Maryland

Biotech companies in Virginia, Maryland and Washington are better served by meeting challenges as a region, industry experts say.

One reason, according to Peter Greenleaf, president of MedImmune, is that as with many other industries, biotech is facing increasing pressure from Asian companies and investors.

In 2011, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed Greenleaf chairman of the Maryland Venture Fund Authority. MedImmune is affiliated with AstraZeneca, based in Gaithersburg, Md., and is one of the region’s largest biotech companies.

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For Art Jacoby, the new CEO of the Tech Council of Maryland, the right leadership can be a “game changer.”

Jacoby hopes to be such a catalyst as he assumes this role at the Rockville trade group, which has more than 400 members. The council — which supports Maryland’s 10,000-plus technology businesses, including more than 500 life science businesses — is working to address six areas: education, advocacy, access to capital, access to new markets, community support and membership benefit.

Jacoby takes over from Renée Winsky, who resigned in December after two years. He spent almost eight months as interim CEO before taking the job on a more permanent basis in August.

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Society needs to “take seriously the rewards for innovators” through the patent system to improve the biotech investing climate, New Enterprise Associates Inc. General Partner James Barrett said Thursday.

Speaking before a crowd at the Mid-Atlantic BIO conference, held in Bethesda this week by the MdBio division of the Tech Council of Maryland, VaBio and the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association, Barrett voiced a defense of stronger intellectual property protections for bio entrepreneurs.

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The drug company GlaxoSmithKline employs 12,687 people in its research and development division to search for and test new drugs. Despite that huge staff, around half of the company's $6.3 billion R&D budget goes to people who don't work for Glaxo at all.

The money instead flows to companies like Epizyme, a small biotechnology firm that, since last year, has received $24 million from Glaxo to support research on a novel type of cancer drug. That's money the biotech firm needs to survive, and if its efforts yield a drug, that would be a success for Glaxo, too.

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After the announcement late last month from Science Applications International Corp. that it will split into two publicly traded companies, CEO John Jumper said Thursday that the spinoff “technical services” company will be located in the Washington area, while the second company is likely remain at its corporate headquarters, an 18-acre Tysons Corner campus.

"It's reasonable to think that some of them will stay there," Jumper said after speaking at a breakfast event held by the Northern Virginia Technology Council. "It's reasonable to assume that the other company will be somewhere in the Washington area. ... It's very safe to say it'll be very close to where we are right now.

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A collaborative research team, including nine experts from NCATS, was honored last month for its work on an investigational treatment for Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC), a rare genetic disease of cholesterol storage that eventually leads to neurodegeneration. Comprising investigators from four NIH institutes and one pharmaceutical company, the team won the Excellence in Technology Transfer Award for its work with 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPβCD) as a potential treatment for NPC ― a disease for which there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved therapies.

It is the first award of its kind to NCATS, recognizing laboratory employees and their partners who have outstanding accomplishments in transferring federally developed technology to the marketplace. The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer (FLC) of the mid-Atlantic region presented the award to the investigators at a ceremony on Aug. 30, 2012, in Cambridge, Md.

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The University of Maryland is one of the best in the nation for entrepreneurship education, according to a ranking published today by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. The university’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business is recognized for its leading entrepreneurship programs for undergraduate and graduate students, ranking No. 14 and No. 24 respectively. The Dingman Center is a major driver of entrepreneurship education on campus and in the region, championing programs for students, faculty and area entrepreneurs. It was the only program in the Washington-Baltimore region recognized on either list.

The Dingman Center, located at the Smith School, helps lead the university’s entrepreneurship efforts and is recognized nationally for its innovative teaching methods that combine classroom activities, practical experience and cultural immersion programs. The center’s programs include:

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The TB Vaccine Accelerator, a program to strengthen the pipeline of tuberculosis (TB) vaccine candidates and enable a more rational and accelerated vaccine development process, is launching a grant opportunity that is part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health—a large set of grant programs aimed at overcoming persistent bottlenecks that prevent the creation of effective health solutions for the developing world.

This grant opportunity, the first public request for applications (RFA) launched by the TB Vaccine Accelerator, focuses on two interrelated program goals:

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University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park are moving forward with plans for a collaborative school of public health, administrators said Tuesday.

The two schools have begun the national accreditation process for a single public health school. The move would combine their individual public health schools in an effort to pool resources and expand opportunities for students.

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Bethesda-based BrainScope is the first recipient of capital financing from InvestMaryland.

The deal was announced by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley Tuesday.

BrianScope will receive the first $250,000 investment from the venture capital program to further spearhead neurotechnology to quickly assess traumatic brain injury at the initial point of care.

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Maryland’s young biotechs hoping to spark interest in investment and partnerships will be among the 750-plus industry, state and venture capital executives expected to attend the annual Mid-Atlantic Biotech Conference in North Bethesda on Thursday and Friday.

After three years of trying to snag a pitch presentation slot at the conference, CC Biotech in Rockville will be among the companies vying for investor attention this week.

At least 13 Maryland biotechs will be presenting this year in both startup and early-stage levels.

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The University of Maryland, College Park ranks among the top 25 schools in the U.S. for its entrepreneurship programs.

Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine compiled the rankings by reviewing more than 2,000 schools’ levels of commitment to entrepreneurship; the percentage of their faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors; and the number and reach of their mentorship programs. Funding for scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects, and their support for school-sponsored business plan competitions were also considered.

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Are you an entrepreneur in need of a jump start?

The InvestMaryland Challenge is a national seed and early-stage business competition hosted by the State of Maryland. The Challenge will award $300,000 in grants and a host of business services to companies in the life sciences and high tech industries. Companies also have the opportunity to receive direct investments from venture capital firms and angel investors.

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What if you had the power to save a life? What would you do with it? How would you share it?

J. Roberto Trujillo, President & CEO, TruBios, LLC, which is located on the university’s Montgomery County Campus, is working diligently to answer these tough questions as he sets a lofty goal for his company and its affiliates and subsidiaries: to eradicate all viral diseases in the Americas within the next 38 years. He and his colleagues call this goal Project 2050. One of the first diseases they’re targeting is cervical cancer.

According to Trujillo, 80% of cervical cancer cases can be found in developing countries where the resources needed to treat these kinds of diseases are scarce.

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When Lynn Johnson Langer, a faculty member in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ Advanced Academic Programs, began her career as a microbiologist at the National Institutes of Health, one of the first things that struck her was the dichotomy between business and science.

“Businesspeople and scientists didn’t speak each other’s language,” Langer says. “They didn’t always respect each other.”

When she transitioned out of NIH and into the business world, she further saw just how far apart the two worlds were, and how seldom the two seemed able to “play nicely in the sandbox.”