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Shire Pharmaceuticals, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, PPD, Tata Energy Research Institute, Biotechnology Industry Organization, American Life Sciences Competitiveness Act, MichBio, Ellerbe Beckett, McCracken & Frank, Illinois Biotechnology Industry

Shire Pharmaceuticals Announces $30M HQ Expansion in Wayne, Pa.
Shire Pharmaceuticals and Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell have announced the company will carry out a $30 million expansion of its US headquarters in Wayne, Pa., that will create 390 jobs while allowing the company to retain its existing 594 jobs.
Shire will lease a 115,000-square-foot building near its US headquarters in the Chesterbrook Corporate Center in Wayne. The company is renovating the 1200 Morris Drive facility, which has been vacant for more than five years, and acquiring furniture, fixtures, and equipment while striving to make the building environmentally friendly, or “green.”
“As Shire Pharmaceuticals continues to grow, there is no better place for us to call home than Pennsylvania,” said Matthew Emmens, Shire’s CEO, in a press release announcing the expansion. “The productive talent pool, the quality of life and the support for business in the commonwealth are second to none. We’re proud to be a part of this region’s growing biopharmaceutical and technology corridor.”
Shire worked with the Governor’s Action Team to secure a $2.07 million funding offer from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, including a $600,000 Opportunity Grant, $300,000 in customized job training assistance and $1.17 million in job creation tax credits. Shire is also eligible to apply for Pennsylvania R&D tax credits since its new operation will include significant research functions.
In May 2004, Shire established its US corporate headquarters in Wayne in return for $5.2 million from Pennsylvania. Within 18 months, the company exceeded its initial commitment to spend $8 million and create 400 jobs in a three-year period.

Coughlin Discloses Pursuit of Massachusetts Biotechnology Council Presidency
Robert Coughlin, Massachusetts’ undersecretary for business development, has told the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission he is pursuing the presidency of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and will recuse himself from work on Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham, Mass., reported on July 30.
"Massachusetts Biotechnology Council is a membership organization and its potential membership will be increased by the passage of the Governor's Life Sciences Initiative,'' Coughlin said in a statement he filed with the ethics commission.
The biotech council has been searching for a new president since the resignation of the last person to hold the position, former speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Thomas Finneran, now a radio talk show host on WRKO-AM. Finneran resigned in January, soon after he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice during a redistricting lawsuit, and agreed to a $25,000 fine and 18 months of unsupervised probation.
A former town selectman in Dedham, Mass., Coughlin won election to the House in 2002 and resigned that seat last January to take his current position. Last May during the 2007 Biotechnology Industry Organization Global Convention in Boston, Coughlin and Daniel O’Connell, the state’s secretary of housing and economic development, assisted Patrick in announcing the life sciences initiative [BioRegionNews, May 14].
State Sen. Jack Hart (D-Boston) also filed a statement with the ethics commission expressing interest in the council presidency, the Daily News reported.

PPD Plans a Doubling of Its Operations in Scotland, 390 New Jobs
PPD, a global contract research organization headquartered in Wilmington, NC, plans to expand its operations in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and create there about 390 additional jobs, in an expansion the company said will meet a growing demand for its drug development services.
Located in Strathclyde Business Park, PPD currently employs more than 350 professionals in Scotland. The company expects to invest up to a total of £15 million ($30.45 million) to further expand its offices in this location over the next three years, creating new jobs in biostatistics, data management, pharmacovigilance, product development, and clinical trial management and monitoring.
PPD will construct a new 34,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its existing 34,000-square-foot Fleming House offices, opened earlier this year. PPD will continue to retain space at Avondale House in Strathclyde Business Park until the new facility is completed.
The company will receive a Regional Selective Assistance grant of £4.5 million ($9.1 million) toward its expansion. The grant program assists companies that relocate to or expand in “assisted” areas designated for regional aid under European Community law.
PPD has offices in 28 countries and employs more than 9,700 professionals worldwide.

Assam, Research Institute Plan Biotech Park for Guwahati, India
The government of Assam and the Tata Energy Research Institute have joined to establish a biotech park in the east Indian city of Guwahati. According to unnamed TERI sources quoted by The Times of India on July 30, Assam has already sanctioned 100 acres of land near Guwahati University and Assam Engineering College for the project. The park will facilitate education and research work in diverse areas.
“There are areas with immense potential in the region, both in terms of research and commercial activities, such as sericulture, bamboo plantation and food processing,” said Vibha Dhawan, vice chancellor of TERI University and the bioresource and biotechnology advisor to the chief minister of Assam, speaking to the newspaper.
“In the food processing industry, only pineapple has been tapped judiciously so far, but there are dozens of produce still lying untapped, which can change the face of food processing in the region. For example, there are over 50 varieties of ginger being cultivated here, yet nothing significant has been done in this area,” Dhawan added.

BIO Endorses House Bill to Reform Tax Rules for Life Sciences Companies
The Biotechnology Industry Organization on Aug. 3 announced its support for the House of Representatives bill American Life Sciences Competitiveness Act (HR 3264).
The measure would reform net operating loss rules, the research and development tax credit, and the orphan drug credit. The bill would also encourage development of new biodefense and pandemic flu countermeasures, as well as promote long-term investment in small life sciences companies struggling to raise research capital.
BIO also thanked the two House members who introduced the bill, Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-Philadelphia) and Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands, Tex.).
“As other nations continue to increase their investment policies to promote biomedical research and development, HR 3264 is an important measure to ensure that America continues as the world leader in life sciences innovation,” BIO President and CEO James Greenwood said in a press release issued by the organization to promote the bill.
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other countries.

MichBio Launches Online Registration for Oct. 16-17 Expo Set for Lansing Center
MichBio, the statewide group representing Michigan's life sciences industry, has begun online registration for its MichBio Expo, set for Oct. 16-17 at Lansing Center. The Expo is the state’s largest single gathering of life sciences professionals, drawing more than 500 participants and more than 60 exhibitors last year.
This year MichBio has doubled its number of sessions, adding new tracks on research and development, medical affairs, emerging businesses, and bio-agriculture and industrial biotechnology. Each track will include three related sessions with expert speakers addressing specific topics.
The program also includes three general sessions — "Legislative Reform 2007: What Your Life Sciences Company Doesn't Know May Cost You," "Future Trends & Technologies: Hot Topics," and "Meet the Press: Communicating with Media and Investors as You Advance Your Product to Market."
“The theme for this Expo is “Michigan Life Sciences: Gaining the Edge.” The full Expo program and individual session descriptions may be viewed here.
Keynote speakers will include James Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and LouAnna Simon, president of Michigan State University; with welcoming remarks from Virg Bernero and Samir Singh, the mayors of Lansing and East Lansing, respectively.

San Francisco Architectural Firm Launches Science & Technology Practice
Ellerbe Becket, the San Francisco architecture and engineering firm that designed the first Mayo Clinic, has launched a new practice area that focuses on technology and the life sciences sector.
Robert Bracamonte, principal and design director of the San Francisco office, will spearhead the new practice, intended to build on the firm’s year’s of designing labs and other structures for the healthcare industry. Working with Bracamonte are Beth Olson, senior project architect; and Quin Wu, architectural project captain.
Four architects previously with Gicklhorn Lazzarotto Partners have been named to the new science and technology practice — Roland Lazzarotto, a principal; Chuck Van Horn, senior laboratory planner; Dennis Tom, architectural project manager; and Martin Mitzner, an architectural designer.
Clients of the new practice include Tyco Electronics, Agilent Technologies, Trancept Pharmaceuticals, Dynavax Pharmaceuticals, Zogenix, Sangamo Biosciences, Niman Ranch, Allcells Leukolab, as well as Wareham Development, CB Richard Ellis and Grubb & Ellis.

Law Firm to Collaborate with iBIO Institute’s Propel Entrepreneurship Program
The intellectual property law firm McCracken & Frank announced Aug. 6 it will work with the educational arm of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization and its new Propel program to facilitate the development of new life sciences companies. The law firm will provide entrepreneurs with pro-bono access to specialized expertise in intellectual property law.
Attorneys from the firm and technical specialists will offer guidance on intellectual property issues to life science entrepreneurs, who receive education in business, economic and legal matters at no expense through Propel, which is modeled on San Diego Connect. To date, the iBIO Institute has attracted over $1 million in funding from major corporate donors, including Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Baxter Healthcare Corporation and Astellas US.

European Biotechnology Company Opens Regional Office in Hong Kong
Qiagen, a multinational biotechnology company headquartered in Germany, announced July 31 the opening of a new office in Hong Kong, following 10 years of working there with local partners and distributors.
"Qiagen's new subsidiary in Hong Kong has been established in response to the fast developing biomedical research community here. This underlines our commitment to Hong Kong as an important hub for life science and healthcare," said Frauke Ehlert, general manager of Qiagen China and Hong Kong, in a July 31 announcement.
Qiagen's Hong Kong office will also manage the distribution of products manufactured in Mainland China to various parts of the world.

The Scan

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.

Seagull Microbiome Altered by Microplastic Exposure

The overall diversity and the composition at gut microbiome sites appear to coincide with microplastic exposure and ingestion in two wild bird species, according to a new Nature Ecology and Evolution study.

Study Traces Bladder Cancer Risk Contributors in Organ Transplant Recipients

In eLife, genome and transcriptome sequencing reveal mutation signatures, recurrent somatic mutations, and risky virus sequences in bladder cancers occurring in transplant recipients.

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.