Despite the huge amounts of money that the pharmaceutical industry spends on drug discovery, it is notoriously old-fashioned in how it actually makes its products. Most drugs are made in batch processes, in which the ingredients, often powders, are added in successive and often disconnected steps. The process resembles a bakery more than it does a modern chemistry lab. That could be about to change.

This summer, a team of researchers from MIT and Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis proved that a continuous production line that integrated several new chemical processes and equipment specially designed for the project could make a higher quality drug faster, and in a less wasteful manner.  This more nimble method may even create more opportunities in early drug discovery. In their continuous-manufacturing process, raw ingredients are fed into a parade of heaters, spinners, extractors, and sensors that relay the intermediates through chemical reactions. At the end, round, coated pills fall out.


Salaries hinted at a recovery last year after a noticeable dip in 2010—the first-ever drop in The Scientist’s 10-year history of surveying the life science community. But this year, salaries remained relatively flat overall compared with 2011, and even regressed in some areas. In contrast to the steady growth observed in The Scientist’s Salary Survey since 2001, the past few years stand out as a distinct plateau, with 2012 median total earnings (salaries plus fees, bonuses, and profit sharing) of $87,000 falling just below the $90,000 our readers reported in 2009. However, the overall flatness in the 2012 median earnings disguises big changes across sectors and regions of the country.

This year’s high-scoring disciplines included bioengineering, biophysics, and food/nutrition science. Earnings in traditional research specialties, on the other hand, took a significant hit: median total compensation for researchers in endocrinology dropped by more than $30,000 from 2011, systems biologists’ take-home pay dipped by $38,500, and those in cancer/oncology took home some $15,000 less than median earnings last year.


McLean-based SAIC Inc., which said in August it would split its operations into two separate, publicly traded companies, says current chief executive John Jumper will continue to head the national security and health and engineering business, the larger of the two new companies.

SAIC insider Tony Moraco, who currently heads SAIC’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance business, will be chief executive of the newly formed government technical services and enterprise IT business.


The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission (Commission) announced today that it has received the 2012 Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development (TBED) Award from the State Science and Technology Institute (SSTI). This award, presented at SSTI's 16th annual conference in Atlanta, recognizes the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF) programs for providing competitive grants to public and private entities, advancing cutting-edge research and technology, leveraging state funds, and developing strong economic growth in the life sciences sector. The Excellence in TBED Award follows a national competition to identify the most effective and innovative approaches to building tech-based state and regional economies. The MSCRF is one of only six agencies nationwide to have received this prestigious award.

The MSCRF, which is administered by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), received this award in the "Expanding the Research Capacity" category for its best practice models in technology-based economic development. MSCRF funding supports a variety of grant programs for stem cell research in Maryland, with the dual goal of developing new medical strategies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human diseases and spurring economic development in the State.


A University of Maryland study projects that Washington, D.C., city and federal property could suffer billions of dollars in damage if sea level rise from global warming increases over the next century. Potential for significant damage will be even greater in the event of extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy.

The study by Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Bilal Ayyub, Haralamb Braileanu and Naeem Qureshi, of the Clark School of Engineering's Center for Technology and Systems Management, looks at possible long term effects of projected sea level rise on Washington, D.C. real-estate property and government infrastructure. They conclude that over the next 100 years, continuing sea level rise could cause damages of more than $24.6 billion to Washington's commercial property, museums, and government agencies.


Rockville-based Emergent BioSolutions Inc. said Thursday it plans to develop or acquire three specialty products in biodefense and other markets by 2015, part of a blueprint for diversifying beyond its bread-and-butter anthrax vaccine.

Emergent mapped out a growth plan that calls for annual product revenue of more than $500 million and three-year net income growth of more than 15 percent. Central to this plan is shifting its effort to the late end of its pipeline and paring down early stage research that doesn’t have an outside funding stream. The biotech also said it would “acquire synergistic revenue generating products in biodefense and other specialty markets.”


Since leaving China over two decades ago, I have been amazed at the scale and speed of the physical transformation the country is undergoing. Every time I visit, I feel less familiar with my native land, which is experiencing what may be the most rapid positive transformation of any country in human history. The last three decades have seen explosive change.

It occurred to me during a recent delegation trip to China that beneath the most modern-looking skyscrapers and the most impressive public infrastructures, buildings that Americans can only dream of, is a culture of learning that has propelled the country to be a global giant.

Human Genome

The FDA seemed to tentatively support the benefits of the investigational monoclonal antibody raxibacumab for treating inhalational anthrax following new animal studies, documents released before a Friday advisory committee meeting showed.

Rabbits that received the antibiotic levofloxacin (Levaquin) in combination with raxibacumab tended to show a greater survival rate (about 17%, P=0.0874) compared with those treated with levofloxacin alone, the FDA said Wednesday.


Baltimore’s annual soiree for the tech crowd is headed to a different part of town this year. Tech Night, formerly a $180-a-head event held at the Baltimore Convention Center for 20 years, will take place Thursday night on downtown’s west side at Lexington Market this year.

The new location and lower ticket prices — $60 until midnight Wednesday — are intended to make Tech Night more accessible and fit with a “uniquely Baltimore” theme, said Jason Hardebeck, executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council (, which hosts the event. The ticket price includes Maryland-made beer and wine and food from vendors based in Lexington Market. Select tech companies will give demonstrations in a designated startup arena.


GlycoMimetics, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a new class of glycobiology-based therapies for a broad range of indications, announced today that preclinical data related to its lead drug candidate, GMI-1070, has been published in the current issue of Nature Medicine. The paper describes a new function of E-selectin related to the cycling of hematopoetic stem cells in the bone marrow. Hematopoetic stem cells are multipotent stem cells that give rise to many blood cell types. In the paper, authors highlight how genetically knocking-out E-selectin, or treatment with GMI-1070, protects these stem cells from some of the toxic effects of chemotherapy.


Register now for the 3rd Annual Maryland Cyber Challenge

Live Finals! October 8 and 9, 2013 at the Baltimore Convention Center

  • Three levels of team competition:
    • high school (network defense)
    • college, and professionals (capture the flag)
  • Open to competitors across the United States, travel costs for finals are the team’s responsibility
  • Lock in early for $50 discount team member names must be finalized by Monday, Sept. 9
  • Competition schedule includes practice rounds, qualification rounds and a final cram session
  • Team registration includes conference pass per team member and coach


The Maryland Innovation Initiative on Monday named a new board chair and unveiled its first two programs designed to provide funding to support the commercialization of technologies at five universities in the state.

Robert Hallenbeck, vice president of BD Biosciences, has been appointed to chair of the organization. Patrick O’Shea, vice president and chief research officer at the University of Maryland, College Park has been named vice chair.


A judge ruled Thursday in favor of Johns Hopkins University in a years-long dispute over land slated to be used for a "Science City" in Germantown.

The university has been embattled with the family of Elizabeth Beall Banks, who sold the university her Belward Farm in 1989.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin ruled that Johns Hopkins could lease out portions of Belward Farm. Banks' family had argued the university was leasing too much of the farm and not using it for its original intent as a space for the university to establish a research facility.


After carrying out a frustrating brain surgery in January of 2008, neurosurgeon J. Marc Simard found himself sitting in a cafe, contemplating a problem.

Deep-tumor brain surgeries were complex and unguided — some picked up too much brain material while others picked up too little, he thought. A few tables away from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, researcher sat two other scientists: university mechanical engineering professor Jaydev Desai and UMB diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine professor Rao Gullapalli. They met, and over cups of coffee and the collision of two worlds — the medical-heavy UMB and this engineering-heavy university — they discussed potential solutions.


QIAGEN and Bayer HealthCare today announced a collaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of companion diagnostics paired with novel Bayer HealthCare drugs, initially to enhance the treatment of various solid tumors. Companion diagnostics are tests that unlock molecular information from each patient's tumor genome to guide treatment decisions with medications for cancers or other diseases. The parties will also collaborate on the development of novel technologies for patient profiling which may result in innovative research-use-only products for exploratory and translational medicine. Financial details were not disclosed.

The targeted companion diagnostics will be designed to run on the QIAsymphony family of automated instruments, which is transforming laboratory workflows and helping disseminate standardized, regulator-approved diagnostics.


Bioscience Research & Technology Review Day is a special event that features research talks, presentations, mini-symposia, and demonstrations by university scientists. The program provides a unique opportunity for executives and professionals in industry and government to:

  • Discover the most recent advances in bioscience and biotechnology at the University of Maryland 
  • Promote the potential for academic-industry-government collaboration 
  • Meet University scientists and interact with graduate student researchers 
  • Network with colleagues who share an interest in the promotion of bioscience and the bioscience industry 
  • Recruit employees and investigate job opportunities


Young companies in Maryland, Washington and Northern Virginia raised 14 percent less venture capital funding in the third quarter than they did last year during the same period, according to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mid-Atlantic companies attracted $215.7 million from venture capitalists from July to September, compared with $245.7 million in the same period last year, the report showed. The regional decline mirrored a national one. Nationwide, $6.5 billion was invested in companies, down 11 percent from the third quarter last year.


Back in September, a brightly-colored "Startup Bus" toured Maryland, encouraging entrepreneurs to come out of the woodwork to put together business plans and pitch their startup ideas.

And they did. Startup Maryland accumulated 168 video pitches from its bus tour around the state, and they are all on Youtube, on the Startup Maryland channel.


Researchers at Johns Hopkins have figured out the three-dimensional shape of the protein responsible for creating unique bonds within the cell wall of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. The bonds make the bacteria resistant to currently available drug therapies, contributing to the alarming rise of these super-bacteria throughout the world.

With the protein structure in hand, the scientists say, drug designers have a clear way forward for weakening the cell wall and killing these deadly bacteria. Their results are reported in a paper published online Oct. 25 in Structure.

LES Deal of Distinction

A gigantic patent deal by AOL, Microsoft and Facebook was one of five extraordinary intellectual property licensing deals that received Licensing Executives Society, (U.S.A. and Canada) 2012 Deals of Distinction™ Awards during the Society's Annual Meeting today.

Now in their 8th year, the awards are presented annuallyto companies that orchestrate the most outstanding IP-based licensing and business deals in five industry sectors including: High Technology; Chemicals/ Energy/ Environment and Materials; Industry-University-Government Interface; Life Sciences; and Consumer Products. Here are details on the winning deals:


There’s a “No Vacancy” sign hanging out front University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s research and development park, and leaders say they have the state’s cyber security industry to thank.

University officials say the popularity of cyber security and growth in the number of young companies launching in that industry contributed to bwtech@UMBC’s popularity in recent years. The research and technology park is at capacity for the first time since it was established in 1989.


While Silicon Valley, Austin and other traditional high-tech hotbeds are considered cities with high-growth companies, new Kauffman Foundation research shows that innovations can come from a wide range of sectors and regions. The Ascent of America's High-Growth Companies: An Analysis of the Geography of Entrepreneurship examined the number of Inc. 500 firms by state and analyzed them over 30 years. It found that since the 1990s there is a huge complex of fast-growing firms in the D.C. area. Several states, including Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts, have remained in the top 10, while Washington, D.C., and Utah are rising stars.


The new SBIR/STTR Reauthorization Law (buried in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012) made a number of radical changes in these programs - many of them harmful. The extent of the harm will not finally be known until the SBA finalizes its Policy Directive, which carries the force of law. The SBA has published what it calls AFinal policy directive with request for comments@ in the Federal Register Volume 77, Number 151 (Monday, August 6, 2012). But it is really not Afinal@ as 1) the comments requested therein have yet to be dealt with and 2) the document itself postpones finalizing some of the more difficult decisions to the end of this year. Nonetheless, we can determine many of the implications now.


Join us as we recognize 2012 Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies in Maryland and learn about InvestMaryland.

  • Network with Maryland's Fastest Growing Companies and established industry leaders
  • Learn about new business funding opportunities in Maryland
  • Connect with the Governor's Commissioners on Small Business and Economic Development


Research organizations in the Great Seneca Life Sciences Corridor are considering the creation of a common cyberinfrastructure that would facilitate sharing and spur innovative ideas.

Anil Srivastava, president of Open Health Systems Laboratory on Johns Hopkins University’s Montgomery County campus, proposed the idea and held a meeting Monday with physicians, university faculty and representatives from Cisco Systems, Montgomery County government, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, MedImmune and other organizations.


Kaiser Permanente is joining Mayo Clinic, KPCB, Genentech, UnitedHealth and others as a partner of digital health accelerator Rock Health, which revealed a new class of fresh-faced startups today.

The 14 companies selected for Rock’s fourth class get access to mentorship, office space, operational support and the option of $100,000 in investment. Not surprisingly, they represent some of the latest trends we’re seeing in the digital health space.


Chinese CRO WuXi AppTec has opened a biologics manufacturing plant in Shanghai that will initially serve a joint venture it has with AstraZeneca ($AZN) to develop an IL-6 inhibitor to treat rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disorders that is being developed for the Chinese market.

While providing few details of the new facility, the company claims that it is the first biologics plant in China to meet GMP standards for the U.S. and EU as well as China, and is the first biologics plant in the world to use all disposable technology.


Have a great idea? Looking for seed money and resources to bring your technology to market? AccelerateBaltimore can help you!

AccelerateBaltimore™ is an initiative of Emerging Technology Centers, Baltimore's award winning incubator, and Abell Foundation. Our goal is to close the gap between innovative ideas and getting to market by providing the seed capital, resources, mentors, potential partners and a coworking space.

We are looking for 6 startup companies that use modern technologies to create new business solutions that can be brought to market in 3 months.


The third and last presidential debate had few healthcare moments, but one issue that was raised did have some relevance, particularly for any healthcare and life science companies that have benefited from government funding. Should government back companies or should government stick to research grants?

The clearest example of healthcare companies that have benefited from federal dollars is the HITECH Act’s EHR Incentive Program. It provides incentive payments to eligible professionals and hospitals to implement certified electronic health records technology that conforms to Meaningful Use requirements.


Startups offering everything from personalized nutrition and pregnancy apps to live online fitness instruction and a smart, souped-up toothbrush are among the members of Rock Health’s latest class of companies.

The San Francisco-based health tech accelerator on Thursday announced its fourth class of 14 startups, saying that it accepted less than 3 percent of the applicants.

The accelerator said this seasons’ applicant pool included more companies with hybrid hardware/software models, which is reflected in a couple of the startups selected to be part of the class.


Rock Health, the seed accelerator for startups focused on the health space, landed a big, new partner back in August: The well-known Silicon Valley venture firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The result of the new partnership? The promise of a considerably larger seed investment for its next batch of startups, as Kleiner joined Rock Health’s existing partners in offering $100K in seed funding to each founding team.

This represents a five-fold increase in funding for Rock Health’s fourth class, as the startups that launched as part of the accelerator’s first three classes — 36 companies in total — each received $20K. Today, the healthtech accelerator offered the first look at the fourteen startups that will be taking advantage of the additional funding and participating in Rock Health’s fourth batch.


Startup Maryland has released the 168 video pitchesfrom Maryland entrepreneurs that were captured during the Pitch Across Maryland bus tour, the three week tour that celebrated entrepreneurship and innovation across the state.

Now, startups and those who love them can show their support by "voting" for the best pitch. Forget the ballot box and hanging-chads, this is the Age of Social Media so the way to "Get Out the Vote" is to activate your personal network.


New Health Sciences has big plans.

The Bethesda biotech is eyeing a $310 million revenue stream after 2015 should its storage system for red blood cells pass its clinical trials. And CEO Martin Cannon envisions a potential stock sale of $30 million, should the company go public in the next few years.

Cannon was among the Maryland bioscience executives sharing their success stories, due in part to federal funding, during the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Innovation Conference on Monday at Johns Hopkins University’s Rockville campus.

The gathering was hosted by BioHealth Innovation, a Rockville nonprofit private-public partnership that links bioscience companies and research institutions, and Prescience International of San Francisco.


Synovex Corp., a drug developer, has raised $3.50 million, or 50 percent of a $7 million share offering, from five investors, according to an SEC filing.

Principals named in the filing by the Cambridge-based company are:

  • President Christopher Mirabelli of Cambridge, Mass.-based HealthCare Ventures LLC;
  • Director Doug Onsi of HealthCare Ventures LLC;
  • Director Rajeev Dadoo of SROne, the venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline with offices in Conshohocken, Pa.;
  • Director Ron Laufer of Gaithersburg, Md.-based MedImmune Ventures; and
  • Director Isai Peimer of MedImmune Ventures