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This day-long event will explore the opportunities for accelerating technology transfer in those universities that have not traditionally focused on this activity. It will demonstrate how this has been successfully achieved at places like Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer rose from 98th to 26th in the AUTM rankings within 4 years. It has increased disclosures from less than 100 to more than 300 a year and start ups from less than 5 to more than 10 a year. Other institutions like The Ohio State University are doing similar things. These newly emerged academic centers in technology transfer are showing how even late-comers can make the quantum leap in technology transfer.

Maryland

Maryland has the foundation on which it can grow a robust environment of high-tech, innovative start-ups, but needs a stronger angel and venture capital network, more support for entrepreneurs and better programs to nurture young, creative minds, a group of business leaders said Tuesday.

"There's no reason Maryland can't be an entrepreneurial hotbed like Austin or Boston or Silicon Valley," said John M. Wasilisin, executive vice president of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). "We have our challenges, but our assets are off the charts, our education system and our quality of life, our access to federal facilities."

Loyola

Loyola University Maryland and Wasabi Ventures, a California-based venture capital firm with a presence in Baltimore, named the first three companies participating in the business accelerator program the two organizations operate in the Govans community of North Baltimore. They are:

- CodePupil, an educational technology system that teaches software coding;

- PointClickSwitch.com, an energy choice platform that gives residential customers the ability to compare supplier offers, enroll, and save;

- and Vidstructor, a software company enabling interactive video training platforms for businesses.

Harry Weller

Four New Enterprise Associates (NEA) venture capitalists were named to Forbes Midas List of Tech Investors, which aims to single out the top 100 venture capitalists that provide "the best returns for their investors, while helping create the most valuable and impactful technology and life science companies."

Scott Sandell from the firm's Menlo Park office ranked highest at 14th. He was joined by Chevy Chase, Md. based Harry Weller (17), Peter Barris (23), both stalwarts on the Midas list, and "newcomer" James Barrett.

Weller's and Barris' biggest deal was in Groupon while Barret's was in Pharmion.

WhiteHouse

President Barack Obama’s administration rolled out its National Bioeconomy Blueprint last week, on April 26. It details measures by which Washington intends to apply biological innovations toward national challenges that include health, food, energy, and the environment.

At the top of the Blueprint’s five priorities is supporting “R&D investments that will provide the foundation for the future U.S. bioeconomy.” Also on the list: increasing the focus on translational and regulatory sciences, reforming regulations, updating training programs, and identifying and supporting opportunities for public-private partnerships.

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It was exciting to see the creation this week of the New York Digital Health Accelerator in New York. The New York State Department of Health, the New York City Investment Fund and the New York eHealth Collaborative all have partnered to provide funding, mentoring support, development expertise and more to health app startups in the state. 

The group is awarding $300,000 each to 12 startups that are producing apps for care coordination, patient engagement, analytics and messaging. The deadline to apply is June 1. What we'll really be watching for, though, is to see if other states follow suit, and fund health startups in, say, Nebraska or Mississippi. Such localized startup/development support really could be a boon for hospitals trying to develop their own clinical apps. Most incubator programs thus far have been in New York or California, leaving hospitals in the rest of the country out of the running.

BioPARK University of Maryland

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, April 24, 2012 – The University of Maryland BioPark announced today thatBahija Jallal, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research and Development at MedImmune, has been appointed as the newest member of the UM Health Sciences Research Park Corporation (RPC) Board of Directors.

“The BioPark leadership team is thrilled to welcome Dr. Jallal – a seasoned life science research and development leader ¬– to the Research Park Corporation’s board of directors,” said RPC President James Hughes, who also serves as the Vice President and Chief Enterprise & Economic Development Officer for the University of Maryland. “Her experience within leading biopharmaceutical companies will bring additional industry perspective to our project. It’s a privilege to have Dr. Jallal on our board.”

Dr. Jallal is a member of both MedImmune’s executive team as well as the R&D leadership team of parent company AstraZeneca. She joined MedImmune as Vice President, Translational Sciences, in March 2006 and has since held positions of increasing responsibility. Dr. Jallal now oversees research, development, regulatory and clinical activities conducted by a team of more than 2,500 employees based at MedImmune’s Maryland, California, and Cambridge, UK sites. Dr. Jallal has guided the MedImmune R&D organization through unprecedented growth and expansion of its biologics pipeline from 40 drugs to more than 140. Dr. Jallal is passionate about leading and shaping MedImmune’s rich pipeline of drugs targeting cancer, infections, respiratory and inflammatory diseases, cardio-vascular and gastrointestinal disorders and pain to ultimately develop new medicines for patients.

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In a move that combines an interest in improving health outcomes with a desire to create jobs and boost the state economy, the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) have partnered with the New York City Investment Fund to launch the New York Digital Health Accelerator (NYDHA). The program will subsidize health IT startups and link them with "senior advisors" from New York healthcare organizations to accelerate the development of useful new products.

Within the next few months, the program will choose 12 "early- and growth-stage companies" that are developing products in the areas of care coordination, patient engagement, data analytics and message alerts for healthcare providers. In addition to the mentoring, each selected company will receive up to $300,000 to help create solutions designed to improve quality of care for the state's Medicaid recipients, according to a NYDHA announcement.

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David Brennan's move to retire as AstraZeneca's (NYSE:AZN) CEO in June did not come as a surprise to those who had been urging for a change at the top over the company's drug development shortcomings. In an industry that walks a tightrope between innovation and regulation and the financial considerations that frame them, there are two critical characteristics that can undermine a CEO:being too bold or not bold enough. Brennan was a bit of both.

His leadership was bookended by two acquisitions -- a $15.2 billion deal for MedImmune, a drug developer with a focus on influenza vaccines and the $1.26 billion purchase of biotechnology business Ardea Biosciences.

Whitehouse
“The world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than America.”
—President Obama, December 6, 2011

Economic activity that is fueled by research and innovation in the biological sciences, the “bioeconomy,” is a large and rapidly growing segment of the world economy that provides substantial public benefit. The bioeconomy has emerged as an Obama Administration priority because of its tremendous potential for growth as well as the many other societal benefits it offers. It can allow Americans to live longer, healthier lives, reduce our dependence on oil, address key environmental challenges, transform manu- facturing processes, and increase the productivity and scope of the agricultural sector while growing new jobs and industries.

Decades of life-sciences research and the development of increasingly powerful tools for obtaining and using biological data have brought us closer to the threshold of a previously unimaginable future: “ready to burn” liquid fuels produced directly from CO2, biodegradable plastics made not from oil but from renewable biomass, tailored food products to meet specialized dietary requirements, personalized medical treatments based on a patient’s own genomic information, and novel biosensors for real-time monitoring of the environment. Increasingly,scientists and engineers are looking to augment biological research with approaches from other scientific disciplines for solutions to our most demanding scientific and societal challenges and seeing exciting options that will profoundly affect our future.

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Growing diagnostic test developer Nodality Inc. is losing its first CEO, but the venture capital world is gaining another experienced life sciences entrepreneur.

Dr. David Parkinson will join New Enterprise Associates as a venture partner. He initially will be interim chief medical officer of NEA-backed Zyngenia Inc., a young Gaithersburg, Md., company targeting cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Parkinson leaves Nodality -- named “Most Promising Company” at the Personalized Medicine World Conference last year -- as the 40-person South San Francisco company forges ahead with a hybrid strategy of selling its tests into clinics and striking deals with drug developers. In the face of changes in the medical diagnostics industry, it’s a model that just might be used by more companies.

Gate Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now accepting nominations for the second annual Gates Vaccine Innovation Award. The award aims to recognize, celebrate, and spur transformative ideas for achieving health impact through the delivery of vaccines. Nominations will be accepted through August 31, 2012.

“Vaccines work to give children a healthy start in life,” said Steve Landry, interim director of vaccine delivery at the Gates Foundation. “New ways of thinking about age old vaccine delivery problems are essential to ensure that all children have access to the vaccines they need.”

nanotechnology

The results of the human trials are startling. Even at a lower-than-usual dose, multiple lung metastases shrank or even disappeared after one patient received only two-hour-long intravenous infusions of an experimental cancer drug. Another patient saw her cervical tumor reduce by nearly 60 percent after six months of treatment. Though the drug trial—by Bind Biosciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts—of an experimental nanotechnology-based technique was designed simply to show whether the technology is safe, the encouraging results revive hopes that nanomedicine could realize its elusive promise.

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IT WAS once only drug firms that developed drugs. But this is changing. Take the case of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a Parkinson’s disease charity. On April 19th it announced that it would pay for a clinical trial of a drug developed by Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical giant, that might treat the mental symptoms of the disease.

The deal is the latest sign of a broader shift—one that is driven by desperation. Patents on blockbuster drugs are expiring. Research and development (R&D) have grown less productive, with billions of dollars yielding only a trickle of drugs.

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The cost of sequencing the human genome continues to fall, reaching a low of $1,000 this year due to a new microchip and machine designed by genetics company Life Technologies Corp. And unleashed by those lower costs, a small cadre of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley is exploring ways to harness this data to enable us to live longer and healthier lives.

Dr. Dietrich Stephan, a human geneticist, has spent the better part of a decade trying to achieve that goal. Until recently, it has been costly and time-consuming to map the 3 billion units of DNA, known as base-pairs, which make up the human genetic code. But now, he said, with the low cost of gene sequencing technologies, we are on the brink of banishing a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine.

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Cambridge’s most prolific life sciences entrepreneur, Andy Richards, says the local cluster is attracting more cash and global kudos than at any time in its history.

Dr Richards says a number of ‘secret’ investments in the UK sector have created a far healthier funding environment than available figures would suggest.

A serial angel investor in Cambridge’s European-leading BiomedTech cluster, Dr Richards is also its most passionate evangelist and believes it has never ridden so high in its quarter-century evolution.

Pfizer

For years, drug companies have known that their days of plenty were numbered, that the moment would arrive when the best-selling drugs that had driven two decades’ worth of profits would lose their patent protection and succumb to competition from generic alternatives. Without new blockbusters to replace them, profits would tumble.

For Pfizer, that day has arrived. Pfizer profited from hits like Lipitor and Viagra, and swallowed up smaller companies from the 1990s onward.

But it has no immediate successor to Lipitor, the best-selling drug in history, which lost patent protection last fall. The problem was punctuated on Tuesday when the company said that profit declined 19 percent last quarter, largely because of declines in Lipitor sales.

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Hardly anybody wants new drugs that act like a sledgehammer, bashing diseased and healthy cells like old-school cancer chemotherapy. Many drugs today are supposed to be smart enough to work like laser-guided missiles that hit the diseased cells and mostly spare the healthy ones.

But if your goal is to create one of these amazing “targeted” therapies, you’ve got to start by having a great biological target to aim at in the first place. These are the protein receptors on the cell surface, the enzymes that perform dirty work inside cells, the signaling pathways that cells use to send messages, or the RNA sequences that give rise to bad proteins. Much as the biologists can study these targets, nobody really knows for sure what will happen—good and bad—until a drug to inhibit the target’s activity gets tested in human beings.

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Five prestigious US universities will create free online courses for students worldwide through a new, interactive education platform dubbed Coursera, the founders announced.

The two founders, both professors of computer science at Stanford University, also announced that they had received $16 million in financing from two Silicon Valley venture capital firms.

Coursera will offer more than three dozen college courses in the coming year through its website at coursera.org, on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to neurology, from calculus to contemporary American poetry. The classes are designed and taught by professors at Stanford, Princeton, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan.

NIHconference

In FY2012, there is now $717M available thanks to the increased SBIR/STTR set-asides afforded to us in the SBIR/STTR Reauthorization. The amount available will increase each and every year through FY2017!

Learn how to access these vital funds for your company at the NIH Annual Conference in Louisville, KY.

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Like a one-two punch, two major Maryland employers in the health care service and pharmaceutical industries were the targets last week of multibillion-dollar acquisition deals.

Both homegrown companies — Human Genome Sciences Inc. and Catalyst Health Solutions Inc. — are based in Rockville. Both were courted by out-of-state companies.

Human Genome ultimately rebuffed a $2.6 billion offer by biopharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, saying it was too low. But Catalyst agreed to be acquired by a larger Illinois competitor for $4.4 billion, and Human Genome has officially acknowledged it's on the market.

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For three decades, Robert A. Rosenbaum helped guide established companies and fresh startups through complex challenges.

The Connecticut native was president of an apparel manufacturing firm, ran technology projects for big companies, and helped several businesses run smarter and more profitably with his operations acumen.

But for the past 18 months, Rosenbaum, 54, has taken on a new challenge: technology economic development for Maryland. He's been serving as president and executive director of Maryland Technology Development Corp., or TEDCO, the state's technology development arm.

Johns Hopkins

High-profile research institutions, many of which are members of Association of American Universities, provide many benefits for undergraduates on the fast-track to professional or graduate school programs.  In part, this is because of the level of funding these schools receive from the federal government as well as from industry and nonprofit organizations. And despite an anemic economy, it appears that big money continues to flow to big name national research universities.

According to a study recently published by the National Science Foundation, university spending on research and development in all fields increased 6.9 percent between FY 2009 and FY 2010 to $61.2 billion.

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Biotech drug developer Human Genome Sciences Inc. has rejected an unsolicited $2.59 billion takeover offer from GlaxoSmithKline PLC, saying it undervalues the company.

But the Rockville, Md., company said Thursday that it has decided to explore its strategic options, which could include a potential sale of the company. It invited GlaxoSmithKline to participate in its exploratory process.

Catalyst health solutions

Rockville-based Catalyst Health Solutions Inc.    (NASDAQ: CHSI) has agreed to be acquired by fellow pharmacy benefits manager SXC Health Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ: SXCI) in a transaction valued at approximately $4.4 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Catalyst shareholders will receive $28 in cash and 0.6606 shares of SXC stock for each Catalyst share. That implies a purchase price of $81.02 per Catalyst share--a 28 percent premium to the closing price of Catalyst stock on April 17.

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Join us on April 25th at Stella Restaurant for another BioBuzz in Montgomery County!

This month's corporate sponsor, BioHealth Innovation, inc. (BHI) is an innovation intermediary that translates market-relevant research into commercial success by connecting management, funding and markets. BHI's vision is to transform the Central Maryland region into a leading global bio-health entrepreneurial and commercialization hub. BHI will identify and translate market relevant research into commercial success by connecting research assets to appropriate funding, management and markets.

Barbara Mikulski

Over the past few weeks and months I have been out and about in the state listening to Marylanders who are developing new drugs and manufacturing lifesaving medical devices.

They are also creating jobs. In Maryland, biotech means jobs, jobs, jobs. Biotech supports nearly 90,000 Maryland jobs, keeping our innovation economy rolling.

This month, the Senate HELP Committee will meet to discuss and markup legislation, the Medical Device User Fee Act and the Prescription Drug User Fee Act to ensure the safety and availability of new drugs, medical devices and treatments. As a senior member of the committee and a member of the Drug Shortage Working Group, I want to hear how government is helping, how it's hurting and when it needs to get out of the way.

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For the second year, the JHU Carey Business School has bussed 30+ Global MBA students to Rockville to learn more about the university’s Montgomery County Campus, the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, and the County’s plans for the bioscience/healthcare sector.

The program, titled “Bioparks and Commercializing Scientific Discoveries,” included presentations by Elaine Amir, Executive Director, Johns Hopkins Montgomery  County; David Lee from Private Raise, which is located on the campus; Lily Qi from the County Executive’s Office, and Dave Sislen, an instructor in the school’s MS in Real Estate program and president of Bristol Capital Corporation in Bethesda.

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In recent months, state and federal policy makers have launched a broad set of innovative programs aimed at accelerating technology transfer, the commercialization of government- and university-created intellectual property, or IP, through licenses and business startups. This fall, for example, the Obama administration directed federal agencies and labs to measure and expand their technology transfer efforts. At the state level, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s (D-MD) Maryland Innovation Initiative, announced in January, would provide seed funding and foster greater cross-university collaboration to help close the state’s gap between its research levels and commercialization results.

Some universities, too, are rethinking their policies. Penn State, for example, announced in December that the university is no longer required to own intellectual property created by industry-sponsored research. “In short we consider the net present value of the interactions and relationships that our faculty and students have with industrial professionals to be real and therefore greater than the apparent future value of the proceeds from such IP,” wrote Hank Foley, Penn State’s vice president for research, in announcing this news. “Our goal … is to flatten any and all barriers or impediments to innovation and that includes our own past stance on intellectual property.”

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Maryland is in an enviable position with regard to biotechnology-related resources that encourages and supports entrepreneurial efforts. Academic institutions, federal laboratories, a committed county department of economic development and a unique small business have developed an effective consortium to leverage these resources. The potential for human capital to support this entrepreneurial growth is further augmented by the number of graduate and postdoctoral programs available in the region.

Ironically, a significant steady decrease in the availability of academic positions for new graduate and post-graduate level scientists has created an additional talent resource pool for new and existing biotechnology companies. Despite these significant human capital resources, traditional academic graduate and post-graduate training do not focus on teaching the business leadership and management skills that are required to attain successful industry scientist-level positions. This confluence of circumstances was the catalyst for a unique and highly synergistic consortium to help remedy this situation

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Gov. Martin O’Malley celebrated passage of Innovate Maryland on Friday, touting the program as a critical piece in the funding pipeline that funnels discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace.

The goal of Innovate Maryland is to commercialize 40 discoveries every year through a partnership between the state and its research universities.

Maryland will kick in $5 million and Johns Hopkins University; Morgan State University; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County and University of Maryland, College Park have agreed to contribute up to $200,000 each to help researchers take their ideas to market.

NSI

Notable Solutions, Inc. (NSi), a leading developer of distributed content capture and workflow solutions, announced today that Chairman and CEO Mehdi Tehranchi has been named a finalist for Executive of the Year in the Tech Council of Maryland's Annual TCM Awards. This year marks the 24th year that the awards will be presented to individuals and organizations for their innovation, dedication and outstanding service to Maryland's technology community. Tehranchi is among three finalists for the Executive of the Year Award. Winners will be announced during the awards gala on April 26 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

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Dr. Perman with Wallace Loh

The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents recently approved an innovative and structured collaboration between the University of Maryland’s Baltimore and College Park campuses.

Called University of Maryland: MPowering the State, the plan is “the kind of 21st-century organizational model needed for today’s fast changing, fiscally challenging, and globally competitive environment,” says Patricia S. Florestano, PhD, Board of Regents vice chair. “We are pleased with the vision, creativity, and innovative thinking that led to the development of such a forward-looking plan.”

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Qiagen NV, a leading global provider of sample & assay technologies, has received the two US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k) clearances for its real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) instrument Rotor-Gene Q MDx and a compatible test for the detection of Influenza A/B, the artus Infl A/B RG RT-PCR Kit, for in vitro diagnostic use (IVD).

“The FDA clearances for the Rotor-Gene Q MDx along with the first assay for use on this system represent an important milestone for Qiagen,” said Peer M Schatz, chief executive officer of Qiagen NV. “The various Rotor-Gene Q models marketed by Qiagen are not only an integral part of our revolutionary lab automation platform QIAsymphony RGQ, but are also among the most widely used stand-alone molecular detection platforms worldwide. Outside the US, our customers already have access to a broad portfolio of molecular diagnostic tests for use on these platforms. The FDA clearances now pave the way to make this market-leading assay portfolio available to clinical laboratories in the US as well.”