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Facing federal and state pressure to raise retention and graduation rates, dozens of colleges and universities are developing analytics tools to help students make better decisions about everything from courses to social activities.

Purdue University has notified its 7,300 incoming freshman about a new web application that could help them better acclimate to life on campus. Administrators at the West Lafayette, Ind., school view the software as a critical tool for an institution whose graduation rate hovers at around 50 percent.

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Vertex says it has updated an R&D collaboration with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics (CFFT) stretching back more than a decade.

Under the updated Research, Development and Commercialization Agreement, disclosed in a regulatory filing yesterday, CFFT—the Foundation’s nonprofit drug discovery and development affiliate—agreed to pay Vertex $75 million upfront, as well as up to $6 million annually toward development funding.

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As part of the White House's Cancer Moonshot Initiative, today, SHARE For Cures (www.SHAREForCures.org) launched a technology platform and study aimed to gather a better understanding of the real-world use of novel cancer immunotherapy drugs.   

SHARE For Cures' new SHARE platform will easily and securely gather clinical, wellness, lifestyle, and patient-reported data about cancer immunotherapy use, side effects and benefits.  Once gathered, the data will enable researchers to better understand how these new therapies are being used outside of clinical trials, as well as the health impact of specific drugs on real-world patients. 

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Today CosmosID announced participation in Vice President Biden's National Cancer Moonshot, which aims to accelerate progress in preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer. CosmosID will provide access to its automated bioinformatics platform, MetaGenID, for five cancer microbiome research studies (valued at $150,000) to understand how the microbiome (i.e. oral, gut, and skin) contributes to development of specific cancers.

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The Clark Charitable Foundation gifted Johns Hopkins University $15 million to provide financial aid and create a new academic program for undergraduate engineering students.

The gift honors the late A. James Clark, a former trustee of the university and of Johns Hopkins Medicine and former CEO of Clark Enterprises and Clark Construction Group LLC, one of the country’s largest privately held general building contractors. It is the largest endowed scholarship gift ever given to the university’s Whiting School of Engineering.

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On Jan. 20, 2015, about 30 minutes into his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama said the words that would set in motion a health research initiative that could exceed the scope of any that has come before it.

Obama told listeners that he was green-lighting the launch of the Precision Medicine Initiative, a program two decades in the making that would begin where the groundbreaking Human Genome Project left off.

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Marriott International Inc. has selected downtown Bethesda as the site of its new headquarters. Exactly where is still to be determined.

The hospitality giant (NASDAQ: MAR), now the largest in the world following its merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., says it is still considering several Metro-accessible sites for a $600 million facility. It expects to make that selection in the first half of 2017.

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THE 7TH GALIEN FORUM EVENT: The 2016 Galien Forum will take place on the morning of October 27th, 2016, and will feature round table debates focusing on critical global healthcare issues and challenges. Our annual life science Forum is rapidly becoming a leading event for discussing issues of innovation in the industry. The Galien Forum brings together leading CEOs, biomedical experts from industry, academia and government.

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As cybersecurity becomes more of an imperative for individuals and organizations, several regions in the US are investing money and efforts in security innovation.

Silicon Valley may be the most famous hotspot for tech innovation in the country, but it's far from the only place driving cybersecurity advancement. Areas such as the Washington, DC region and the Boston metro area are home to a growing number of security startups and incubators.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for Amitiza (lubiprostone; Sucampo and Takeda) for the addition of two adverse reactions: syncope and hypotension.

Cases of syncope and hypotension have been reported with Amitiza in the postmarketing setting. Most cases have occurred in patients taking 24mcg twice daily and some occurred within an hour after taking the first dose or subsequent doses. The new label addition states that syncope and hypotension generally resolved following Amitiza discontinuation or prior to next dose, but recurrence has been reported with subsequent doses. Several cases reported concomitant use of medications known to lower blood pressure, which may increase the risk for the development of syncope or hypotension. Clinicians are advised to make patients aware of the risk; side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting may increase the risk for syncope and hypotension. 

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Two University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) researchers and a UM Venture startup company stemming from the University’s tech transfer efforts received financial awards to accelerate the commercial development of their biomedical inventions into treatments and devices to meet today’s health challenges.

 For the last eight years, the UMB Commercial Advisory Board and the Johns Hopkins Alliance for Science and Technology have held a yearly meeting of faculty of both universities, advisors and potential investors to explore pathways to commercializing inventions created in the universities’ laboratories, and encourage entrepreneurship among faculty members.  This year, $200,000 was awarded to faculty and startup companies from both universities. UMB inventors competed for a UM Ventures Award and one of two Abell Foundation Awards. UM Venture start-ups presented their companies for the chance to win a UM Venture Start-up Award.  This year’s UMB-affiliated awards went to:

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Superbugs are causing a super problem in health care, but combating these drug-resistant bacteria presents quite a challenge. Many antibiotic prescriptions administered in the U.S. are either unnecessary or inappropriate and can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections or other adverse events. In an effort to improve antibiotic use, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality a $16 million contract, which will be spread over a period of five years — two initial years, plus three optional years. The Armstrong Institute will collaborate with the Chicago-based research institute NORC to identify which approaches are most helpful and to operationalize efforts to optimize antibiotic prescribing.

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We recently released our inaugural PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor as a comprehensive resource on all matters venture capital. You can download the full 20-page report for free, but if you’d like to fast forward to the highlights, we’ve collated the top charts below:

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Personal Genome Diagnostics Inc. (PGDx), a leading provider of advanced cancer genome testing products and services, today announced that it has licensed rights to patent pending microsatellite instability (MSI) testing technology from Johns Hopkins University to help identify candidates for immune checkpoint inhibition. PGDx already includes the MSI technology in its pan cancer genomic tissue assays for patients and drug developers, and will be incorporating it into the recently launched PlasmaSELECT™ 64 non-invasive pan cancer assay. The company also includes the MSI technology in its PROGENEUS™ technology transfer enterprise solution, which enables advanced cancer genomic testing by local and regional laboratories that have next-generation sequencing (NGS) capabilities.

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With the visionary language of large federal initiatives like the “Cancer Moonshot” or provocative branding such as “NIH…Turning Discovery into Health®” and the National Institute of Health website further touting “revolutionary ideas often come from unexpected directions,” one might assume an equally ambitious approach is being taken to ensure federal life sciences research is going toward research with the most promise for positive impact and scientific advancement.  One of the calls of Vice President Joe Biden’s recent Cancer Moonshot report was urging not to accept a “business as usual” approach. A recent report underscores why that may be a problem at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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Ever lose something and go crazy trying to find it, only to discover it was right in front of you all along?

A few days ago I attended back-to-back events. The first was a late afternoon party celebrating the 10th anniversary of a client, Printfresh Studio. Most of the women reading this have one of their designs in their closet. I met another attendee who suggested we get together to discuss mutual opportunities to refer our clients.   We traded business cards.

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Madison, Wisconsin-based Propeller Health has closed a $21.5 million Series C financing round, with new investors 3M Ventures, S.R. One, Limited and Hikma Ventures, plus existing investors Safeguard Scientifics and Social Capital. The funding will be used to further Propeller’s digitally-guided therapy platform.

Propeller’s aim is to simplify management of chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD through sensors that attached to inhalers and sync to a companion app. The digitally-guided therapy platform is able to integrate with multiple sources, including connected medications, and uses machine learning to design a personalized therapy plan for each user.

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Investigators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Brain Injury Outcomes program and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research have been awarded a seven-year, $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to form, along with Tufts University School of Medicine, one of three Trial Innovation Centers.

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For a while, Illumina—the 800-pound gorilla of genomics—could do no wrong. The DNA-sequencing company's market cap more than quadrupled from 2012, to peak at a whopping $34 billion, fueled in part by the growing hype around the potential of genomics to transform how we prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, as well as facilitate medical research discoveries.

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BioFactura, Inc. was granted patent rights by China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) protecting the core technologies of its proprietary StableFast™ Biomanufacturing Platform. SIPO allowed 17 claims broadly covering composition of matter and methods. StableFast™ is BioFactura’s proprietary NS0-based system to rapidly generate stable cell lines that have the potential to lower cost, produce follow-on biologics and are single-use technology compatible. The Company is developing high-value biosimilars both internally and collaboratively.

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Washington-area companies raised nearly $300 million in venture capital funding during the third quarter, putting the region on track to reach $1 billion in investments by the end of the year, according to recently released data from the National Venture Capital Association.

In all, 49 local companies raised $299.5 million during the third quarter, a 47 percent increase from the $204 million the region’s firms secured during the same period last year, according to PitchBook, a research company that provided the data for the association’s report.

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By the end of next year, Harpoon Medical's minimally invasive surgical tool could be in operating rooms across Europe.

Harpoon still is testing the technology, but believes its device could revolutionize mitral valve repair, a hours-long surgery that requires splitting the breastbone and stopping the heart. Harpoon's tool can finish the job in a hour and a half through a small incision.

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Access to cancer screening services in Nigeria, and identifying symptom changes in schizophrenia and depression patients are the focuses of the 2016 Research and Innovative Seed Grant award recipients, highlighting a collaborative research program between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). Part of the University of Maryland: MPowering the State initiative, the Seed Grant program was established to create opportunities for collaboration between disciplines and between the universities. All areas of research at UMB and UMCP are considered for funding.

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December 1, 2016, 8:30-4:00 p.m.

The Open Data Science Symposium is open to the public and will be available through a webcast.

Big Data is an underutilized resource for innovation and discovery in biomedical research and the NIH is committed to unleashing its full potential by making it an open and easily accessible resource. The Open Data Science Symposium will feature discussions with the leaders in big data, open science, and biomedical research while also showcasing the finalists of the Open Data Science Prize, a worldwide competition to harness the innovative power of open data.

Please Register for the Open Data Science Symposium by November 18, 2016.

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Officials from the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore have unveiled plans for the new Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance.

Media outlets report the center, announced Wednesday, will be dedicated to cutting-edge research into concussions and other sports injuries. The center will combine research into traumatic brain injuries with treatment of student athletes and the public.

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Your search ends at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), where nine top Maryland universities bring 40 of their best degree programs to YOU on one convenient campus in Rockville. Take your classes at USG, and earn your bachelor's degree from the university offering your major.

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Your search ends at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), where nine top Maryland universities bring 40 of their best degree programs to YOU on one convenient campus in Rockville. Choose from a variety of degrees offered in flexible formats that fit the lives of working adults.

USG GRADUATE OPEN HOUSE Monday, November 7th / 6:00pm Check-in / 6:30pm Welcome / 7:00pm-8:00pm Sessions & Information Fair

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November 1-3, 2016 - Columbus, OH

Throughout SSTI’s 2016 Annual Conference, we will be engaging with the theme of Innovation with Purpose: Shaping Future Opportunities. Whether you are interested in the agenda overview, four thematic tracks, interest group roundtables and tour, or want to see the agenda by session type, you can find that information below. We’re looking forward to having this conversation with you in November! 

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The drive for economic growth around the world is seeing regions strive to create their own innovation ecosystems. Universities are an important aspect of an innovation ecosystem, so for the second year running, Reuters has created its index of the world’s top 100 most innovative universities, highlighting those educational institutions doing the most to advance science and invent new technologies and help drive the global economy.

Not surprisingly, the world’s top three continue to be Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (ranked #2) and Harvard University (ranked #3).

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A new study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences by researchers at the Sapienza University of Rome shows that probiotics may play a role in reducing neurological inflammation, which has been implicated in a number of HIV-associated cognitive disorders, ranging from very mild impairment to severe dementia. This study adds to the growing science around the gut-brain connection, reports ExeGi Pharma.

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To foster development, production and marketing of the next generation of medical devices designed to meet growing children’s unique needs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded $5 million to the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation (NCC-PDI), led by Children’s National Health System and University of Maryland, College Park. New Consortium members include BioHealth Innovation, Inc., a Maryland-based innovation intermediary that supports the transformation of research projects into new business opportunities, and MedTech Innovator, a California-based virtual startup accelerator that matches health care industry leaders with early-stage and emerging growth medtech companies for mentorship and support. NCC-PDI’s affiliated members include industry leaders such as Smithwise, Epidarex, and Cadence. 

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BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) has received the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA)’s January 2018 IMPACT Award in Biotech/Cleantech for the management of four spaces for early stage companies: the Germantown Innovation Center, the Rockville Innovation Center, LaunchLabs, and the BHI International Innovation Center.   The award is based on a variety of metrics including affiliations and partnerships, application and graduation, facilities, mission and goals.  This recognition also enables this innovation activity to be considered with other leading entrepreneurial centers across the country as a finalist for the InBIA’s annual Incubator of the Year Awards.  

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Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (NYSE:EBS) today announced that it has been awarded a contract by the Department of National Defence (DND) valued at approximately $8 million to deliver Anthrasil® (Anthrax Immune Globulin Intravenous [human]) to the Canadian government. This contract award follows the recent approval of Anthrasil by Health Canada under the Extraordinary Use New Drug (EUND) Regulations, which provide a regulatory pathway for products for which collecting clinical information for its intended use in humans is logistically or ethically not possible. Anthrasil is indicated for the treatment of inhalational anthrax in adult and pediatric patients in combination with appropriate antibacterial drugs.