Monthly Archives

November 2019

BioBuzz: Five Female Investors Who Are Making Their Mark in Life Science

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Less than 10% of decision-makers at U.S. venture capital (VC) firms are women and a whopping 74% of U.S. VC firms have no female investors at all, according to TechCrunch. While the number of female VC decision-makers has increased over the last few years, progress has been painfully slow.

The life science industry, and the venture capital ecosystem that supports it reflects this broader U.S. gender gap. A 2017 Lifestream study found that only 10.9% of publicly-traded biotech board seats were held by women and less than 8% of public biotech CEOs were female. (The survey included 177 biotech companies that were publicly listed between 2012 and 2015.)

The national biotech and VC gender gap are at play here in the BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) as well. However, increased BHCR support for women in the life sciences and the emergence of several prominent female VC decision-makers are two signs the region is making steady progress in this area, though it still has a long way to go.

TEDCO’s Task Force for Women Entrepreneurs is the most recent example of a concerted effort to support women in the technology and life science industries. The Task Force’s mission is to “…assess the challenges that women entrepreneurs in Maryland face when accessing capital and implement strategies to overcome those challenges.”

The Task Force, chaired by TEDCO board member Myra Norton, who is also President and COO of Baltimore’s Arena, is dedicated to the recruitment, funding and operational support of women-owned and led startups in Maryland.

Women in Bio’s (WIB) Capital Region Chapter offers two programs, MAPS (Mentors, Advisors, Peers, and Sponsorship) groups, and the YWIB (Young Women In Bio) program, both of which are designed to help women thrive in a wide array of STEM fields.

The support ecosystem for women in tech and the life sciences is growing within the BHCR at the same time several prominent female investors and fund directors are making their mark on the field.

If you’ve been making the rounds at regional events like TEDCO’s Entrepreneur Expo, BioHealth Innovation’s (BHI) BioHealth Capital Region Forum or the Maryland Tech Council’s Bioinnovation Conferencesessions and panels involved these VC thought leaders are can’t miss.

Here are the five trailblazing investors shaping the future of life science investing in the region.


BioBuzz: Kite Energizes Maryland’s Cell Therapy and Biomanufacturing Community Around Mission to Cure Cancer

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In May of 2018 Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company, announced the opening of a new Neo Antigen Facility in Gaithersburg, MD. Less than one year later in April of 2019, the company, announced that it was building a new biomanufacturing facility on a 20-acre site in Frederick, MD. Since then, Kite has been diligently working to build a world-class leadership team at both sites to achieve an important mission.

Those leaders are now onboard and are out sharing their important mission by engaging the regional community to recruit and hire the talent they need to fill more than 360 job openings across Maryland..

This November, in one of its first regional community events, Kite sponsored a BioBuzz ‘Meet and Greet’ networking event to get their message out to the local industry.  A few dozen of Kite’s employees, including Chris McDonald, VP of Manufacturing and Frederick Site Head, and Wayne Hardy, Senior Director of Manufacturing and Site Head at Kite’s Neo Antigen Facility, shared the powerful, patient-focused “why” behind Kite’s mission.

“Kite is pleased and happy to be part of this community. We’re here to make a difference. We’re on a mission to cure cancer,” stated Hardy.

“There are a lot of people out there who are suffering… there is probably not a single person in this room untouched by cancer. Think about 10 years from now. You could be telling your kids or grandkids ‘I was part of the team focused on the cure.’ That’s why we’re here in this room right now,” he added.

Click here to read more via BioBuzz

Emergent BioSolutions Announces Growth Strategy and 2024 Goals at Analyst and Investor Day

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GAITHERSBURG, Md., Nov. 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (EBS) today outlined its growth strategy over the next five years and announced its 2024 financial and operational goals during the company’s Analyst and Investor Day held in New York City. Emergent’s senior management shared their vision for continuing to build leadership positions in select public health threat markets and contract development and manufacturing (CDMO), leveraging the company’s unique set of assets, and realizing sustained financial performance and shareholder value creation.

Robert G. Kramer Sr., president and chief executive officer of Emergent BioSolutions, said, “Emergent has developed a growth strategy that supports our desire to make a significant impact on global public health in pursuit of our mission – to protect and enhance life. We are pleased to share this plan, which serves as a roadmap towards our long-term vision of becoming a Fortune 500 company recognized for protecting and enhancing life, driving innovation, and living our values. We are excited by the opportunities ahead and remain steadfastly committed to our patients, customers, employees, and communities.”

2020-2024 Corporate Growth Strategy
The new five-year plan builds upon the successful execution of the previous 2016-2020 plan and is guided by a core strategy focused on five pillars:

  • Execute core business – Deliver core business in products and services;
  • Grow through M&A – Expand impact on patients and customers while profitably delivering incremental topline revenue;
  • Strengthen R&D portfolio – Ensure R&D becomes a more meaningful contributor to growth after 2024;
  • Build scalable capabilities – Invest in operational excellence and innovation to support a growing enterprise that will deliver greater impact; and
  • Evolve culture – Evolve the organization’s culture to support employee engagement and empowerment.

Click here to read the entire Press Release.

BioTalk Host Rich Bendis Guests on The ZIDDANDFIXX Show: Angels Talk Podcast

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Usually BioHealth Founder and CEO, Rich Bendis, is the host asking questions of his guests on the BioTalk Podcast. However, Rich was recently a guest on the “The ZIDDANDFIXX Show: Angels Talk” Podcast for their 26th Episode titled “The Golden Triangle: DC joins San Francisco and Boston.” They discussed Venture Capital, Angel Investment, and the BioHealth Capital Region.

Ziad Moukheiber of Boston Harbor Angels (East Coast), and Faz Bashi (West Coast) of Life Science Angels have a good time chatting about Angel Investing, Entrepreneurship, Restaurants, Politics with good friends and always with great humor and lots of laughter!

Click the link above to listen!


IBBR researchers receive $1.1M from FDA and NIIMBL to support biomanufacturing innovation

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Yu lab developing novel analytical technologies for biopharmaceutical products in collaboration with industry partners Merck and Pfizer

ROCKVILLE, Md.Nov. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Researchers at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) recently received two awards totaling $1.1M from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL) to advance the development of analytical methods for characterizing complex drugs and vaccines. IBBR Fellow Dr. Bruce Yu (Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy) is principal investigator on the awards. His team at IBBR includes Dr. Marc Taraban and Dr. Katharine Briggs.

Vaccines, antibodies, and other top-selling therapeutics are biologics—complex biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Biomanufacturing these products involves lengthy and costly production, purification, and packaging processes. Not only are the final products complex, but the entire biomanufacturing process is complicated and sensitive, requiring the use of advanced instrumentation capable of sophisticated measurements to monitor the process and validate the final product.

Current measurements require contact with the biomanufacturing solution, which introduces additional sampling steps and a risk of contamination. Current quality control practices require opening a subset of vials from each batch and making conclusions about entire batches based on those measurements.

Click here to read the entire Press Release.

BioBuzz: Amid 125th Anniversary of Clark School, UMD’s Flagship Biotech Training Program Proves to Be Crucial to Maryland’s Growing Industry

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The Pedigree of BREP Graduates Within the Biotech Industry Honors the Legacy of UMD’s Clark School of Engineering

The A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland has produced remarkable engineers, scientists, life science professionals and entrepreneurs that have shaped the Biohealth Capital Region (BHCR) for well over a century. 2019 marks the Clark School’s 125th anniversary as one of the most important STEM talent pipelines in the region and nation.

The Clark School’s 125th is not the only milestone to be celebrated at the school this year, however. The Biotechnology Research and Education Program (BREP) achieved a milestone, too, hiring its 125th intern this past summer. BREP’s 125th intern, Amanda Marques, will be starting a process development role with Catalent‘s Paragon Gene Therapy in December.

Amanda Marques, BREP’s 125th intern at Catalent’s Paragon Gene Therapy

“It goes without saying that working at the BSF and the BAF (BREP’s two facilities) have been vital in pushing my career forward in the biopharma industry. The work that I have done has directly translated to my desired career. I can honestly say that in the 6 months working here I have learned more doing hands-on lab work than I ever could have in a classroom,” stated Marques.

Housed within the storied Clark School, BREP has made important, if sometimes under-the-radar, contributions to the school’s remarkable workforce development legacy, and has proven to fulfill the A. James Clark University of Maryland School of Engineering Promise, that ‘Every student will have the opportunity for Mpact through hands-on experiences, mentorship, and participation in challenging co-curricular, extracurricular, research, and service-learning initiatives in an inclusive environment.’

Under the leadership of Darryll J. Pines, Dean at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering, the school has become an important collaborator and an anchor institution for the vibrant biomedical field. In addition to its impact through BREP, the school also became a key partner in launching the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing BioPharmaceuticals (NIIMBL). In a 2016 press release, Dean Pines stated, “University of Maryland Engineering plays a significant role in accelerating biopharmaceutical manufacturing innovation and educating a world-class biopharmaceutical manufacturing workforce.”

Click here to read more.

BioBuzz: Success Breeds Success: How A $250M Acquisition Catalyzed Baltimore’s MedTech Ecosystem

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One company gets absorbed into a larger brand and a host of companies flower as a result. The Biohealth Capital Region’s (BHCR) cycle of creative destruction has continued with Harpoon Medical. This was the story shared at the TEDCO Entrepreneur Expo’s session titled, “Success Breeds Success.”

In 2017, Harpoon Medical was acquired by industry giant Edwards Lifesciences Corporation for $250M, which included a $100M cash payment and $150M in milestone-driven payments over 10 years. Edwards Lifesciences acquired Harpoon, then an 18-person Baltimore, Maryland medical device company, for the minimally invasive, beating-heart repair technology for degenerative mitral regurgitation invented by Dr. James S. Gammie, now the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

For Harpoon’s founders Bill Niland and Dr. Gamme, and lead investor Epidarex Capital of Bethesda, Maryland, the Harpoon deal with Edwards Lifesciences was a remarkable, complex and hard-won agreement. While Harpoon Medical is now part of Edwards Lifesciences, the Baltimore company’s legacy is still reverberating throughout the BHCR.

Since the acquisition, serial entrepreneur Niland and Dr. Gamme have not stood pat; instead, they’ve played instrumental roles in a number of new BHCR companies, proving once again, like we have seen through Human Genome Sciences, Life Tech and MedImmune before it, that success breeds success.

Click here to read more.

Johns Hopkins Health System unveils plans for $400 million, 12-story research tower

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Johns Hopkins Health System plans to build a $400 million, 12-story research tower at its East Baltimore medical campus by the spring of 2023.

Hopkins representatives unveiled preliminary plans today that showed part of the research tower will be a new structure rising in place of the Brady Building, a seven-story structure that dated from 1915 and was demolished this year to make way for the new project.

Additional research space will be created through the renovation of the CMSC building, a 1964 structure that was built as the Children’s Medical and Surgical Center but has most recently housed labs and offices.

The combined project will have 440,770 square feet of new and renovated space, including 200,000 square feet of research labs and related areas. That makes it the largest construction project on Hopkins’ medical campus since the Sheikh Zayed Tower and the Charlotte Bloomberg Children’s Center opened in 2012.

It’s also the first major construction project on the Monument Street side of the hospital since Hopkins moved many of its employees into the Zayed and Bloomberg towers seven years ago, and a sign that Hopkins plans to continue expanding along the Monument Street corridor.

“This is an exciting but challenging project,” said Sally MacConnell, senior vice president in charge of facilities for the health system, in a presentation to Baltimore’s Urban Design and Architecture Advisory Panel.

Click here to read more via Baltimore Fishbowl.

The Universities at Shady Grove Celebrates Grand Opening of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Building

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ROCKVILLE, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) – a regional campus of the University System of Maryland that offers degree programs from nine different Maryland public universities – celebrated today the opening of its fourth academic building, a $175 million, state-of-the-art Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) education facility.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, USM Board of Regents Chair Linda Gooden, University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret, university presidents from around the state, USG Executive Director Stewart Edelstein, and the USG Board of Advisors were joined by an array of elected officials, business and community leaders, faculty, staff and students for the grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting. Hundreds attended the grand opening event, which was followed by tours of the BSE and a STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medical studies) Showcase to highlight programs that partner universities will be bringing to the new facility, as well as area science and technology businesses that are partnering with USG.

USG is a regional higher education center of the University System of Maryland that offers approximately 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs from nine different state universities, all on one convenient, full-service campus in Rockville. Students who attend USG pursue and earn their degrees directly from the partner universities that offer the programs on the campus. For undergraduate students, the university programs offered at USG provide third- and fourth-year classes toward a bachelor’s degree. Most students who attend the undergraduate programs at USG transfer from Montgomery College or another college, after completing the first two years of their coursework.

Click here to read the entire press release. Baltimore: Sonavi Labs raised a $1M seed round. It’s a big milestone for a diverse team

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Sonavi Labs, the Pigtown-based company that’s bringing to market digital stethoscope technology combining noise cancellation and AI that was initially developed by Johns Hopkins scientists, has raised $1 million in seed funding.

It’s the first official fundraising round for a company that’s been bootstrapped over its first two years, and Sonavi Labs reached the seven-figure milestone without raising from institutional venture capital firms. Instead, the investors, whose names are not being disclosed by the company, come from the healthcare and scientific community, as well as friends and family, said CEO Ellington West.

Cofounded by West and CTO Ian McLane in 2017, the company has a license from Johns Hopkins for technology, known as Feelix, that combines hardware and software. Initially, the stethoscope will be designed to diagnose respiratory disease. It also does not require internet access — indicating a principle that guided the company as it developed technology that could be used in countries around the world.

Click here to read more.

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