Monthly Archives

October 2021

Women in Bio Celebrates 20 years and Foundational Roots in the DC area

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October 2021, A 2020 survey conducted by BIO found that in the 100 biotech companies surveyed, women made up nearly half of total employees, but accounted for only 31% of executives and 23% of CEOs. Women’s representation suffers a steep decline in leadership positions across the life sciences, and the gap only widens for women of color.

When Lynn Johnson Langer and Debra Bowes, started their careers in the life sciences they both knew that gender diversity was rare, and even scarcer as women entrepreneurs. “Networking events I attended were mainly comprised of men. There were no opportunities to talk with women about their experiences and career opportunities,” said Johnson Langer.

This started to change in 2001, thanks to four women from the BioHealth Capital Region who came together to form a networking group for women entrepreneurs in life sciences across the region. From this idea, Women In Bio (WIB) was born – WIB is a professional organization with the mission of promoting the careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship of all women in the life sciences. This local grass roots organization, grew quickly over its first 10 years, blossoming to 250 members across the region.

In 2010, Lynn Johnson Langer was elected President of WIB, and her mission was to expand WIB’s reach beyond the greater D.C. area and creating an organization that women in the life sciences across the nation, and eventually globally, could be a part of. “We put together a 3-year plan to increase our membership so that all women in the life sciences would have the support and opportunities they needed to grow their careers,” said Johnson Langer.

Debra Bowes succeeded Johnson Langer in 2011 and continued that mission of expanding WIB chapters. She also created the MAPS (Mentor, Advisors, Peers, and Sponsors) to allow women in the industry to connect where there were not yet chapters and on a more personal level. “There was such interest across the US to have connections to other women as industry mentors, advisors and peers this initiative allowed us to serve the need faster than grass-root chapter formation allowed,” Debra reflects.

Fast-forward to 2021, twenty years after WIB was founded, the Presidency of WIB has returned “home” so to speak. Kayla Valdes was nominated by the WIB Board of Directors to be the 2021 National President of WIB. “I originally became a WIB member during graduate school because of MAPS. Through this initiative and the leadership opportunities WIB provided me, I have been able to grow personally and professionally. Serving as National President has been an honor and privilege to serve WIB in this capacity and work with the inspiring women that are a part of it both,” said Valdes. Under her leadership, WIB continues to strategically grow – WIB now has over 3,100 members across North America, 14 chapters, and has expanded the MAPS Initiative to be a program that is with you every step of your career, from the classroom to the boardroom. Through WIB’s flagship Boardroom Ready Program, the organization has place over 100 alumnae on corporate boards.

For 20 years, WIB has been working to fix the “broken rung” and provide all women with the resources, network, and support needed to raise their profile in the life sciences. Its offerings include professional education programs, peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and networking opportunities. While there is still work to be done, organizations like WIB provide women with the tools needed to advance their careers and continue to achieve gender parity.

Washington Business Journal Names Dr. Kurt Newman, President and CEO of Children’s National Hospital, and BHI Board Member, 2021 CEO of the Year

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We thought 2021 would bring a stronger path forward for Greater Washington — and the world — after a debilitating, unpredictable, unprecedented 2020.

And yet, we remain steeped in uncertainty and adversity after a Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus deepened the death toll and put thousands more at risk on a daily basis, physically and mentally, while businesses and employers continue to navigate through reopening delays and staff departures.

Our CEO of the Year stood at the nexus of all of those issues, on the literal front lines of the health crisis amid a financial downturn and worker shortage. He was working to not only sustain, but also grow, his organization, even as he assumed responsibility for attending to our community’s most vulnerable population: our children.

He is Dr. Kurt Newman, president and CEO of Children’s National Hospital.

He’s been in that role for a decade and a surgeon for decades more than that. Yet, 2021 was unparalleled, bringing what Newman himself has described as “a perfect storm.” Whether it was Covid or seasonal flu, respiratory disease or behavioral health, he watched pediatric admissions soar this year at his 323-bed pediatric hospital, more so than even during the heights of infection in 2020. He’s pushed for vaccinations for all ages, including among his own staff, and he contributed to clinical trials and advocated for greater resources as a D.C. Hospital Association board member as the pandemic pressed on.


Click here to read more via the Washington Business Journal.

BioTalk Welcomes Mr. Hakdo Kim, President, Korea SMEs & Startups Agency KOSME)

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Mr. Hakdo Kim, President, Korea SMEs & Startups Agency KOSME), joins Rich Bendis from the BHI Offices to discuss their biotech mission, their relationship with Maryland, and opportunities to expand in the United States

Listen now on Apple, Google, Spotify, and TuneIn

Mr. Hakdo Kim is the President of Korea SMEs and Startup Agency, also known as KOSME. KOSME, which is now governed by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, was first established by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy in 1979 to promote small- and medium-sized businesses. Their goal is to foster the competitiveness of SMEs and nurture more balanced development of the Korean economy with sustainable growth of SMEs. SMEs are currently faced with numerous difficulties: accessing vital information and funds.

Click here for the transcript.

A US – UK Discussion: How to Conduct Clinical Trials as Seth Toback, Vice President, Clinical Development at Novavax and Divya Chadha Manek, Director of Business Development at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) join Rich Bendis on BioTalk.

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Listen now via Apple, Google, Spotify, and TuneIn

Divya Chadha Manek was appointed as the NIHR CRN’s Head of Commercial Business Development in 2015 then in 2020, Divya was seconded to the UK Vaccines Taskforce (VTF) which was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to lead the UK’s search for a safe and effective vaccine. Divya was responsible for supporting global pharmaceutical companies to rapidly generate the evidence required for marketing authorisation of COVID-19 vaccines. Divya also played a pivotal role in conceptualising and developing the NHS Vaccine Research Registry.

In April 2021, Divya was appointed to her current role as the NIHR Clinical Research Network’s Director of Business Development and Marketing. Here she leads a team responsible for increasing investment into UK health and social care research from both non-commercial and commercial research sponsors, including the global life sciences industry.

Seth Toback, MD is currently a Vice President of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at Novavax. He is working on the clinical development of the SARS CoV-2 vaccine and is the lead physician on the phase 3 study being conducted in the United Kingdom. He has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields for the past 15 years focusing on vaccines and therapeutics against respiratory viruses. Prior to that he was in private practice pediatrics in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania close to where he trained at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  He is a board-certified Pediatrician with degrees from Carnegie-Mellon, Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, Tufts University School of Medicine and McGill University.

Francis Collins to step down as director of the National Institutes of Health

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Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., today announced his decision to end his tenure as the director of the National Institutes of Health by the end of the year. Dr. Collins is the longest serving presidentially appointed NIH director, having served three U.S. presidents over more than 12 years.

“It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great agency for more than a decade,” said Dr. Collins. “I love this agency and its people so deeply that the decision to step down was a difficult one, done in close counsel with my wife, Diane Baker, and my family. I am proud of all we’ve accomplished. I fundamentally believe, however, that no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it’s time to bring in a new scientist to lead the NIH into the future. I’m most grateful and proud of the NIH staff and the scientific community, whose extraordinary commitment to lifesaving research delivers hope to the American people and the world every day.”

A physician-geneticist, Dr. Collins took office as the 16th NIH director on August 17, 2009, after being appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In 2017, he was asked to continue in his role by President Donald Trump, and in 2021, by President Joe Biden. Prior to becoming the NIH director, Dr. Collins served as the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1993-2008, where he led the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book.

Click here to read more via the NIH

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Completes Acquisition of Infectious Disease R&D Center in Frederick, MD

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CHATHAM, N.J., Oct. 04, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: TNXP) (Tonix or the Company), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced it has completed the acquisition of its new research and development center (RDC) located in Frederick, Md. The approximately 48,000 square foot facility will support Tonix’s expanding infectious disease pipeline, including:

  • TNX-1800 – a live virus vaccine designed to protect against COVID-19
  • TNX-801 – a live virus vaccine designed to protect against smallpox and monkeypox
  • TNX-3500 – a small molecule antiviral under development to treat COVID-19
  • TNX-2100 – a peptide based skin test to measure functional T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2

Tonix purchased the RDC from Southern Research, a collaborating partner on TNX-1800 and TNX-801 development.

The center is operational with a dedicated staff of scientists and technicians. The main building was constructed as a biosafety level (BSL) -3 facility but has been operating at BSL-2. Tonix plans to make appropriate upgrades and seek certification for BSL-3 so that research may be conducted on live SARS-CoV-2- and other pathogens.

The RDC in Frederick, Md. will complement Tonix’s Advanced Development Center (ADC) being constructed in New Bedford, Mass., and its Commercial Manufacturing Center (CMC) planned in Hamilton, Mont. The ADC will house laboratories dedicated to process analytical development and pilot manufacturing of the Company’s vaccine candidates for clinical trials. The CMC is expected to support commercial scale manufacturing of vaccine products.

“The establishment of the RDC is a significant milestone for Tonix and aligns with our strategic focus to support and grow our pipeline of vaccines and antiviral therapeutics,” stated Seth Lederman, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Tonix. “We believe that this strategy will enable Tonix to develop vaccines and therapeutics to address the current COVID-19 pandemic, and to be prepared to efficiently combat potential novel or emerging pathogens, termed ‘Disease X’, that could impact society in the future. We believe that the recombinant pox virus platform technology underlying TNX-1800 and TNX-801, coupled with our capabilities at the RDC and ADC, will be rapidly deployable for addressing Disease X, with simplified distribution and administration, relative to modified mRNA based vaccines. Our goal is to be able to design and test new recombinant pox virus vaccines against novel pathogens within the 100 days of recognition of a potential emerging pandemic threat, consistent with the criteria1,2 recently set forth by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.”

Click here to read more via

Nanochon Wins BioHealth Capital Region 6th Annual Crab Trap Competition

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Winning company is developing an implantable device based on 3D printing and a synthetic material, which supports and regenerates surface cartilage damage in the knee.

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND, October 1, 2021 – Nanochon, a Washington, D.C. based company in the BioHealth Capital Region, applying novel materials to replicate bone and cartilage, and high-end 3-D printing to create an implant which can permanently repair debilitating joint injuries, was selected from five finalists as the company with the most commercial potential at the 6th Annual Crab Trap Competition. This year’s judges included industry leaders Sally Allain, Head, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS @ Washington, DC, Andrea Alms, Co-Fund Manager, BioHealth Capital Fund, Lora Green, Of Counsel, Wilson Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, Troy LeMaile-Stovall, Chief Executive Officer, TEDCO, Conley Jones, Senior Associate, Alexandria Venture Investments, John Newby, Chief Executive Officer, Virginia Biotechnology Association, and was moderated by Rich Bendis, President & CEO, BioHealth Innovation, Inc.

The Crab Trap, presented virtually for the second year in the row due to the pandemic, was held on September 29th in association with the 7th Annual BioHealth Capital Region and 4th Annual BioHealth Capital Region Investment Conference. Nanochon CEO, Benjamin Holmes, presented on his company’s implant, which acts as both cartilage replacement and tissue growth scaffold, and is designed to be custom 3-D printed for each patient. Nanochon joins previous Crab Trap winners, BrainScope (2020), Floreo (2019), Galen Robotics (2018), LifeSprout (2017) and Sonavex (2016).

“It is a true honor to win the BioHealth Capital Region Crab Trap this year. Being an entrepreneur, especially in life sciences, is a difficult journey. Being recognized by this panel of judges is an achievement we are proud of.” said Benjamin Holmes, Nanchon CEO. “When we first created Nanochon, we were not sure we would stay in the region long term. However, the area continues to grow and provide the support and ecosystem we need to succeed and grow too.”

In addition to Nanochone, the judges and virtual audience viewed four other finalists’ presentations: Hubly SurgicalLinshomRevalo, and VNTC.

“The companies who present as part of the Crab Trap every year continue to be remarkable with their visions for the future of BioHealth.” said Richard Bendis, BHI President & CEO. “Not only do we applaud Nanochon and all the finalists this year, but also all the competitors over the past six years of this event. They truly are the future of this industry.”

Click here for a replay of the 6th Annual Crab Trap Competition is available online by

Founded in 2016, the Crab Trap Competition focuses on companies in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, healthcare services, e-health, mobile health, electronic medical records, health informatics, and biohealth cyber security.

About BioHealth Innovation, Inc.

BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) is a public-private nonprofit organization focused on accelerating biohealth (therapeutic, diagnostic, medtech, and health IT) commercialization in the BioHealth Capital Region (Maryland, DC, and Virginia). BHI’s team of expert Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, in-house venture analysts, and other professional staff work in the region to:

  • Facilitate technology commercialization,
  • Raise the profile of the industry cluster and individual organizations,
  • Increase access to capital for early-stage and growing companies, and
  • Expand the pool of talent with commercially relevant experience.

BHI’s early-stage company support includes market research and commercialization plan development, non-dilutive funding application assistance; a jobs board; event calendar; and introductions to investors, strategic partners, business advisors, and potential clients. BHI also manages wet lab space and provides referrals to other spaces for early-stage companies, offers soft-landing support for international companies, and works with partners to co-host the annual BioHealth Capital Region Forum and an annual BioHealth Capital Region investor partnering conference. For more information:


Media contacts:
Richard Bendis
Phone: 301-637-6439, e-mail:

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