DHHS

The recipients of 81 new Health Care Innovation Awards were announced last week by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The Health Care Innovation Awards program, created through the Affordable Care Act, is setting out to fund projects that test new payment and service delivery models while delivering high-quality care and lowering costs.

Combined with the 26 awards announced last month, HHS has distributed money to 107 projects that plan to save the healthcare system an estimated $1.9 billion over the next three years.

Bio Park MD Video

Each year, the University of Maryland business development team looks forward to spending three days in early summer at arguably the most significant annual event for the life sciences industry: the BIO International Convention. Held this year in Boston, the convention brings together industry executives with corporate and academic scientists in an ideal forum for networking and marketing within the biotech industry.

The audience is ideal for the work of the university, the BioPark and the state. One of our primary objectives as attendees and exhibitors is to market the pipeline of UM bioscience technologies available for licensing. Over the course of the convention, one-on-one partnering sessions will allow our tech transfer team to conduct as many as 20 key meetings to market therapeutics; vaccines; drug targets in oncology, neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune disorders, infectious disease; and devices. We’ll also engage with existing bioscience and pharma partners to promote and expand funding of research and clinical trial contracts with UM’s bioscience faculty and clinicians. Our final focus will be marketing the BioPark as an ideal location for bioscience companies and promoting the Park’s existing base of nearly two dozen bioscience companies. Several existing tenant companies, including Paragon Biosciences, SNBL, Vigilant Bioservices, Gliknik and Ablitech will join us at the show.

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The Maryland Venture Fund Authority along with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) hosted a free public forum on InvestMaryland - a state sponsored initiative to invest in the Maryland's start-up and early stage companies. The forum, held on the Johns Hopkins University Rockville campus, drew more than 200 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other stakeholders for presentations led by the Venture Fund Authority and DBED on the implementation plan for the program, as well as how to apply for funding and other State funding resources.

"There is a tremendous amount of excitement and interest by entrepreneurs as well as the venture capital community in InvestMaryland, which has the potential to create thousands of jobs over the next 10 years and position our State as a leader in science, security, health, discovery and information technology," said DBED Secretary Christian S. Johansson. "As we get ready to make our first investments, it was critical to host this Forum to educate and inform our stakeholders on how they can benefit from what is the largest venture capital investment in our State's history."

DHHS

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday announced the recipients of 81 new Health Care Innovation Awards made possible by Affordable Care Act. The awards will support innovative projects nationwide designed to deliver high-quality medical care, enhance the health care workforce, and save money.

Combined with the 26 awards announced last month, HHS has distributed money to 107 projects that plan  to save the healthcare system an estimated $1.9 billion over the next three years.?

DHHS

The Department of Health and Human Services has named Brian Sivak as the department’s next chief technology officer, according to Federal News Radio.

Sivak, currently chief innovation officer for Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and the former chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, will join HHS next month and also serve as tech entrepreneur-in-residence.

NCATS

NCATS at the NIH has released two RFAs on Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules (UH2/UH3).  Applications are due on December 17, 2012.  

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) seeks to develop a therapeutics discovery pilot program that will explore new therapeutic uses for proprietary drug candidates (Agents) across a broad range of human diseases. This innovative program will match Agents and associated data from pharmaceutical company partners with the best ideas for new therapeutic uses from the biomedical research community.

human-genome-sciences

Biotech drugmaker Human Genome Sciences Inc. is giving all bidders until July 16 to submit their final buyout offers and appealed to GlaxoSmithKline PLC to participate even though its prior bid was rejected.

The Rockville, Md.-based company said Friday that it is committed to exploring its strategic options.

Human Genome rejected the British pharmaceutical giant's $13 per share offer last month, saying it was inadequate. At that time the company also adopted a "poison pill" shareholder rights plan in order to ward off any unsolicited takeover bids.

bio-internation-convention

The Montgomery County Department of Economic Development will host a press event highlighting the nation’s first local biotech investment incentive program, initiated by Montgomery County government, the role local biotech entrepreneurs, many from County-based federal labs like NIH and FDA, play in the success of the sector and a new, regional, industry-sector led intermediary created to bolster technology transfer into commercial success during the BIO International Convention in Boston.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 from 3:00-4:30pm EDT.

WHERE: The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, MA - Maryland Pavilion

WHAT: Press event featuring: MedImmune CEO Peter Greenleaf discussing the growth and success of that company in Montgomery County and that company’s leading role in supporting the newly formed BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) - an industry-lead biotech intermediary; Human Genome Sciences CEO Tom Watkins discussing the growth and success of that company in Montgomery County and the supportive local government and innovative initiatives and policies that support the sector; Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett discussing the success of the County’s local biotech investment incentive program and BHI Board Chair Scott Carmer, Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations for MedImmune and BHI CEO Rich Bendis discussing the early initiatives and successes of that new regional entity in bolstering the success of the region’s biotech sector.

ninds-logo

I would like to bring to your attention that the Office of Translational Research (OTR) at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke (NINDS) is seeking to fill two senior program leadership positions in neuroscience drug and device development. The two position descriptions are described briefly below and more detailed job descriptions are attached. Please forward this announcement to qualified candidates. We will be at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) meeting in Boston next week, and would be happy to meet to discuss these positions. To meet at BIO or for more information please contact Dr. Eric Nelson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) in OTR.

Greenleaf Peter05-cx250

Maryland officials are preparing to dole out the first investments of the $84 million InvestMaryland program this summer, but they must first whittle down a list of 37 venture capital firm applicants to about half a dozen.

The funding will essentially make the state a limited partner in five to eight VC firms, which will be tasked with routing the funds back into Maryland tech and biotech startups in a traditional VC role. A list of recommended firms is due to be released later this month.

University System of Maryland

The University System of Maryland is about to adopt a new policy to formally give credit in tenure and promotion decisions for faculty work that leads to patents and other intellectual property applied in technology transfer.

The new policy, slated for final Board of Regents approval on June 23, is part of the system's broader push to promote the commercialization of academic research.

Maryland institutions receive a lot of research money but have been "very run of the mill" when it comes to transforming that research into useful products and services, said William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the system, in an interview on Wednesday. "The culture of commercializing intellectual property just hasn't existed in Maryland."

Md bio enterprise

In response to the declining state of science education in America, MdBio Foundation, Inc. today announced it will provide science teachers and students nationwide with an innovative and immersive educational video game platform free of charge beginning in 2013. The online platform, called MdBioSphere(TM), seeks to advance student comprehension in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and revitalize student interest in science-related careers through the use of innovative gaming technology. The serious game is being developed by Hunt Valley, Md.-based BreakAway, Ltd., and will be previewed at the BIO International Convention (June 18-21, 2012, Booth 0753 in the Maryland Pavilion) in Boston.

"The Foundation believes that creating a globally-competitive U.S. workforce begins in the classroom," said J.J. Finkelstein, chairman of the MdBio Foundation. "The MdBioSphere platform, which will be the first serious game platform to be mapped to the new U.S. science education standards, can be a breakthrough application that helps inspire the next generation of scientists that America needs if we are to compete in the 21st century. The MdBioSphere platform merges the captivating elements of online gaming with educationally-driven STEM curricula to deliver an exciting classroom experience that enriches both students and teachers."

germs-map

Today, in two of the world’s top medical journals, scientists are publishing the results of a $173 million government-funded project to sequence the vast bulk of bacteria, fungi, and viruses in and on the human body.

The results might at first seem anticlimactic. There’s no news about which germs cause or prevent disease, or even a clear message about how they make people different from one another. What we know is there are a lot of them. We have ten times as many microbial cells in our body as human ones, and though they are tiny, that still means that a 200-pound man is carrying two to six pounds of microbes, mostly bacteria. And there are tantalizing hints that they might play a role in all sorts of diseases. Patients who are at risk for difficult-to-treat hospital infections might have a particular kind of bacteria in their digestive systems; those who are obese might have another; children who can’t get enough nutrition might have a third.

Rich Bendis

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 that its Board of Directors has named former Interim CEO Richard Bendis as the organization's first President & Chief Executive Officer.

Scott Carmer, BioHealth Innovation, Inc. Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations at MedImmune, said, "The Board unanimously supported the appointment of Rich Bendis as BHI's President and CEO. As the interim CEO, Rich has been instrumental in establishing BHI, securing significant private and public sector support and funding, and developing and executing on long- and short-term strategic goals. Rich possesses unique knowledge and experience that will allow him to continue BHI's tremendous momentum to accelerate biohealth commercialization opportunities for Central Maryland."

financial-coi

Advances in medical and surgical care are hard-won. They require rigorous, carefully interpreted laboratory research. Equally important is the painstaking clinical work to translate basic discoveries into useful diagnostics, drugs, and devices.  Despite the odds, the achievements made in the past half century are unmistakable: a 50 percent reduction in cardiovascular mortality despite an epidemic of obesity; a dramatically decreased cancer mortality rate; and the conversion of AIDS from a death sentence to survival with good life quality.

The key to such success has been the growing number and complexity of collaborations between academics, physicians, regulatory agencies, and—not least—industry. Unfortunately, over the past 20 years, a mania has taken hold that discounts the social value of collaboration and has mounted an inquisition against it, encapsulated by the epithet “financial conflict of interest (fCOI).” Critics’ unwarranted allegations that such conflicts cause bias have limited the sources of intellect that can contribute to a given project.

angel-capital-assoc

Raise your hand if you realized the Midwest has become a hotbed of angel group activity -- and a well-respected resource of nationally respected investment knowledge. This spring, Tony Shipley represented the Angel Capital Association, a professional alliance of angel groups in the United States and Canada, in front of a Congressional subcommittee discussing equity finance as a catalyst for small business growth. The software entrepreneur, who founded the Cincinnati-based angel network, Queen City Angels= in 2000, testified about the financial and intellectual capital angel investors provide, while making suggestions on how Congress can use legislation and public policy to bolster the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Shipley's presence at this meeting illustrates the growing national attention given to Midwest angels, who are making the region a hub for innovation. According to the 2011 HALO Report, 79 percent of angel group investments occurred outside of traditional funding mecca California. Of these investments, the Great Lakes region received the biggest proportion of them -- 15.9 percent, a percentage greater than the shares of innovation-rich regions such as New England and the Southeast.

UMD President Loh Asia

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh is extending his Asia strategy with an innovation tour of Taiwan and South Korea. In his third trip to the region, Loh is laying the groundwork for new research and educational partnerships through sessions with high-level government, industry and academic officials.

Follow Loh's live blog from Asia: http://ter.ps/vt

"Science and education transcend borders," Loh says. "A premier innovation and entrepreneurship university needs to operate in a global context today if it is to serve the state and the nation. By building new research collaborations, bringing Asian companies to our international incubator, and fostering intercontinental student exchanges, we keep Maryland plugged into the economic and intellectual currents."

northrop-gruman

Thanks in part to its proximity to the federal government, the University of Maryland has shaped itself into one of the few institutions that specialize in cybersecurity — contributing its own resources, while also relying on financial contributions and expertise from the Washington area's biggest government contractors.

The university's latest announcement came Monday from Falls Church-based Northrop Grumman Corp. , which will provide UMd. a $1.1 million grant to create the nation's first cybersecurity honors program for undergraduates, dubbed the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students. The program will kick off this fall, and Northrop will support it for an additional two years.

College Graduation

In a recent op-ed column headlined "The failure of college for all" (May 28), Robert J. Samuelson raised some interesting ideas, such as enhanced vocational education and expanded apprenticeship programs. However, he started from what higher education professionals would label a false premise, rendering his observations and arguments less valuable.

Although I have no doubt that some people have issued calls for universal access to higher education, those who are serious about education policy have never proposed anything remotely close to 100 percent college attendance or college completion

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.

Human Genome

The latest chapter in Human Genome Sciences’ battle to fend off a hostile takeover bid by British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline played out in a Rockville courtroom Thursday morning.

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge shot down an HGS shareholder’s request for a temporary restraining order to invalidate the “poison pill” the Rockville biotech enacted last month to make it a less attractive acquisition target.