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Ten biotechnology companies in Montgomery County last year received almost $6 million from investors who were spurred by the state and county’s biotech investment tax credit programs, officials said Monday.

The county’s program, which received its initial funding this fiscal year after being approved by the County Council in 2010, is the first such local one for biotechs in the nation, said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) during a news conference at the Rockville headquarters of biotech Sequella. Officials approved $500,000 in fiscal 2012 and another $500,000 for fiscal ’13, which starts July 1.

Johns Hopkins University

JHU Research Accelerator is a platform that facilitates an easy and secure collaboration and sharing of resources across the JHU scientific community as well as other insitutions within the Sharing Partnership for Innovative Research in Translation (SPIRiT) Consortium of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award program. Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Washington University and the the University of Chicago are institutions currently members of the SPIRiT Consortium.

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A county and state tax credit program leveraged nearly $6 million in investments last year in 10 biotechnology companies in Gaithersburg, Potomac and Rockville, officials said Monday.

Elected officials, including Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), Sen. Jennie M. Forehand and Del. Brian J. Feldman joined biotech company executives and representatives of the county’s Department of Economic Development to tout the program at Sequella, Inc. in Rockville.

Medical Lights

Crowdsourcing and the world of medicine are already proving strong bedfellows with pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca, who are using open innovation to fund academic research for new treatments and medicines.  However, such ventures are only beneficial as the resources and funding are being made readily available to them, leaving many other research and development projects without the means to get started.

Crowdfunding has already provided a lifeline to charitable, creative and entrepreneurial projects and looks set to offer the same support to medical research, development and provision.

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No matter how privatized healthcare is in America, at the end of the day it remains a social sustainability issue and a government concern. That’s why America’s newly minted CTO Todd Park is sparking health care innovation and reform through liberation of data from the vaults of NIH, FDA, CMS, USDA, CDC and other government health agencies.  Park believes that de-centralization and data liberation leads to empowerment and innovation.  In this interview at the Healthcare Experience Design Conference in Boston, Park outlines his initiatives to catalyze the ecosystem of health services by unlocking data.

Prior to being appointed the CTO of America to the White House, Park was a successful health IT entrepreneur who co-founded Athenahealth and Castlight, then served as the CTO at Health and Human Services (HHS). His Health Data Initiative (HDI) is mandating that HHS agency data be publicly accessible in machine readable format using APIs.

Group to draft rules of the road for

University of Maryland Ventures, a new joint effort between the University of Maryland’s two biggest campuses, will soon create groups to help standardize the schools’ product licensing and technology transfer initiatives. The program calls for the two schools — the University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park — to create teams of individuals to help both schools increase the commercialization of their research programs. The teams will focus on developing and refining ideas for boosting intellectual property, patent submission, tech transfer and community outreach efforts for university researchers.

OriGene

OriGene Technologies, Inc. announces the acquisition of Beijing Zhongshan Golden Bridge Biotechnology Co., Ltd (ZsBio). The strategic acquisition establishes OriGene's leading position in the Chinese pathology testing market.

Headquartered in Beijing, China since 1993, ZsBio provides pathology testing products to the growing Chinese oncology diagnostic market. ZsBio has an industry leading position in the Chinese pathology testing market because of its innovative product portfolio, expertise, strong client relationships, and has established itself as a thought leader in the Chinese pathology diagnostic field. The Chinese pathology testing market has been experiencing double-digit growth annually and is one of the fast-growing segments of the Chinese diagnostic industry.

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has launched a Center for Translational Medicine (CTM) under the leadership of Joga Gobburu, PhD, FCD, MBA, to help improve medical product development efficiency.

“By establishing the Center for Translational Medicine, the School of Pharmacy is demonstrating its commitment to improving the drug development and regulation process,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, professor and dean of the School of Pharmacy. “As a leader in the field of pharmacometrics, Dr. Gobburu’s expertise as director of the center will enhance our educational and research programs and will lead to substantial partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry and other collaborators.”

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That’s not quite a trick question. If you have been preparing a National Institutes of Health (NIH) SBIR/STTR grant submission, you are obviously aware that the deadline is 5 p.m. your local time on Thursday, April 5. However, since January 2011 there have been some important changes in the electronic submission process, so please read the rest of this email closely.

BBC has always advised that you submit your proposals well in advance of the deadline, and we highly encourage you to submit your SBIR/STTR to Grants.gov by April 1. This has always been a good strategy, but now it is essential. The Error Correction Window, which was implemented in December 2005 to facilitate the transition from paper to electronic submission of grant applications, has now been removed. The window had allowed applicants an opportunity after the deadline to correct missing or incorrect aspects of their applications, identified by NIH system-generated errors and warnings displayed to the applicant after submission.

Johns Hopkins University

Last week we told you about some ambitious app development going on at Johns Hopkins Medical School. Well this week, Hopkins did themselves one better: They're diving in to not only create apps, but also to evaluate the 10,000-plus universe of health apps for efficacy and safety, according to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun.

Hopkins also will judge whether the apps are more or less effective than traditional care, such as in-person visits.

Kauffman Life Science Ventures Summit

Starting a company is always challenging, but for founders of life science startups, the regulations and funding hurdles make it dauntingly complex, overwhelming, and seemingly insurmountable.

This first-time conference will answer the critical questions that founders must address to start and grow viable life science companies. Industry experts and successful entrepreneurs will provide practical guidance on how to commercialize innovations in each of four sectors: medical device, therapeutics, diagnostics, and digital health. If you have a new startup in this space or are ready to start one, this two-day event may be for you.

Startup maryland

When Startup Maryland kicks off March 30, it will be confronted with a challenge unique to this region’s three Startup America subgroups: How to bring life sciences and information technology — the state’s two major tech industries — under one banner. The pro-entrepreneurship effort introduced by President Obama in January is the last of the region’s trio to launch. Startup Virginia got under way Jan. 31 in Arlington, Va., with Startup D.C. following later that day. Nationwide, there are 17 Startup America regions.

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The recent news that tiny FerroKin BioSciences earned a big buyout deal with Shire ($SHPGY) has helped spotlight the growing popularity of the virtual biotech model. And that has big implications for everyone in the outsourcing industry.

Like other virtuals--such as Stromedix, recently acquired by Biogen Idec ($BIIB)--FerroKin had only a handful of employees working full-time for the company. CROs, CMOs and other outsourcers created a network of support vendors that carried out much of the heavy lifting in drug research. And with some proof of concept data in hand, FerroKin made a tantalizing morsel for an acquirer looking to build up its pipeline without having to acquire a sizable research infrastructure it didn't need.

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As if we didn’t already know this, yes? Still, a new survey finds that 68 percent of pharma execs agree that Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall. To be specific, 44 percent agree that the pharma industry model is broken and 24 percent strongly agree with this statement. Another 22 percent are neutral and 6 percent disagree. We wonder where this 28 percent is working right now…

And over the next two years, 76 percent believe the healthcare system pricing and budget pressures will be the biggest challenge; followed by 70 percent who believe they will have to demonstrate cost effectiveness; 69 percent who cite more restrictive market access; 60 percent who fear generic competition; 53 percent who worry about less access to docs and 50 percent who are concerned about the ability of patients to pay for their meds.

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In an age of information overload where getting in front of the right investors and potential strategic partners is harder than ever, where do you go to find the support you need to build the next iRobot, Zipcar, Constant Contact, or Achillion?

We know how to help investment-ready women-led companies raise capital to scale BIG. Springboard's forum programs are designed to support, promote and showcase investment-ready, high-growth companies led by women.  And after 11 years of presenting over 480 businesses that have raised over $5.5B in capital, we've figured out the secret to overcoming the hurdles startups face when trying to scale. It's about building relationships, not just about raising capital.  Click here to learn more about our how our forum programs work.

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Biotechnology firms are coming around to a harsh reality: The gravy days are over.

These small, innovative drug companies were once an investment darling, able to secure millions of dollars from venture capitalists and even more later through public offerings. But in recent years, venture financing for biotech has been in decline, due to the tough economic environment and poor returns from stock offerings.

FDA

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) DA has published draft guidance describing plans on how to handle serious drug safety issues with marketed drugs, which is now open for comment.

The guidance is intended to lay out a framework for the agency's response to post-marketing safety issues including serious adverse events, product quality issues and medication errors, with a ranking system to help prioritise each issue according to its level of risk.

The FDA has been criticised in a string medical journal articles in the last 18 months for not monitoring its own adverse event reporting (AER) database effectively enough and failing to communicate safety issues in a timely and effective way to healthcare professionals and the public.

Gobburu

Joga Gobburu, PhD, MBA, FCP

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has launched a Center for Translational Medicine (CTM) under the leadership of Joga Gobburu, PhD, FCD, MBA, to help improve medical product development efficiency.

“By establishing the Center for Translational Medicine, the School of Pharmacy is demonstrating its commitment to improving the drug development and regulation process,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP, professor and dean of the School of Pharmacy. “As a leader in the field of pharmacometrics, Dr. Gobburu’s expertise as director of the center will enhance our educational and research programs and will lead to substantial partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry and other collaborators.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed up to $220 million for the next five years to Rockville-based Aeras, a nonprofit dedicated to developing new vaccines for tuberculosis.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation    has committed up to $220 million for the next five years to Rockville-based Aeras, a nonprofit dedicated to developing new vaccines for tuberculosis.

The grant extends the Gates Foundation’s longtime backing of Aeras, whose pipeline includes several mid- and early-stage TB vaccine candidates being developed through pharmaceutical and academic partnerships. The $220 million represents about half of what Aeras needs to meet its vaccine development targets through 2016, the nonprofit said in a news release Wednesday.

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March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Patrick Fung, a partner at New Enterprise Associates Inc., talks about the venture capital firm's New Experiment Fund, a seed-stage fund for financing student startups and investing in the U.S. East Coast. He speaks with Emily Chang on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West."

Sequencing the human genome will lead to many diagnostic breakthroughs.

Science and entrepreneurship are both acts of experimentation. Both involve taking risks to reach a positive end, changing course when needed, and attempting the never-been-done. While many start-ups now are focused on creating the next Facebook or some genius e-commerce play, there are also scientists tinkering in labs.

Biotechnology is sometimes forgotten about, but the field leads to real products — new drugs and medical devices that aid human health. Want to cure cancer? These people will be the ones to do it.

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Those looking to lose weight, quit smoking or keep tabs on a malady have a lot of choices in the smart-phone app stores. Choosing one that's beneficial is more of a problem.

Science is still trying to catch up to the market for mobile health applications, software that runs on mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids and tablets, which has produced tens of thousands of possible ways to achieve better health for free or a fee.

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BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI), a new regional private-public partnership focusing on commercializing market-relevant biohealth innovations and increasing access to early-stage funding in the Central Maryland region, announced today the appointment of its Board of Directors, including Scott Carmer, MedImmune Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations, as Chairman.

"The State of Maryland is known as one of the most well-established biohealth research regions in the world," said Richard Bendis, BHI Interim CEO, "what we need is an integrated commercialization ecosystem to turn such research assets into economic success by fostering the next generation of 'MedImmunes' here. We are grateful for MedImmune's strong support and Scott's leadership to help us advance early-stage research from laboratories to market with the founding of new start-up companies."

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Deputy Director of Montgomery County Sally SternBach

Montgomery County's Department of Economic Development has tapped Sally Sternbach as deputy director. Sternbach, who was executive director of Rockville Economic Development Inc., will work directly with Steve Silverman, director of the department. Montgomery County Press Release

Sally Sternbach, Executive Director of Rockville Economic Development, Inc. (REDI), has been appointed to serve as Deputy Director of Montgomery County’s Department of Economic Development. Sternbach has served as executive director of REDI since 2003. Lynne Benzion, REDI’s associate director, has been appointed Acting Director while a formal search is conducted.

University System of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan says University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore have 'very complimentary strengths.'

University System of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan

A new collaboration approved Thursday between the University of Maryland, College Park    and University of Maryland, Baltimore    could invest millions of dollars into the state’s tech community.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents gave the OK to a long term plan for increased collaboration between College Park and UMB. The move comes almost a year after Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller proposed a merger between the two schools, which was ultimately rejected by the regents.

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When it came time to generate a little “buzz” for its latest initiative – Deals on Wheels – the Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer office (JHTT) turned to the popular BioBuzz biotechnology industry happy hour series in Montgomery County. And they weren’t disappointed… January’s happy hour drew more than 100 biotech industry professionals who wanted to learn more about the Deals on Wheels program and have an opportunity to network with colleagues.

Deals on Wheels is an innovative program designed to bridge the geographical gap between Johns Hopkins University’s researchers in Baltimore and biotech companies and entrepreneurs in Montgomery County. Through Deals on Wheels, technology companies and entrepreneurs in Montgomery County will have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with Johns Hopkins representatives to discover potential partnership opportunities that include, licensing agreements, start-ups, core facilities, sponsored research, material transfer agreements, research collaborations, and clinical trials.

MedImmune

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved MedImmune's, the global biologics arm for AstraZeneca PLC, FluMist Quadrivalent (Influenza Vaccine Live, Intranasal), a vaccine to prevent seasonal influenza in people ages 2 years through 49 years. The company submitted the sBLA early in the second quarter of last year.

FluMist Quadrivalent is the first influenza vaccine to contain four strains of the influenza virus, two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains. All other currently available licensed seasonal influenza vaccines are trivalent, containing three strains [two strains of type A influenza (A/H1N1 and A/H3N2) and one B lineage strain].

ToddPark

Health and Human Services Department Chief Technology Officer Todd Park will be the next federal CTO, replacing Aneesh Chopra, the White House announced Friday.

Park made millions in healthcare technology before joining HHS in 2009. He initially was hired as the department's "entrepreneur in residence."

According to a June 2011 report in The Atlantic, Park, by age 24, had co-founded the health care technology company Athenahealth. "Nearly 10 years later he made a fortune when the company went public with a market capitalization exceeding $1 billion," the magazine reported. The Atlantic and Nextgov both are part of Atlantic Media.

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Steady progress toward broader adoption of BENLYSTA treatment

Human Genome Sciences, Inc. HGSI +1.18% will today announce its priority goals for 2012 and report on progress with the commercialization of BENLYSTA(R) (belimumab), the first approved drug for systemic lupus in 56 years, during a presentation this afternoon by H. Thomas Watkins, President and Chief Executive Officer, to financial analysts and investors at the 30th Annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

"Thousands of patients with systemic lupus are now being treated with BENLYSTA," said Mr. Watkins. "We are pioneering a treatment in a market that has not seen a new option for patients in decades. Although we are still in the early adoption phase of our launch, our experience in the market to date reinforces our belief that BENLYSTA will ultimately play a major role in improving the standard of care for SLE patients."

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QIAGEN N.V. (NASDAQ: QGEN) has announced results of operations for the fourth quarter and full-year 2011, making significant progress on strategic initiatives to drive growth and innovation.

Net sales in the fourth quarter advanced 17% (+17% at constant exchange rates, or CER) to $334.4 million from the fourth quarter of 2010. Adjusted operating income in the quarter grew 16% to $95.6 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2010 as the adjusted operating income margin was steady at 29% of net sales. Adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) rose to $0.31 in the fourth quarter of 2011 from $0.26 in the same quarter of 2010. Results for the fourth quarter of 2011 included a restructuring charge of $75 million for a project announced in November to enhance productivity by streamlining the organization and freeing up resources for reallocation to strategic initiatives.

University of Maryland BioPark

The University of Maryland BioPark announced today that Ablitech, Inc., a biotechnology company developing polymer-based delivery systems for gene silencing, has signed a lease for laboratory space in the BioPark’s BioInnovation Center. With its move to Baltimore, Ablitech joins an impressive line-up of commercial tenants in the BioPark, a biomedical research park on the vibrant academic medical center campus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). The BioPark’s community of life science companies and academic research centers is commercializing new drugs, diagnostics and devices and advancing biomedical research.

“After thoroughly researching the best location to continue growing Ablitech, the UM BioPark rose to the top of the list among East Coast locations as our ideal choice for relocating,” said Ken Malone, Ph.D., Ablitech’s Chief Executive Officer. “Located in the heart of West Baltimore City and Maryland’s leading biotechnology cluster and offering flexibility of laboratory and office space in buildings developed by Wexford Science & Technology LLC, the BIoPark offers the best of all worlds for a growing biotech organization.”

TEDCO

The Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO), in collaboration with The Abell Foundation, announced today the establishment of the $3.3 million Propel Baltimore Fund, an angel investment fund for entrepreneurs and start-up companies located in Baltimore City. TEDCO will administer the fund and will begin accepting applications on April 2, 2012. Through the fund, companies may receive maximum investments up to $220,000.

"The Propel Baltimore Fund was created to help support the establishment and development of promising businesses in Baltimore City," said Abell Foundation president Robert C. Embry, Jr. "The Abell Foundation wants to ensure that innovators recognize Baltimore as an attractive location to start, build and sustain their businesses. TEDCO has an excellent track record as a state-of-the-art resource for entrepreneurs, and we are confident that the organization will be a strong partner in managing the fund and in supporting economic development in the city."

Valley

One prominent biotechnology venture capital researcher says the concept of the early stage funding valley of death is an “artifact” and actually a reflection of the classic supply and demand.

Many entrepreneurs, investors and life sciences industry veterans take the existence of the valley of death almost as an article of faith. The meme goes that young companies enter that valley, in which attracting investment capital becomes extremely difficult, at an early stage, typically between an initial round of angel funding and the company’s first institutional series A round.