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University of California, San Diego, Pacific Regional Biosafety Laboratory, National Institutes of Health, University of Hawaii, Genzyme, New Mexico Department of Economic Development, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Oregon Economic and Community Develo

UC San Diego Wins Regents’ Approval to Plan New 150K Sq. Ft. Biomedical Building
The University of California’s Board of Regents has approved conceptual plans by UC San Diego for a new 150,000-square-foot health sciences biomedical research facility on the school’s health sciences campus in La Jolla, Calif.
UCSD has estimated the project will cost between $118 million and $135 million. A more precise estimate will come after UC completes the project’s planning phase, which will include site selection and identification of infrastructure support; determination of facility size and detailed space program; schematic design; detailed cost estimates and schedules; and identification of funding. Once plan details are worked out, UCSD will return to the Regents to request final approval to build the project.
To date, UCSD has selected the project’s architectural firm, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects; and has agreed the new facility will include a new multi-department program in genomic medicine and an expanded department of neurosciences.
In a statement, the school said the new building was needed to accommodate recent and projected growth in research activities in the School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, reflected in a 60-percent increase in research funding over the past five years.

National Institutes of Health, U of Hawaii Combine for $10M Toward Biosafety Lab
The National Institutes of Health and the University of Hawaii will shell out a combined $10 million in additional funding to cover development cost overruns for the Pacific Regional Biosafety Laboratory planned for Kakaako, Pacific Business News of Honolulu reported.
NIH has agreed to spend another $7.5 million, with the remaining $2.5 million to come from UH — which has blamed the overrun on rising construction costs. The project in 2005 received $37.5 million, including a $25 million grant from NIH and $12.5 million in state matching funds.
Construction of the three-story, 38,400-square-foot building initially was scheduled to begin in summer 2007 and be completed by the end of 2009, with the lab starting operations in 2010. A new start date for construction has not been set.
The lab, which will be built next to the John A. Burns School of Medicine, will house researchers to study infectious diseases threatening Hawaii and the Pacific.

Genzyme’s Genetics Division Planning to Add 45 Jobs at Santa Fe, NM, Facility
Genzyme’s genetics division in Santa Fe, NM, is expected to add 45 jobs to its workforce of 300 over the next three years following an expansion announced last week by New Mexico’s Economic Development Department.
Genzyme Genetics opened its diagnostic testing center in Santa Fe in 1992 and has expanded its New Mexico operations since then to about 60,000 square feet in five buildings on nine acres at 2000 Vivigen Way. The facility was one of the first labs in the US to offer a seven-day turnaround time for prenatal cytogenetic testing, such as amniocentesis, and has grown since then to also conduct fluorescent in situ hybridization and biochemical testing.
In a news release issued by EDD, Mike Sapeta, Genzyme's operations director, cited “New Mexico's high wage jobs tax credit, the manufacturers investment tax credit, JTIP [the job training incentive program], and the state's high quality workforce” as factors in the company’s decision to expand in New Mexico. The release did not quantify how much of these or other economic incentives Genzyme will receive in return for creating the jobs.
"We plan to be here for quite some time," Sapeta added in the release.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners Joins Investors in VC Round for $100-Genome Startup
The Pennsylvania-funded Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania has joined with another seed investor and three private venture capital firms to participate in a $5.1 million series A funding round for BioNanomatrix, a Philadelphia life sciences company aiming to make personalized genetic profiles available for $100, the company has announced.
Battelle Ventures of Princeton, NJ, led the venture capital round. Other investors included Valley Partners and KT Venture Group, and seed investor 21Ventures.
Last year, BioNanomatrix was awarded an $8.8 million federal grant with its collaborator, Complete Genomics of Mountain View, Calif., to develop a system capable of producing a $100 genome.

Medical Device Company Wins Preliminary Nod for RI’s Innovation Tax Credit
An early-stage medical device company was one of three companies to win preliminary approval from the public-private Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. earlier this month for the state’s Innovation Tax Credit.
Isis Biopolymer of Warwick is seeking a credit in the biotechnology and life sciences category toward development of its electronic transdermal patch to allow non-invasive, remote-controlled drug delivery. The bandage-like patch is waterproof and can be used to administer a seven-day supply of as many as three medications. A radio-frequency ID antenna and chip in each patch helps to provide an electronic record of the date, time and quantity of medicine administered.
Isis now operates within four laboratories totaling 18,000 square feet in Warwick, with an option for additional lab space.
Under a 2006 state law, the RIEDC can award up to $100,000 in state income-tax credits to a company for distribution to investors, employees or a new executive as a signing bonus. Credits can be shared by up to 10 individuals, and cannot be sold. But the program’s future is cloudy, since it is among tax credits slated for elimination under the “Economic Growth and Fairness Act of 2008” (H-7950 and S-2668), now under review by the state General Assembly.

Oregon Eyes Divorcing Public Works from Economic and Community Development Dept.
A commission that oversees Oregon’s Economic and Community Development Department has recommended the agency spin out its public works responsibilities and concentrate on attracting and retaining businesses and their jobs to the state, as well as helping small businesses and promoting Oregon products.
The public works functions, such as overseeing upgrades to sewer systems, would shift to another agency yet to be determined. "These have been two cultures that should not live under one roof, a Legislature that tries to see them as one piece, and everything goes downhill from there," Nancy Hamilton, deputy chief of staff to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, told the Associated Press.
The governor, she said, believes the split would help officials focus on workforce development and other emerging economic development initiatives, such as the state's $37.2 million spent toward its Engineering and Technology Industry Council, or the Corvallis, Ore.-based Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.
But the split would also address criticism by state lawmakers that the agency had been less aggressive than neighboring Washington in pursuing international trade and pinpointing sites that could be redeveloped quickly, the wire service reported.

ASU, Scottsdale, Ariz., Open First Building of ‘SkySong’ Global Business Center
Arizona State University and the City of Scottsdale have opened the first, 157,000-square-foot building within SkySong, a global business and innovation center at Scottsdale Road and McDowell Road. SkySong is intended as both a global business innovation hub, and a catalyst for economic revitalization within southern Scottsdale.
The facility has established partnerships with more than 20 global startups and mid-sized companies — including businesses from Ireland, China, India, Japan, Turkey, Mexico, and Singapore. SkySong will also house over 10 ASU operations, including the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, ASU Technopolis, and the Enterprise Arizona Venture Center.
A second building is under construction with completion scheduled for mid- to late summer. A garage is expected to be completed this summer, to be followed by construction of 325 housing units. Negotiations are proceeding for a business-class hotel on the fourth corner of the main intersection, ASU stated in a news release.
The university said in its release the entire SkySong project is slated for completion by 2015, ahead of schedule. When completed, SkySong will include 1.2 million square feet of high-tech commercial office and research space, as well as retail space and 800 residential units.

Shelton, Conn., Biotech Company Honored by CI for Growth After Move from New York
Connecticut Innovations, the state's quasi-public authority responsible for technology investing and innovation development, has awarded Cara Therapeutics of Shelton, Conn., its “Most Promising New Portfolio Company Award.”
Cara, a biotechnology company focused on developing therapeutics to treat human diseases associated with pain and inflammation, relocated within the New York City suburbs last year, moving to Shelton from the Landmark at Eastview office-lab complex in Tarrytown, NY.
Cara was among businesses honored by CI on March 26 at its Annual Technology Celebration. The event, held at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington, Conn., drew more than 350 members of the state's technology community.

BIO Enlists Gen. Colin Powell for Address at San Diego International Convention
Retired Gen. and former secretary of state Colin Powell will address attendees of the 2008 Biotechnology Industry Association International Convention, set for June 17-20 at the San Diego Convention Center. Powell will deliver his speech, titled "Leadership: Taking Charge," on June 19.
Powell served as secretary of state to President Bush from 2001-05. A four-star general, Powell retired from the US Army in 1993 following a 35-year career in which he won two Presidential Medals of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989-1993, and also served as a key aide to secretary of defense Casper Weinberger and national security advisor during the administration of President Ronald Reagan (1981-89).
He sits on the board of directors of Revolution Health Group, a company developing strategies for consumer-directed health care.

BIO anticipates more than 20,000 industry leaders, government officials, and others will attend its 2008 International Convention, which will employ the themes of healing, fueling, and feeding the world.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.