CMS

In a strong show of support for more effective, more affordable, higher quality health care, 45 commercial, federal and State insurers in seven markets today pledged to work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to give more Americans access to quality health care at lower cost.

Under the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative, CMS will pay primary care practices a care management fee, initially set at an average of $20 per beneficiary per month, to support enhanced, coordinated services.  Simultaneously, participating commercial, State, and other federal insurance plans are also offering an enhanced payment to primary care practices that provide high-quality primary care.  

SBIR STTR

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently announced a new Program Announcement, aimed at accelerating the development and commercialization of consumer health information technology products that translate the behavioral and communication science evidence base for the prevention and control of cancer and other chronic diseases. The NCI and the National Library of Medicine (a co-funding partner) are interested in supporting the development and dissemination of evidence-based health information technology (health IT) products that have the potential to:

  • Prevent or reduce the risk of cancer 
  • Facilitate patient-provider communication and/or 
  • Improve disease outcomes in consumer and clinical settings

A non-exclusive list of product examples relevant to the FOA are provided below.

PhaseBio

PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing drugs to treat diabetes, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease, has closed its Series B round with a total of $48.4 million, the company announced. The round closed after a third tranche.

PhaseBio is backed by New Enterprise Associates, Astellas Venture Management, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Hatteras Venture Partners and Fletcher Spaght Ventures.

Serial entrepreneur panel small

A panel of entrepreneurs told the Maryland Economic Development Commission on Tuesday that Maryland needs to commercialize more discoveries made in academic and government labs and improve the entrepreneurial culture if the state hopes to compete with traditional hubs of innovation.

“You ain’t gonna replicate Silicon Valley and Boston in many places around the world. What Maryland has is unrivaled research assets that, basically, most states cannot compete with,” said Rich Bendis, interim CEO of BioHealth Innovation Inc. “The difference is, we’re talking about culture. It’s the entrepreneurial culture that’s different in those other cities.”

Bendis said Maryland’s stature is improving in the eyes of entrepreneurs and those tasked with supporting startups.

DHHS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), along with the Institute of Medicine (IoM) and other members of the Health Data Consortium, are co-hosting the third annual “Datapalooza” focusing on innovative applications and services that harness the power of open data from HHS and other sources to help improve health and health care.

The Health Data Initiative Forum III is featuring more than 100 new or updated solutions, up from 45 solutions last year, that help serve the needs of consumers, health care providers, employers, public health leaders, and policy makers.

“The innovators present today are a great example of how data and technology can be used in powerful ways to help consumers and providers improve health,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We’re not just creating new technology, but we’re empowering Americans to make better decisions about health and health care by putting information at their fingertips.”

Techcouncilmd

The Tech Council of Maryland (TCM), Maryland's largest technology trade association with more than 400 biotechnology and technology members employing more than 200,000 in the region, announced that it has moved into a new headquarters at 9210 Corporate Blvd., Suite 470 in Rockville, a short distance from its previous offices on Key West Ave. All phone numbers and e-mail addresses for TCM staff remain the same.

"The move to Corporate Blvd. accomplishes several things for the association," said Art Jacoby, TCM's CEO. "The space offers us a far better layout, which enables improved internal teaming, communication and productivity. And, it's 'right-sized,' so we're achieving some operating expense savings, as well. The staff and I are very excited and see this move as a fresh start the plans we have to strengthen TCM in the future."

Pharma Dollars

Counter-intuitive as it may be, investing in areas that pharma is abandoning could yield great returns for investors. Just look at anti-bacterials in the ’90s and 2000s, says VC Bruce Booth in a Forbes column. So where should investors be looking today? Neuroscience, heart failure and obesity.

The shortage of cancer drugs that’s plagued hospitals for almost two years now has eased, although not completely, according to cancer doctors.

A recent study by Johns Hopkins researchers brings a reality check to the potential (and the limits) of genome sequencing in predicting disease.

MD Incubator

The 12th Annual Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards, supported by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED), the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), McGladrey, Inc. and Saul Ewing, is coming up.

The ceremony will recognize the achievement and potential among 18 current and graduate companies within Maryland's incubator network. Chris Brandenburg from Millennial Media, who received the 2008 information technology Incubator Company of the Year award, will be the keynote speaker. The event will also feature technology demonstrations by the finalist companies.

Bwtech-UMBC

The incubator at University of Maryland, Baltimore County has gotten an influx of new tenants, the majority of whom are responding to the increased demand for cyber security. 

bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park currently hosts 86 incubator and early-stage tenants and 14 affiliated companies and organizations, according to Gregory Simmons, the park's vice president for institutional advancement.

Of the tenants, nearly 20 have joined the park in the past 18 months alone. They include Fearless Solutions, Rogue Technology, AIS (Assured Information Security) Inc., all of which are in the cyber security field.  Simmons says that most of the new tenants are also in that field, often in the area of securing data and networks, in medical, defense and financial services, among others.

immunomic-therapeutics

Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc., ("ITI") a privately-held biotechnology company with laboratories in Rockville, MD, announced that it has been accepted to present at the Business Forum during the 2012 Bio International Convention. ITI's CEO, Bill Hearl, will present progress in internal development of LAMP-vax™ vaccines as well as opportunities for co-development.

JRC-LAMP-vax vaccine incorporates Immunomic Therapeutics' proprietary LAMP Technology™. LAMP (Lysosomal Associated Membrane Protein) is a normal and important component of the immune system that is present in the lysosome of all mammals. Incorporating LAMP Technology into vaccine design enables direct presentation of

immunomic-therapeutics

Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc., ("ITI," Lancaster, PA) a privately-held biotechnology company with laboratories in Rockville, MD, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed its review of the Investigational New Drug Application ("IND") filed for the allergy immunotherapy, JRC- LAMP-vax™.  On April 12th, the FDA notified ITI that there will be no clinical hold and that ITI may now proceed with its clinical trial in June for JRC-LAMP-vax in Atlanta with subjects sensitive to Japanese Red Cedar pollen.

JRC-LAMP-Vax is a plasmid-based DNA vaccine that will be studied for the treatment of patients with rhino-conjunctivitis (runny nose) symptoms caused by allergic reaction to Japanese red cedar pollen. Almost 45% of the Japanese people are allergic to Japanese red cedar pollen. In North America, there is allergic rhinitis to mountain cedar pollen, which is 80% cross-reactive with Japanese red cedar pollen allergen.  ITI intends to partner with a Japanese pharmaceutical company for studies in Japan and will seek FDA approval of the vaccine in the US.

Merck

With pharmaceutical industry research budgets shrinking, large drug companies are instead looking to support early-stage biotechnology startups. Merck, Eli Lilly, and GlaxoSmithKline have all announced investments in such companies in recent months.

The multinational drug giants are moving to partner with venture-capital firms and nascent biotechnology companies in hopes of feeding their drug development pipelines. "We are going toward external innovation. We're dealing with more academics and biotechs than we ever have," said James Schaeffer, Merck Research Laboratories' director of West Coast licensing and external research, speaking at a BioVentures's C21 conference in California last week.

NewImage

Thousands upon thousands of brilliant, motivated, hard working—and legal—immigrants live in the United States. Every year additional highly educated professionals arrive to study and work. Here they make their first attempts at practical use of the English they learned growing up. Now they must speak and write English at jobs and in schools, both of which are highly competitive.

Like the ancestors, or maybe even just the moms and dads of American-born citizens, these individuals have earned the right to be here and have followed the required regulations. Many of them have terrific English. Regardless of their accents, or whether they learned British- or American-style English, they write and speak well. They are excellent people to work with because they bring new knowledge and ideas to the table. They are also fun to socialize with in non-work environments because they bring new knowledge, ideas, and perspectives to the table.

Accelerator

Accelerator, the venture-backed biotech startup machine, has made its name over the past decade as a hotspot for financing life sciences companies in Seattle with big dreams and potential. Now it’s considering expanding its model for starting biotech companies in other life science clusters around the world, including New York.

Plans are still in the exploratory stage, but the idea is that Accelerator would remain headquartered in Seattle and build a network of satellite labs in four or five other locations around the world, says Carl Weissman, the co-founder and CEO of Accelerator. Accelerator’s existing venture backers, and some potential new investors, have expressed interest in a more far-reaching version of Accelerator, Weissman says.