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BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), a regional private-public partnership focusing on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing access to early-stage funding in Central Maryland, announced today the appointment of Douglas Liu, Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Qiagen, to its Board of Directors.

“Doug is an outstanding addition to our board,” said Scott Carmer, BioHealth Innovation, Inc. Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations at MedImmune. “His in-depth experience in strategic planning, operations and R&D in immunodiagnostics, molecular diagnostics, and other healthcare market sectors will prove invaluable as BHI drives biohealth commercialization opportunities in Central Maryland.”

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.”

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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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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.

parkinson

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.

Zyngenia

Zyngenia, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing Zybodies(TM), next-generation multi-specific antibody-based drugs in oncology and immunology, announced today that it has appointed David Parkinson, M.D. as a member of its Board of Directors and head of its Clinical Advisory Board. Dr. Parkinson will also serve as Interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

"Since our start in September 2009, we at Zyngenia have validated our technology platform and developed a suite of novel multi-specific biological drug candidates. We have also built an outstanding drug discovery and development team," said Zyngenia President and CEO Peter A. Kiener, D.Phil. "We have been working with David Parkinson as a member of our scientific advisory group for some time now and, as we head toward clinical testing of our Zybodies, are thrilled to be able to get such an accomplished drug developer, company builder and leader in oncology and immunology more directly involved with Zyngenia.

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.

Human Genome

Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences Inc., which last week rejected an unsolicited $2.6 billion acquisition offer by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, reported higher revenue and cut losses on sales of its new lupus drug.

Human Genome Sciences had first-quarter revenue of $47.1 million, compared with $26.6 million a year earlier. Benlysta sales accounted for $32.1 million in revenue. Sales of its anthrax treatment to the U.S. government stockpile contributed $6.1 million.

Maryland

Venture capital dollars flowing to Maryland companies were down almost 30 percent last quarter compared to a year ago, and 16 percent less than the prior quarter, according to Money Tree stats.

Maryland ranked 12th overall in venture capital dollars in Q1 2012, behind Minnesota and Illinois with $71 million and $87 million respectively.

California took is customary place atop all states with a mountainous $3 billion in venture capital. Massachusetts followed with $628 million.

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The state and five universities are spending upwards of $5.8 million to help startups move from a concept to a company.  

Senate Bill 239/House Bill 442 establishes the Maryland Innovation Initiative Fund under the aegis of the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, or TEDCO. The bill passed the Maryland House and Senate and awaits the signature of Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is expected to sign it. 

“Maryland has premiere research universities but it ranks low on technology transfer,” Brian Levine, vice president, government relations, Tech Council of Maryland, says of the fund, which is intended to remedy that situation.

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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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Supernus Pharmaceuticals Inc. is slated to go public this week, more than a year after first filing paperwork to list its stock on the Nasdaq. The Rockville biotech is expected to start trading on Wednesday.

When we wrote about the planned public offering two days before Christmas 2010, we noted that Supernus would be the region’s first biotech IPO since 2007. That’s still true today.

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Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, which began exploring strategic alternatives after failed late-stage clinical trials of its experimental smoking cessation vaccine, plans to merge with Australia's Biota Holdings Limited.

If approved, the newly merged company will be named Biota Pharmaceuticals, and will be headquartered in the U.S., the companies said. Biota Pharmaceuticals will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Under terms of the deal, Rockville-based Nabi (NASDAQ: NABI) will acquire all outstanding shares in Biota in exchange for newly issued shares of Nabi common stock.

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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.

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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.

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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The University of Maryland School of Medicine    and Advanced Particle Therapy LLC of San Diego plan to start construction Tuesday on a new $200 million-plus proton treatment center on Baltimore’s west side.

 

The Maryland Proton Treatment Center will be located inside a new 110,000-square-foot building that is part of the University of Maryland BioPark.

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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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The head of the leading biotechnology trade group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), was in Boston this week, ahead of the group’s annual meeting, taking place at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from June 18 to June 21.

 

Former U.S. Rep. Jim Greenwood said the trade group is advocating for a “Chief Innovation Officer” to be named at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who would examine whether the number of drug rejections is reasonable, or whether it is stunting innovation and causing unwarranted delays.

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When Suburban Hospital’s ICU went from paper to electronic medical records, the hospital’s IT department created the FrankenCOW. This COW – or, Computer On Wheels – was essentially a glorified laptop with a battery on a cart that could be wheeled around. After a few months of use, Chris Timbers, Suburban Hospital VP & Chief Information Officer, said he found himself with a revolt on his hands. The nurses and doctors wanted to return to the paper records. They felt the records allowed them to easily see a large quantity of information all at once while the computer required toggling between multiple screens. Timbers fought off the return to paper, but didn’t find a solution until after the staff’s second attempt to return to paper. It was then that one of the ICU doctors asked Timbers (pictured left) about getting a FrankenCOW with a larger monitor. And when Timber’s staff couldn’t find one, they built one.

“And we haven’t heard a peep since,” he said. “But boy was that was one ugly COW,” he added, to the laughter of the more than 100 attendees of the latest Health IT Breakfast Forum.

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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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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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.

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.

human-genome-sciences

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.

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Large doses of Vitamin C may moderately reduce blood pressure, Johns Hopkins researchers have found.

But the scientists don't recommend people start taking large amounts of the vitamin.

Researchers led by Dr. Edgar "Pete" R. Miller, an associate professor in the division of general interal medicine at Hopkins, reviewed and analyzed data from 29 previous  clinical trials and found that taking 500 milligrams of Vitamin C daily, or five times the recommended amount, could lower blood pressure by 3.84 millimeters.

Lilly

In addition to providing lifesaving medication, The Lilly MDR-TB Partnership has transferred technology so medicines can be produced locally, where they are needed, building local economic benefits and healthcare system capacity.

Because the Lilly drugs used to treat MDR-TB can be difficult to manufacture and require specialized equipment and facilities, Lilly identified capable manufacturers in high-burden countries—China, India, Russia, and South Africa—and offered them, free of charge, access to know-how and technical support so they could manufacture the needed drugs on their own. In addition, Lilly worked with companies in the United States and Greece to provide additional capacity and assure supply of these products to global markets. Lilly also provided funding where necessary to support the conversion or upgrading of local manufacturing facilities to meet international quality standards.

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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.

Breakout Labs

While most of us are still reeling in shock after last week’s one billion Instagram buy, Peter Thiel — through both Founders Fund and the Thiel Foundation — is leading the charge into a future where humans don’t age or suffer from cancer, among other things. Call it crazy or whatever you’d like, but there’s no doubt that people who are trying to drastically change the world for the better often do.

If a hologram can give a concert, it’s not that far-fetched to imagine a future where humans don’t die. As part of its commitment to improving the quality of human life in general, Thiel’s latest project, Breakout Labs, is awarding $5 million to companies who push the envelope with regards to “revolutionary” scientific innovation.

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.