“Transformation” is the best description of what is happening in health care right now. We are seeing historic changes in how health care is administered in the United States—with increased focus on quality of care versus just paying for a service. We are seeing changes in how people can enroll in health insurance—with the upcoming establishment of a new market place that will help more people get insured in this country than ever before.  And, we are seeing changes in how people understand and make decisions about their own health—with an increasing number of tools and services becoming available to help individuals access health information and manage their own personal health data. 


As the CEO of Pulse8, John Criswell works with health insurance exchanges and long-term care facilities on big data and analytics, which gives him a purview into the back-end integration required for states and the federal government to setup HIXs. Yet, he’s optimistic that the gvoernment will meet the October 1, 2013 deadline.

Government Health IT Editor Tom Sullivan spoke with Criswell about the complexity of standing up HIXs, how the exchanges might fare come October, and the overarching opportunities that both HIX and health information exchanges will create as they amass mammoth data sets. 


No action is good action. At least for online investment platform the Funders Club that today received a ‘no-action letter’ from the SEC stating that it will not recommend enforcement action.

The letter is a green light for the FundersClub and validation that its investment model is legal. The news is significant for the venture capital and finance industries, as well as startups looking for more flexible methods of fundraising.


The Congressional hearings debating the regulatory framework for mobile health devices and apps made me think about how we view mobile health apps and the criteria we use to determine what makes some better than others.

And as we all think in terms of the NCAA college basketball tournament around this time, I thought we would do a mini tournament using mobile health apps.


As we come to the close of Q1 of 2013, LSN has compiled some insight into three of the hottest subsectors being targeted by investors in the medical technology space. New technologies are surfacing that are changing treatment philosophies, and more importantly, medtech is attracting a whole new class of investors such as corporate venture from the consumer electronics, digital media, and telecom space. Here are the three trend areas that are changing the world from the medtech investor perspective:


This the title [paraphrased] of a keynote given last week by Jonathon Bush, the CEO of AthenaHealth, at the Xconomy Mobile Madness conference in Cambridge, Ma. What follows are my notes from the speech. The ideas are Jonathon’s. I really like what he’s saying and mostly agree, and he puts it very well.

AthenaHealth’s base business is medical practice billing in the cloud. This is an example of technology-enabled transformation of the health care business system, which we believe will be a big opportunity for entrepreneurs going forward. Founded in 1997, AthenaHealth is now a successful public company (ATHN).*


A week after the Congressional hearings discussed how the US Food and Drug Administration’s impending regulatory guidelines (expected by October) will impact mobile health apps, aspiring and current digital health entrepreneurs may be rethinking their path. In a report dubbed “FDA 101,” health startup accelerator Rock Health has compiled a handy report to help digital health entrepreneurs assess whether their mobile health apps would be classified as medical devices by the FDA and require 510(k) clearance.

Some of the pressure to clear the waters has come from technology developments that have simply outpaced the regulatory environment. Another is that provisions of health care reform call for making greater use ofremote monitoring, to reduce healthcare costs. Providers are pretty keen to reduce costs where they can as well. Remote monitoring would be particularly helpful when it comes to patients with chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure or diabetes or both, so they can have shorter hospital stays and care managers can be alerted for any changes in their vital signs.


President Barack Obama's top healthcare adviser acknowledged on Tuesday that costs could rise in the individual health insurance market, particularly for men and younger people, because of the landmark 2010 healthcare restructuring due to take effect next year.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said definitive data on costs will not be available until later this year when private health plans become authorized to sell federally subsidized coverage on new state-based online marketplaces, known as exchanges.


Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., a global specialty pharmaceutical company, is generating fresh ideas from Michigan State University students at its Lansing location to improve operations.

Emergent BioSolutions, the Roscommon-based Lear Corp., the Saginaw-based Mistequay Group, Ltd. and approximately five other companies hosted more than 20 undergraduate and graduate business and engineering students on various projects. The initiative is the brainchild of Bill Demmer, the CEO of the Lansing-based Demmer Corp., who donated $5 million to the university to create the Marnie Demmer Center for Business Transformation in late 2011, reports.


Sure, New Enterprise Associates is much, much bigger than most venture capital firms. And not all of their deals fall neatly into what we think of as traditional Series A-B-C venture.

NEA invests in private hospital systems in China. It does the occasional PIPE deal. It does big-ticket "growth" fundings that look a whole hell of a lot like private equity.

But NEA is definitely not a private equity firm, as it is here described in The Wall Street Journal.


Tech entrepreneurs will soon find a new home at Innovation Crossroads, the Eastern Shore’s first, full-service business incubator.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and the department of public works recently approved $1.2 million in funding from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development for construction of the incubator, the Dorchester County Council announced on Tuesday.

Innovation Crossroads is the planned anchor tenant of the newly constructed Cambridge-based Regional Technology Park.


Two announcements on Monday and Thursday of last week signaled a fundamental strategic and physical shift for biopharma giant AstraZeneca, including the establishment of a new corporate headquarters in a new UK location; the shift of small molecule and biologics R&D to three strategic centers around the world; and an eventual overall headcount reduction of 5,050 between now and the end of 2016.

On Monday, March 18, the company announced its intent to focus the R&D in three places, and to fully implement these plans by 2016:


Many of the changes in the healthcare industry outlined by the Affordable Care Act and HITECH Act call for shifting to healthcare IT for helping physician practices run more efficiently to helping guide clinical outcomes. But the shift from paper based to digital records isn’t just happening among providers. It is carrying over into other industries that healthcare intersects such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and more robust collaborations with payers.

Andrew Khouri of Quaker Partners, who also mentors Blueprint Health accelerator companies, highlighted some needs in healthcare that are creating interesting investment opportunities and some investment trends at a recent event at the University City Science Center. Khouri acknowledged the “industry is in turmoil” because there’s uncertainty about how the changes will work in practice from the transformation of payment models to setting up health insurance exchanges. But there’s so much momentum to reduce costs and improve outcomes that there is a lot of opportunity.


Cybersecurity companies in Montgomery County will be eligible for tax credits starting next year as part of the county’s mission to become a national hub for companies that sell cybersecurity products to the private sector.

The Washington region is emerging as a hotbed for the cybersecurity industry, in part because of its proximity to federal agencies, the military and government contractors.


Why not explore what’s to gain from crowdfunding when there’s nothing to lose? MedStartr’s co-founder and CEO Alex Fair explains.

Alex Fair, Co-Founder & CEO of MedStartr Thinking about joining the crowd? We know, your mother probably told you not to get mixed up with the wrong kind. But according to MedStartr’s Alex Fair, there’s a lot right with the mob mentality growing among today’s entrepreneurs; crowd communities are creating equitable springboards for promising startups. That’s right, we’re talking about crowdfunding. After all, there is strength in numbers— especially from those that come with dollar signs.


A certain song has been running through my head the past few days. Lately, it strikes me as an anthem of sorts for biotech venture capital in 2013.

It’s Fleetwood Mac’s classic break-up song, “Go Your Own Way.”

Allow me to explain. Biotech venture capital has been going through a shakeout now for a couple years, which I’ve written about quite a bit. If you want to be charitable, there are maybe half as many venture firms investing in life sciences companies today as there were five to 10 years ago. There are maybe only a dozen firms left in the U.S. who can say with a straight face that they still are active investors in early-stage biotech startups. It may be harder now than it’s ever been to raise money for a new biotech idea.


Third Rock Ventures has spent the last six years betting big on early stage biotech investing when most other VC firms have been hunkering down or getting out of healthcare investing altogether. Now Third Rock has been rewarded with another $516 million to keep doing what it’s been doing.

The Boston and San Francisco-based firm, founded in 2007, said today it has raised its third fund, bringing its total assets under management to about $1.3 billion. The firm said this round was “oversubscribed” meaning that there wasn’t enough room to accommodate all the limited partners such as endowments and pensions who wanted a piece of the new fund.


In a demonstration of the booming field of genomic research, investors have pumped $21.3 million into a company that makes and manufactures genome-wide research tools and services.

OriGene Technologies said its Series C was led by Chinese venture firm Qiming Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers China, with participation from previous investor IDG-Accel, a China-focused private equity firm.


Startup Maryland (, a regional initiative of the national Startup America Partnership (, today announced the Raise Your Game initiative to provide the Maryland entrepreneur community with a structured educational program designed to help startup CEOs and founders understand and employ the building blocks of strong startups and startup communities.

Development of the Raise Your Game program and curriculum was led by Startup Maryland Entrepreneur Champions Sam Polakoff, (president of TBB Global Logistics), Gregg Smith (CEO of Koolspan) and Startup Maryland co-chair Michael Binko (CEO of kloudtrack®). Beginning in July of 2013, Raise Your Game will consist of a 6 month educational “bootcamp” program emphasizing the critical components of building successful companies.


The outsourcing of information technology jobs being seen at Bethesda hotel giant Marriott International is not likely a harbinger of more to come, technology and business officials say.

Marriott executives said this week they are cutting “hundreds” of jobs and reorganizing the company’s information technology department in Bethesda in response to a more competitive global business environment. Layoffs are expected to start as early as next month.


Sequoia Holdings, Inc., a leading provider of software development solutions to the U.S. Intelligence Community, is teaming up with Washington DC area private equity and venture capital firms to launch an accelerator focusing on new cyber security and analytic startups. Based in Reston, VA, Sequoia Apps, LLC will concentrate on helping local entrepreneurs create and launch successful startups and connect them to DC area venture capital, private equity and angel investors for additional funding opportunities.

In addition to seed funding, mentoring and coaching, Sequoia Apps is designed to help capitalize on the successful past performance and unique skill sets of all IC focused developers and engineers and help build viable and disruptive commercial applications. “Sequoia Apps is a great example of how companies can leverage the successful past performance of their employees and connect them to the intellectual and financial scene of the DC startup community,” said T. Richard Stroupe, Jr. Sequoia Holdings co-founder. “For years, our development staff has designed and built world class applications for various IC customers, and now we would like to create a new disruptive platform to invest in those engineers in order to help them achieve similar success in emerging markets”.


Montgomery County is implementing a Smart Growth Initiative to build on the area's strengths in biotechnology and health care in a way that will create mixed-use neighborhoods and walkable new housing developments.

The three places where most of this new construction will occur are the Greater Seneca Science Corridor along Route 28, the White Oak Science Gateway west of Gaithersburg and the White Flint expansion along Rockville Pike. Each project possesses the core elements of walkability, rapid transit options and mixed-use development.


In a move sure to inflame the libertarian blogosphere, a presidential ethics commission recommended today that researchers study the effects of anthrax vaccine on children.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues said researchers must first overcome numerous challenges before testing a pediatric version of the anthrax vaccine, intended to protect the American population from a potential bio-terrorist attack.


Montgomery County has a plan to market itself as a business and tourist destination to a particularly captive audience — one traveling at 30,000 feet.

During April, air travelers on some 1,700 U.S. Airways flights, and select American Airlines flights (for business first class travelers only), will be targeted with videos promoting Montgomery County as a place to relocate a business, to live, work and play.


Demonstrating its deep interest in the future of rare diseases, Pfizer ($PFE) has signed on to partner with Gaithersburg, MD-based GlycoMimetics on its lead drug program for sickle cell disease, promising up to $340 million in a broad array of milestones and an unspecified upfront payment. The partnership will bring in Pfizer on the development of GMI-1070, an inflammation inhibitor that researchers have been studying in a Phase II trial for the painful vaso-occlusive crises that threaten the organs of sickle cell patients.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 04:30pm - 07:30pm

Join us on March 20 at Growlers for another BioBuzz Happy Hour

Join our sponsors, BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Biotechnology Education, along with many others from our local biotech industry at another exciting BioBuzz event on March 20 from 4:30 - 7 p.m. in Gaithersburg. This month, we're having our event a week early to accommodate BioBuzzers with kids in Montgomery County Public School system who will be on spring break the next week. We're also holding the March BioBuzz event at a new location, Growlers in Old Towne Gaithersburg. We're excited to see all of you soon, so please register today!


As part of the Wyle-led team, Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has been selected by NASA's Johnson Space Center to provide biomedical, medical and health services in support of all human spaceflight programs. These services under the Human Health and Performance Contract (HHPC) monitor astronaut health and enable bioastronautics research that benefits life on Earth.

The potential contract value to Lockheed Martin is about $250 million over the expected 10-year life of the contract. Lockheed Martin is responsible for flight hardware development, facilitation of life sciences research conducted on the International Space Station (ISS), human factors engineering to optimize tools and experiments for astronauts in zero gravity, radiation analysis, space food development, flight/ground crew training, and life sciences data archival.

Medimmune logo

MedImmune's Gaithersburg headquarters will gain 300 new jobs under a broader U.S. consolidation by parent company AstraZeneca PLC, the companies announced Monday.

The move follows management changes at both companies. Pascal Soriot was named AstraZeneca CEO in August, and early this year carried out a leadership shuffle that included installing Bahija Jallal as MedImmune's new chief. She replaces Peter Greenleaf, who is heading AZ's Latin American unit.


Roughly three years after announcing that he was expanding his California bioscience incubator to San Antonio, InCube Labs founder Mir Imran may wish he had made the move even sooner.

InCube has found willing investors, as well as corporate and community support, in the nation’s seventh largest city. That has allowed the organization to adjust its expectations and strategies in a way that could prove to be hugely beneficial for the life sciences entity and for San Antonio long-term.


In laboratory studies, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have found that stem cells from a patient’s own fat may have the potential to deliver new treatments directly into the brain after the surgical removal of a glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor.

The investigators say so-called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have an unexplained ability to seek out damaged cells, such as those involved in cancer, and may provide clinicians a new tool for accessing difficult-to-reach parts of the brain where cancer cells can hide and proliferate anew. The researchers say harvesting MSCs from fat is less invasive and less expensive than getting them from bone marrow, a more commonly studied method.

Results of the Johns Hopkins proof-of-principle study are described online in the journal PLOS ONE.


Every week we give you a countdown of the top five to 10 companies or organizations from one of our Lists publishing in our Friday paper. This week I present to you the top five “Venture capital firms investing the most in Maryland companies,” ranked by total amount invested in Maryland companies in 2012. This information was provided to us by the folks at MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data from Thomson Reuters.


Known for its ancient castles and seaside mosques, the Turkish city of Trabzon is looking to raise its profile on a new  front—biotechnology.

For inspiration on expanding the Trapzon region’s high-tech and environmental-based industry, a foreign delegation arrived in Baltimore on Tuesday to meet with the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development.