching funds. To be eligible, a company must have no more than 25 employees and annual sales revenues of $1 million or less. Companies that meet agreed-upon milestones may receive up to $150,000 from the challenge investment program.

Beckman Coulter Moving Headquarters; Cutting Jobs at Palo Alto Facility
Beckman Coulter will move its existing headquarters from Fullerton, Calif., to the nearby city of Brea by the end of 2009. The firm also is cutting 158 jobs from its Palo Alto, Calif., operations, according to a notice posted late last month on the website of the state’s Employment Development Department.
Mary Luthy, a Beckman Coulter spokesperson, told BRN sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News that the firm is in the process of consolidating its Orange County, Calif., operations into its space in Brea, and that the firm would cease to have a presence in Fullerton once the relocation is completed.
The consolidation is part of a plan devised last year to identify areas where the firm could cut costs. Luthy said Beckman identified 100,000 square feet of wasted space in its facilities and expects it will identify even more excess space as it continues to evaluate its operations. The firm also plans to consolidate some of its West Coast warehouses into one center in Chino, Calif.
“At this time there are no planned layoffs,” associated with the relocation to Brea, said Luthy. “We have said that there may be some outsourcing or relocations.”
Luthy said that the reduction in staff in Palo Alto is part of Beckman’s plan to close its facilities there and move its centrifuge manufacturing operations to Indianapolis, which the firm announced a year ago.
She said that the job cuts would happen between now and September, as pieces of the manufacturing processes are relocated. The 158 staffers include those who decided against relocating and those who were not offered a position in Indianapolis, she said.

Oxfordshire Bioscience Network Announces Second Annual Biotrinity Conference April 15-16
The Oxfordshire Bioscience Network, the life sciences industry group for Britain’s Oxford and South East BioCluster, has announced it will hold its 2nd annual Oxford biopartnering conference, BioTrinity 2008, on April 15 and 16 at Quadrangle at Kassam in Oxford. More than 300 companies are expected to take part, OBN said.
During the conference OBN will publish the OBN BioCluster Report 2008, which willdetail every financing and deal by biotechs in the Oxford biocluster since 2005.
OBM said attendees will have the opportunity to meet potential partners in private partnering rooms, and hear presentations by dozens of venture capital firms as well as biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies.
"Last year we catered for over 500 partnering meetings, over 400 delegates from nearly 300 companies, with over 180 licensing opportunities in its inaugural year, and this year we've increased our capacity and expect to host over 800 partnering meetings all in private partnering rooms," said Jon Rees, OBN's network director.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.