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AstraZeneca has been talking about the importance of expanding its network of collaborations at the JPMorgan healthcare conference in San Francisco.

Blogging from the meeting, Shaun Grady, vice president of strategic partnering and business development at the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, noted that AstraZeneca and its MedImmune unit have a team of 60 "scouting for opportunities that fit our therapeutic and commercial focus". He added that the firm has scheduled a record number of meetings at the event, approximately 320 in total.

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Venture capitalists invested $1.4 billion in digital health companies in 2012, according to a report from Rock Health, FierceHealthIT reports (Gold, FierceHealthIT, 1/8).

The figure represents a 45% increase from the $986 million invested in 2011. In addition, the total number of venture capital deals in the digital health sector increased by 56% between 2011 and 2012.

Techcouncilmd

The Tech Council of Maryland called on legislators Monday to triple the funding for the state's research and development tax credit and double the scope of its popular biotech tax credit, among other measures.

The Tech Council of Maryland places the expansion of the R&D credit from $6 million to $18 million among its top priorities for the 2013 General Assembly session, which convenes in Annapolis on Wednesday. The measure failed to win approval last year despite passing the Senate. The Tech Council also wants to see that credit made available for companies that haven't yet reached profitability.

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Life sciences company Plasmonix will begin selling its first product, QuantArray, early this year. The Baltimore County startup plans to commercialize two other products later in 2013, the QuantaWell 100 and the Quanta NP, and will seek $2 million to $3 million for another round of financing, CEO William Gjust says.

Plasmonix’ develops support tools to detect cells in medical research and clinical diagnostics by enhancing luminescent and fluorescent signals using metal nanoparticles. QuantArray, its latest product, has various applications in performing assays, a test that analyzes components, and enhances luminescent signals hundred-fold over conventional methods. The technology can be be applied not only in the life sciences, but also apparel, paint and cosmetics. 

Qiagen

QIAGEN N.V. (NASDAQ: QGEN; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) today announced three separate agreements that add multiple biomarkers to QIAGEN's deep development pipeline of diagnostics for Personalized Healthcare applications to guide treatments with various medicines based on a patient's genomic information.

QIAGEN intends to develop new diagnostics to guide treatment decisions (including companion diagnostics paired with medicines) based on these biomarkers for use in therapeutic areas such as rheumatoid arthritis, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Most of these assays will be designed to run on the QIAsymphony RGQ modular laboratory workflow automation system as well as QIAGEN's next-generation sequencing workflows currently in development. By guiding treatment decisions for specific therapies in individual patients, the use of these biomarkers as companion diagnostics can help improve patient outcomes and better utilize healthcare resources.

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New Enterprise Associates raised the most money of any venture capital firm in 2012.

New Enterprise, headquartered in Chevy Chase and has a Timonium office, raised $2.6 billion last year. That topped the 182 venture capital firms that raised a total of $20.6 billion in 2012, according to Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association. That dollar figure was up 10 percent from 2011.

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Rockville-based MacroGenics Inc. has struck a drug development deal with Gilead Sciences Inc. that could ultimately be worth $1 billion.

The licensing agreement is for the development and potential commercialization for drugs directed at up to four undisclosed targets.

DHHS

HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration has announced plans to distribute $1.9 million for the creation of six telehealth resource centers, mHIMSS reports (Wicklund, mHIMSS, 1/3).

About the Grants HRSA is administering the grants through the Telehealth Resource Center Grant Program, which provides funding to projects that use telehealth networks to improve health care services (Roney, Becker's Hospital Review, 1/4).

The grants will help launch five regional centers and one national center.

HRSA will administer grants of up to:

  • $325,000 for each regional center; and
  • $300,000 for the national center.

IBBR logo

IBBR (www.ibbr.umd.edu) is a joint research institute, which brings together partner institutions including the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP); University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The next Director will have the opportunity to recruit faculty and staff, acquire needed instrumentation for transformational research, develop new and innovative technological solutions, and create partnerships with commercial entities to facilitate translation to clinical practice.

The University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are seeking an outstanding individual to serve as Director of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) with the vision of making IBBR a premier biotechnology research institute. A primary role of the new Director will be to lead and significantly expand a joint NIST/UM research effort that combines basic, measurement and translational research for the development, manufacturing and standardization of advanced therapeutics and supporting diagnostics.

For more information: Position Description

glaxosmithkline

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been ranked first among global pharmaceuticals companies assessed for their efforts to improve access to medicine in developing countries, in the 2012 Access to Medicine (ATM) Index released recently by the Access to Medicine Foundation.

An independent initiative, the Access to Medicine Index ranks the world’s 20 largest companies according to their efforts to make their products more available, affordable and accessible in developing countries, highlighting policy and practice that either facilitate or hinder access to medicine.

SBIR STTR

On December 27, 2012, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) published a final rule to amend regulations governing eligibility for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs and to implement provisions of the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Act of 2011. The Reauthorization was included in the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which reauthorized the SBIR Program for six years and now allows small firms that are majority-owned by venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds, or private equity firms to compete for SBIR grants.

This advisory briefly summarizes the most important changes to the SBIR eligibility rules and discusses how investments in or acquisitions of SBIR-funded companies may be affected.

Hrabowski-Freeman-umd

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has joined the board of T. Rowe Price Group as an independent director, the Baltimore-based investment firm announced Thursday.

Hrabowski has led the university since 1992, and was recognized last year by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. According to Price, Hrabowski sits on a number of civic boards, including the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Urban Institute, the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the France-Merrick Foundation. He also serves as a director for McCormick & Co. Inc. and the Baltimore Equitable Society.

winslow-raimond-jhu

"Disease is too complex to just think your way through it," says Raimond Winslow, director of The Institute for Computational Medicine at Johns Hopkins. "We can no longer work with what I call purely mental models of how biological systems function in either health or disease."

Thankfully, we have technology to lend a hand.

The burgeoning and highly complex field of computational medicine is showing promise for the treatment of illnesses such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer and more, as technology and troves of data are harnessed to investigate the underpinnings and map the progression of diseases.

emergent-logo

Emergent Biosolutions Inc. said it has secured exclusive right to manufacture and sell VaxInnate Corp.'s pandemic influenza vaccine candidate in the United States.

Under a license agreement with VaxInnate, Emergent Biosolutions acquired exclusive U.S. commercial rights to next generation pandemic influenza vaccine candidate.

This license enables Emergent to fulfill the requirement to secure a pandemic influenza vaccine candidate under its contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the company noted.