Charles River Laboratories Completes Acquisition of Rockville’s Vigene Biosciences

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June 29, 2021 07:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

WILMINGTON, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (NYSE: CRL) announced today that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of Vigene Biosciences, Inc. for $292.5 million in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. In addition to the initial purchase price, the transaction includes additional payments of up to $57.5 million, contingent on future performance.

Based in Rockville, Maryland, Vigene Biosciences is a premier, gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), providing viral vector-based gene delivery solutions. Vigene’s primary area of expertise is CGMP viral vector manufacturing, which is used for gene therapies and gene-modified cell therapies. It also offers high-quality, research grade and CGMP plasmid DNA. The acquisition complements Charles River’s existing cell and gene therapy contract manufacturing capabilities and establishes an end-to-end, gene-modified cell therapy solution in the United States. In addition, the acquisition enables clients to seamlessly conduct analytical testing, process development, and manufacturing for advanced modalities with the same scientific partner, facilitating their goal of driving greater efficiency and accelerating their speed to market.

James C. Foster, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Charles River Laboratories, commented, “The addition of Vigene Biosciences’ extensive gene therapy capabilities further enhances Charles River’s position as a premier scientific partner for cell and gene therapies. It also accelerates our long-term revenue and earnings growth potential by expanding our portfolio in this emerging, high-growth market sector. We intend to continue to differentiate Charles River by delivering the scientific expertise and customizable approach required to support the complex needs of cell and gene therapy developers and innovators worldwide. Our goal is to become our clients’ scientific partner of choice for advanced drug modalities from discovery and non-clinical development to CGMP manufacturing.”

“We are pleased to welcome the exceptional team at Vigene to the Charles River family, and believe that together, we offer a compelling value proposition for clients and shareholders,” Mr. Foster concluded.

Vigene has become part of Charles River’s Manufacturing Solutions segment, which was renamed from Manufacturing Support to reflect the segment’s broader scientific capabilities with the addition of the Cell and Gene Therapy CDMO business.

Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “expect,” “will,” “may,” “estimate,” “plan,” “outlook,” and “project” and other similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. Forward-looking statements include statements in this news release regarding the acquisition of Vigene Biosciences, Inc., Charles River’s expectations with respect to the impact of Vigene on the Company, its product and service offerings, client perception, revenue, revenue growth rates, and earnings per share; Charles River’s projected future performance including revenue and earnings per share; as well as Charles River’s future growth in the area of cell and gene therapy CDMO services. Forward-looking statements are based on Charles River’s current expectations and beliefs, and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to differ materially from those stated or implied by the forward-looking statements. Those risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, our ability to successfully integrate Vigene, and risks and uncertainties associated with Vigene’s products and services. A further description of these risks, uncertainties, and other matters can be found in the Risk Factors detailed in Charles River’s Annual Report on Form 10-K as filed on February 17, 2021, and the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q as filed on May 4, 2021, as well as other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Because forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, actual results and events may differ materially from results and events currently expected by Charles River, and Charles River assumes no obligation and expressly disclaims any duty to update information contained in this news release except as required by law.

About Charles River

Charles River provides essential products and services to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government agencies and leading academic institutions around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Our dedicated employees are focused on providing clients with exactly what they need to improve and expedite the discovery, early-stage development and safe manufacture of new therapies for the patients who need them. To learn more about our unique portfolio and breadth of services, visit


Investor Contact:
Todd Spencer
Corporate Vice President, Investor Relations

Media Contact:
Amy Cianciaruso
Corporate Vice President, Public Relations

Childrens National Hospital joins pediatric health challenge led by Center for Advancing Innovation

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Leading children’s hospital provides clinical validation, IP for health challenge designed to advance pediatric innovation

Reinforcing its commitment to expanding innovation in pediatric care, Children’s National Hospital is joining with the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI), and collaborators Resonance Philanthropies and Digital Infuzion, to launch the 2021-2022 Innovate Children’s Health Challenge to encourage the commercialization of technologies that improve children’s health care. This year’s event, Innovate Children’s Health II, focuses on technologies that address pandemic resiliency and prevention in the pediatric population and seeks to advance diagnostics, therapeutics and digital health tools that address pediatric mental health.

Led by CAI, a Maryland-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the initiative matches entrepreneurial talent with breakthrough inventions to launch startups and connect them with capital. For this challenge, more than 15 startups will compete for the opportunity to commercialize promising mental health solutions from a variety of research partners, including Children’s National. Nationally recognized for its expertise and commitment to innovation in pediatric care, Children’s National will contribute to the clinical validation of selected technologies.

“In addition to our role in providing clinical validation, this initiative provides the opportunity for intellectual property (IP) developed by leading clinicians at Children’s National Hospital, as well as other great pediatric institutions, to be considered for partnership with entrepreneurs who can help bring these technologies to market,” says Kolaleh Eskandanian, Ph.D., M.B.A., P.M.P., vice president and chief innovation officer at Children’s National. “Our mission is to improve children’s health care and Innovate Children’s Health II is a great way to harness this trifecta model – innovation, talent and capital – in order to develop breakthrough solutions that address the unique needs of pediatric patients.”

There are three ways to participate in Innovate Children’s Health II:

  • Entrepreneurial-minded people – alone or as members of multidisciplinary teams – may compete to commercialize vetted inventions, selected out of patents and patent applications from CAI’s research partners by a committee of industry experts and potential investors.
  • Existing startups may enter the challenge with other public health-related inventions, including their own and/or others to which they have access.
  • Participants may submit ideas that they believe will improve emergency preparedness and pandemic response. CAI will help ideators create a business model to advance their solutions.

Eskandanian highlights the unique model of this challenge, which matches intellectual property with ambitious entrepreneurs and capital, as a critical step in leveraging existing patents that would help improve care for pediatric patients but, under traditional industry conditions, would not make it to market.

Inventors and technology licensing officers may submit inventions to be evaluated and made available for licensing to challenge winners. Innovate Children’s Health II will accept invention submissions until Sept. 1, 2021. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit and interest in stopping current and future pandemics is invited to sign up to learn more about the challengeTeams may also enroll in the challenge to choose a featured invention, bring in a third-party invention or get matched with an invention based on area of interest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made our children anxious, depressed and pessimistic about their futures. Through Innovate Children’s Health II, CAI and our strategic partner Children’s National, we will strive to give our children hope,” says Rosemarie Truman, founder and CEO of CAI. “We are grateful to Digital Infuzion and Resonance Philanthropies for their support, which makes this challenge possible.”

Eskandanian adds that supporting and expanding pediatric innovation is a key focus of the new Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, the first-of-its-kind focused on pediatric health care innovation, with the first phase currently open on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus in Washington, D.C. With its proximity to federal research institutions and agencies, universities, academic research centers, as well as on-site incubator Johnson and Johnson Innovation – JLABS, the campus provides a rich ecosystem of public and private partners which will help bolster pediatric innovation and commercialization.

Media Contact: Samantha Desmond | 713-524-8170

About The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI)

The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) is a global public-private partnership, non-profit focused on creating a virtuous circle of innovation and driving growth breakthroughs through novel, creative paradigms, and models. CAI’s mission is to accelerate and increase the volume of technology commercialization to ignite entrepreneurship, bolster the global economy, and maximize the potential of promising inventions. CAI’s award-winning challenge-based accelerator, rigorous evidence-based due diligence, and capital-efficient lean management models serve to hyper-accelerated “gazelle” high-performing startups for outsized investor returns. For additional information about CAI, please visit

About Children’s National Hospital

Children’s National Hospital, based in Washington, D.C., celebrates 150 years of pediatric care, research and commitment to community. Volunteers opened the hospital in 1870 with 12 beds for children displaced after the Civil War. Today, 150 years stronger, it is among the nation’s top 10 children’s hospitals. It is ranked No.1 for newborn care for the fifth straight year and ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. Children’s National is transforming pediatric medicine for all children. In 2021, the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus opened, the first in the nation dedicated to pediatric research. Children’s National has been designated three times in a row as a Magnet® hospital, demonstrating the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery. This pediatric academic health system offers expert care through a convenient, community-based primary care network and specialty care locations in the D.C. metropolitan area, including Maryland and Virginia. Children’s National is home to the Children’s National Research Institute and Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and is the nation’s seventh-highest NIH-funded children’s hospital. It is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, reg ional and national levels.

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Cartesian Therapeutics President & Chief Executive Officer, Murat Kalayoglu, MD, PhD, Returns to BioTalk

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Dr. Murat Kalayoglu, President and CEO at Cartesian Therapeutics, provides an update since his last visit on their cell and gene therapies, as well as fundraising successes.

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Dr. Murat Kalayoglu is President and CEO at Cartesian Therapeutics, a fully integrated, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering RNA cell therapy in and beyond oncology. The company, founded in 2016, with three assets in clinical trials, is the leader in RNA cell therapy with products in development for autoimmune, oncologic and respiratory disorders. Cartesian’s investigational therapies are manufactured at a wholly owned, state-of-the-art cGMP manufacturing facility in Gaithersburg, MD. Prior to Cartesian, Dr. Kalayoglu was co-founder and CEO of Topokine, which he led from concept to late-stage clinical trials, followed by a successful sale to Allergan. Dr. Kalayoglu was also co-founder and COO of HealthHonors Corporation, which he led from concept to commercialization, followed by a successful sale to Healthways. Dr. Kalayoglu is a board-certified ophthalmologist who completed his residency and research Fellowship at Harvard, MD/PhD in immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Click here for the transcript.

The Life Sciences Expansion Capitol: How Montgomery County, MD, Became a Top Life Sciences Destination

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By Max Donley

EVP, Internal Operations and Strategy at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Last month, I was chosen to speak on a panel with leaders in the biotech industry and we all had two things in common: a great appreciation for this emerging life sciences region along with office headquarters in Montgomery County, MD.

It’s no secret the Maryland/DC region has been up-and-coming as a Life Sciences hub over the last decade or so, and I’m proud to say that Aurinia is part of leading this growth. With our move last year to establish a U.S. hub here in Rockville and build on our headquarters in Victoria, B.C., we’ve played a role in making this area a more powerful life sciences destination.

At Aurinia, our mission is to transform people’s lives by delivering therapeutics that change the course of autoimmune disease. We view improving the health of patients and helping patients with chronic unmet needs like lupus nephritis as our responsibility. It is not just a privilege to be working in the lupus space, but an obligation, and the county and the state’s recognition and support of this obligation is a tremendous resource for our ability to support our patients.

We established our U.S. commercial headquarters in Montgomery County in the midst of lockdown with a long-term view that this move to a growing life sciences sector would only serve to advance the development of our company over the coming months and years. We were not alone – as Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney noted in a recent article, the area has continued to grow and thrive through the pandemic, a small silver lining in this unimaginable crisis. Since establishing our local presence, the Aurinia team has been proud to have received FDA approval for our new therapy earlier this year, and for our new Montgomery County hub to serve as home base for our early commercialization efforts.

I feel fortunate to have witnessed the growth in the Montgomery county area over my career, with companies including Medimmune, Sucampo and now Aurinia, and to have seen and worked with the strong talent that exists in this region. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Montgomery County has attracted such strong biopharma expertise over the years. Home of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the FDA and 38 federal labs, and with nearly $8 billion in funding flowing into the life sciences sector in 2020 alone, this area is a hotbed of scientific research and accomplishment.

Over the years, the investment that the county, the state and the region have put into supporting biopharma here has transformed the landscape and we’re now seeing the fruits of this labor in the incredible accomplishments achieved throughout the region. This has created a more diverse and supportive landscape for companies like ours to grow and flourish in the biopharma space. It’s been a fun journey, and there is certainly plenty more opportunities for those currently here and future tenants to make meaningful impacts in treating diseases for patients and their families in need of support.

I couldn’t be happier to be able to call Montgomery County my home for over 20 years. Not only is it a fantastic place to both work, but live as well. The Nation’s capital is right down the road, there is a fantastic network of school systems across all levels of education and the more people that flock towards the region only increase its liveliness and diversity. Not to mention our hometown Washington Nationals and Capitals bringing two championships home to add to our hometown pride!

For all of the above reasons I’m proud to be a part of the change happening in Montgomery County, to build our Aurinia team in the U.S. here, and to share our culture with the local community.

Vita Therapeutics Raises $32 Million in Oversubscribed Series A Financing Led by Cambrian Biopharma to Advance the Development of Therapies to Treat Muscular Dystrophies

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June 23, 2021 07:05 AM Eastern Daylight Time

BALTIMORE, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vita Therapeutics, a cell engineering company harnessing the power of genetics to develop cellular therapies that follow an autologous and universal hypoimmunogenic approach, today announced the completion of an oversubscribed $32 million Series A. The financing was led by Cambrian Biopharma with participation from Kiwoom Bio, SCM Life Sciences, and Early Light Ventures.

“At Vita Therapeutics our mission is to deliver long-term disease-modifying cell engineered treatments for patients living with muscular dystrophies and other high unmet medical needs,” said Douglas Falk, M.S., Chief Executive Officer of Vita Therapeutics. “We are pleased this high-caliber group of new and existing investors share our enthusiasm and belief in Vita’s ability to progress our innovative treatments to help these patients. This oversubscribed round of financing will enable the company to take the next steps toward achieving our mission.”

“Cell therapies have two grand challenges – getting enough cells and differentiating them into the right cell type to make a long-term impact on a patient’s disease,” said James Peyer, PhD., newly appointed board member of Vita and Chief Executive Officer of Cambrian Biopharma. “By mastering the transition from iPSC to muscle stem cell, Vita can make an unlimited amount of carefully defined muscle stem cells, which has never been possible before. I am so glad to count Vita as a Cambrian affiliate, and I have no doubt Vita will become a genre-defining cell therapy company.”

Vita’s lead therapy, VTA-100, is currently undergoing investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies for the treatment of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) 2A/R1. It is designed to be an autologous treatment that combines gene correction and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to help repair and replace muscle cells. Vita’s second therapeutic, VTA-200, is a genetically engineered iPSC derived hypoimmunogenic treatment designed to treat multiple types of muscular dystrophy.

The Series A financing will support the completion of all remaining IND-enabling studies for VTA-100 and its subsequent IND submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This funding will also support the manufacturing of cells needed for clinical evaluation as well as patient recruitment efforts for the first clinical trial. In addition, this financing will be used to further the development of VTA-200 and the development of VTA-300, an undisclosed cell type.

About Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy

Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) is a group of disorders that cause weakness and wasting of muscles closest to the body (proximal muscles), specifically the muscles of the shoulders, upper arms, pelvic area, and thighs. The severity, age of onset, and disease progression of LGMD vary among the more than 30 known sub-types of this condition and may be inconsistent even within the same sub-type. As the atrophy and muscle weakness progresses, individuals with LGMD begin to have trouble lifting objects, walking, and climbing stairs, often requiring the use of assistive mobility devices. There is currently no cure for LGMD, with treatments limited to supportive therapies such as corticosteroids.

About Vita Therapeutics

Vita Therapeutics, a Cambrian Biopharma affiliate, is a cell engineering company harnessing the power of genetics to develop cellular therapies that follow a dual manufacturing strategy, first beginning autologously before moving to a universal hypoimmunogenic cell line. Vita was originally founded out of the labs of Dr. Gabsang Lee and Dr. Kathryn Wagner at Johns Hopkins University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute in 2019 by Douglas Falk, M.S. and Peter Andersen, PhD. The company utilizes induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to engineer specific cell types designed to replace those that are defective in patients. We are currently working to progress our lead therapeutic, VTA-100, for the treatment of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD), into clinical trials. For more information and important updates, please visit or follow us on Twitter @Vita_Tx and LinkedIn.


Susan Sharpe

Connected DMV Released First Cross-Sector Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) 1.0 Report”

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June 3, 2021 (Washington, D.C.)— The once-in-a-generation pandemic highlighted both the region’s continued lag in economic competitiveness and the absence of a cohesive and coordinated economic development strategy. The Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) initiative, launched by Connected DMV, has released the first regional cross-sector blueprint to advance economic opportunity and social equity in Greater Washington, the culmination of a year of work by the REDS Steering Committee.


The REDS 1.0 Report, “One: A Blueprint for Enduring Collaboration to Advance Economic Opportunity and Equity in Greater Washington,” lays the foundation for a long-term collaborative framework to improve the competitive advantage of the region both nationally and around the world by operationalizing an enduring cross-sector model made up of leaders from the public sector, industry, academia, community nonprofits and philanthropy working together to advance equitable economic development to improve opportunity for all. Further, it makes the case that the region can only solve structural regional problems that have been endemic constraints by coming together as a table of equal stakeholders across jurisdictions and sectors.


“This moment is a turning point for Greater Washington. Let’s choose to work together. Only then can we recover from the losses suffered during the pandemic and achieve unimaginable results to ensure no matter what neighborhood you’re from, Greater Washington becomes an even better place to live and work,” the Steering Committee wrote in the Report’s foreword.


The report lays out key challenges that have historically kept many communities within the region from prospering, often starkest along an east-west divide in the region, and outlines the planned path forward through 2024. It also confirms the early focus areas for joint programming to be further designed, developed, and implemented, aligned with an integrated vision for social equity and economic development.


Key recommendations for high-potential entry points for greater regional collaboration:

Regional Economic Growth

  • Plan, design and build the first release of a collaborative, data-driven DMV Atlas (DMV Atlas: Accelerating Equitable Regional Growth) with pilot use cases synthesizing cross-sector data sets to unearth new equitable growth opportunities and improve regional planning, investment, and programming

  • Launch a regional leadership workstream focused on closing the region’s East-West divide along ten equity impact areas, and informing DMV Atlas development, as well as other REDS join programs


Regional Branding and Marketing

  • Host visioning sessions to include full cross-sector representation to define a joint regional branding and marketing program

  • Organize the first joint regional outreach delegation to attend a national or global tradeshow

  • Launch planning of a major, local, net-new event focused on a regional industry cluster growth area


Regional Talent Pipeline

  • Initiate development of a regional career opportunities platform with available upskilling/reskilling resources, internships, apprenticeships, and jobs

  • Establish a forum to develop coordinated regional actions to secure federal, state, and philanthropic funds, resources, and programs related to talent and workforce development


In addition to REDS, Connected DMV’s COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force has launched a number of other specific initiatives that provide early proof points in shaping large-scale, net-new growth opportunities across the region through deliberate public-private-academia-community collaboration. They include the Global Pandemic Prevention & Biodefense Center, the National Capital Hydrogen Center, Connectivity for All and the Potomac Quantum Innovation Center (PQIC). REDS will serve as a mechanism to deepen coordination around these initiatives and other regional strategic initiatives with broad economic development scope or potential.


About REDS and Next Steps:

REDS 1.0 is the culmination of intensive work that was undertaken from September 2020 to May 2021 by the REDS Steering Committee and Working Group. The Steering Committee consists of 23 results-driven cross-sector leaders from across the region. Their work represents the first time that a cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional group has come together with a shared vision and purpose of laying out guiding principles and goals for collaborative regional economic development. The initiative was approved by Connected DMV’s COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force, a group formed to improve the long-term social, physical and digital infrastructures for inclusive economic growth and renewal across the entire DMV region, post-pandemic.


Over the remainder of 2021, the REDS team will continue to convene regional stakeholders, launch joint economic development programs, unearth new opportunities for equitable growth, and take the necessary steps to formalize an enduring regional economic development collaborative.


While REDS 1.0 laid the groundwork, two other phases will build a structured, long-term cooperative mechanism to drive equitable economic growth through joint programs. In REDS 2.0 (Timeframe: June-December 2021) the blueprint will continue to be refined and REDS stakeholders will formalize collaboration and launch joint programs. In REDS 3.0 (Timeframe: 2022-2024), the focus will be on operationalizing collaboration and delivering sustained programs.


Quotes from REDS Steering Committee members follow below:

“We are creating something new: a more economically equitable and collaborative region. Imagine what we could achieve by doing bigger and better things together, from developing a regional talent pipeline to marketing the region to the world. Only by collaborating regionally on economic development can the entire Washington region reach its full potential as a global technology and innovation hub.”

  • Victor Hoskins, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority


“Years and years of fragmented policy and decision-making by both the public and private sectors has led to inequitable and non-inclusive economic development in the region. Instead of every jurisdiction fending for itself, we need new thinking to place facilities and capacity equitably across the entire region as one marketplace. Working together on economic development activities collectively as a region would be an important step in that direction.”

  • David Iannucci, Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation


“Working within each of our jurisdictions, we have found that we share similar interests in certain sector strategies and local priorities. Coming together to find common ground as a region allows us to amplify our individual assets and strengths. A strong, resilient, and inclusive regional economy in the Greater Washington area benefits us all.”

  • Benjamin H. Wu, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation


“In order to reach our region’s true economic and equitable growth potential, we must meaningfully collaborate to jointly tackle our shared regional challenges and opportunities. We are in a much stronger position to do this, building on the success that the NOVA EDA has experienced since our establishment in 2019 – and with the understanding that success grows exponentially as the entire region collaborates on shared economic development goals.”

  • Stephanie Landrum, Alexandria Economic Development Partnership


“The Washington DC region is uniquely positioned for economic prosperity, both nationally and internationally. The Regional Economic Development Strategy provides economic development leaders with the framework and tools necessary to work collaboratively and ensures that we realize our potential and grow together.”

  • Keith Sellars, Washington DC Economic Partnership


“The DMV has lacked a strategy and forum for cross-sector regional economic development. REDS fills this void, as commissioned by the COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force. Connected DMV will continue to bring the region together to drive collaborative net-new economic growth opportunities that deliver tangible social equity benefits.”

  • Stu Solomon, Connected DMV


“The unique neighborhoods and jurisdictions that make up our region are deeply interconnected. That’s why our region deserves a collaborative approach to economic development that includes everyone and lets all our assets shine. The work highlighted in this report represents another step forward towards that goal.”

  • Jack McDougle, Greater Washington Board of Trade


“COG recognizes the great strides that have been made recently in economic development collaboration with the NOVA EDA and MDNCREDA. Charting a more equitable development path for Metropolitan Washington is needed, and we look forward to further alignment between REDS and COG planning committees and the Region Forward Coalition moving forward.”

  • Chuck Bean, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments


“Greater Washington’s racial and socioeconomic divisions are real, and they are regional. It is critical for leaders across business, government, civil society, academia, and philanthropy to come together now to do the hard work of creating a better regional environment for uplifting all of our communities.”

  • Rosie Allen-Herring, United Way of the National Capital Area


As a long-standing anchor institution in the region, Pepco applauds the development of a regional forum for economic development collaboration that enables dialogue across sectors to shape data-driven inclusive growth opportunities for the communities we serve.”

  • Felecia Greer, Pepco


“Every decision we make as regional economic development and planning leaders should be addressing the socioeconomic divide through an equitable growth lens. We must engage existing residents who are chronically and structurally marginalized first. This region is fortunate to have the resources to resolve our persistent and inexcusable economic disparities, and we will become a more desirable region for growth and investment by letting the outside world know that we take care of our own.”

  • Shyam Kannan, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority


“Metropolitan Washington is the world’s greatest college town, research park, and showcase for human intellectual and cultural excellence. In many ways, the region leads the world in scientific research, education, culture, and the arts in addition to power and policy. The region is intertwined with, and inseparable from, its educational and research institutions, museums, and international presence. We don’t acknowledge this boldly enough as a community.”

  • Andrew Flagel, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area


“The Regional Economic Development Strategy initiative is about finding what we can do together as a region that we can’t do alone, showing the world that we are ready for the next iteration of how we’re going to live, work, and thrive. Regional interconnectivity will be even more important going forward.”

  • Bob Buchanan, The 2030 Group


“As the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, we focus on economic development through business and leisure travel. Working with regional partners to market Greater Washington and plan events that attract national and international attention makes economic sense and can move the needle for our region in the long term.”

  • Elliott L. Ferguson, II, Destination DC


“As a region, we must build a talent and workforce pipeline that is interconnected and multi-level, one that provides more equitable economic opportunity. It is critical that we work together to attract a more diverse, future-focused talent pool. Collectively, we can address talent development from a supply and demand side, delivering an inclusive labor market that complements the needs of emerging industries in the region such as Healthcare, IT, Cybersecurity, and Quantum.”

  • Dr. Anne Kress, Northern Virginia Community College


“Equitable places are attractive places. Especially in light of the past year’s long-overdue racial justice reckoning, creating a diverse and well-educated talent pipeline is a stake in the ground for regional longevity and attracting private sector investment.”

  • Travis Reindl, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


“We must build a broader pipeline and network for investing that is reflective of the diversity of our region. Venture capital and other forms of private investment must be at the table to contribute to equitable economic development in our region.”

  • Phil Bronner, Ardent Ventures

About Connected DMV

Connected DMV is an initiatives-based, charitable 501(c)(3) organization that works with regional organizations across Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia – the DMV – to help drive ongoing improvements to social, digital, and physical infrastructure. Connected DMV focuses on initiatives that span local jurisdictions and require public-private-academia-community collaboration to best achieve the dual objectives of enduring economic health and social equity.




Toni DeLancey (703) 980-5935

Dr. Laurie E. Locascio, Vice President for Research at both the University of Maryland College Park and Baltimore, Joins Rich Bendis on a New Episode of BioTalk

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Dr. Laurie E. Locascio, Vice President for Research at both the University of Maryland College Park and Baltimore, Visits BioTalk to Discuss Her Career, Tech Transfer, and the Two Institutions Working Together

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Laurie E. Locascio, Ph.D., is the Vice President for Research at the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

In this role, Dr. Locascio oversees the University of Maryland’s vibrant research and innovation enterprise at these two campuses, which garner a combined $1.1 billion in external research funding each year. Within Locascio’s purview are the development of large interdisciplinary research programs, technology commercialization, innovation and economic development efforts, and strategic partnerships with industry, federal, academic, and nonprofit collaborators. She is a professor in Maryland’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering, and professor (secondary) in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dr. Locascio previously worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), most recently as Acting Principal Deputy Director and Associate Director responsible for leading the internal scientific research and laboratory programs across two campuses in Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder, CO.

Locascio received a B.Sc. in chemistry from James Madison University, a M.Sc. in bioengineering from the University of Utah, and a Ph.D. in toxicology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. As a biomedical researcher, she published more than 100 scientific papers and 12 patents.

Click here to download the transcript.

BioBuzz In Conversation: Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Marc Elrich

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County Executive Elrich Shares Thoughts On the Global Pandemic and Biodefense Center, Quantum Computing & Biotech Growth in the County

Montgomery County (MOCO), Maryland, sits at the epicenter of biopharma growth, investment, and innovation that makes the BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) one of the top bio clusters in the world. The past 15 or so months has seen the region’s biohealth momentum accelerate significantly, spurred on by the race to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, expansion in the cell and gene therapy sector, as well as increased activity around advanced biomanufacturing, among other positive indicators.

It’s been an historic year for the BHCR, and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has had a front row seat to the heartache, resilience, and triumphs of not only his constituents but also the regional biopharma industry.

As Maryland and the region slowly return to a sense of normalcy over the coming months, it’s important to look back but also to look forward. A host of BHRC leaders, including Elrich, Stu Solomon of ConnectedDMVRich Bendis of BioHealth InnovationMarty Rosendale of the Maryland Tech Council, Benjamin H. Wu, President & CEO, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation and, among others, are doing just that.

Led by the efforts of Solomon and ConnectedDMV, the region-wide collaborative of leaders recently received $500K in funding from the MOCO City Council to support the strategic development phase of the new Global Pandemic and Biodefense Center (The Center) that will be potentially headquartered in MOCO.

The Center will house the AHEAD100 program led by Dr. James Crowe Jr., Director, Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, Ann Scott Carell Chair, who has spent the past decade preparing for the next global health epidemic.

Click here to read more via BioBuzz

miRecule Inc. closes $5.7 M to Create Breakthrough RNA Therapies for Cancer and Muscular Dystrophy

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Gaithersburg, MD. (May, 25 2021) miRecule, Inc. (“miRecule”), an emerging biotech company focused on the development of cutting-edge RNA therapeutics, announced today it has closed over $5.7M in seed funding. The funding round was led by Alexandria Venture Investments, along with Boutique Venture Partners, Pathway Bioventures, Alumni Ventures Group, and national angel investors, with additional funding coming from the Maryland Momentum Fund and the FSHD Society. This funding includes a non-dilutive $2M Phase II SBIR grant from the National Cancer Institute.

miRecule will utilize the funding to drive its lead microRNA therapy (MC-30) towards clinical development for head & neck cancer, the 6th most common form of cancer worldwide. “We are hopeful MC-30 could be a real game-changer. By correcting the underlying mutation that creates resistance to treatment, we think we can triple response rates and give years of quality life back to many patients,” commented CEO Anthony Saleh.

miRecule’s DREAmiRTM discovery platform was developed through over a decade of research in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland. DREAmiR integrates genomic and clinical outcomes data from thousands of patients to identify underlying genetic drivers of disease, and then designs matching RNA therapeutics that directly correct those abnormalities. miRecule is applying its platform to a range of diseases, including cancer, muscular dystrophy, and even viruses such as HIV and COVID-19.

miRecule has also utilized DREAmiR to develop MC-DX4, an antisense oligonucleotide treatment for Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD). FSHD is one of the most common muscular dystrophies, with over 40,000 patients in the US (many of whom are children). Currently, there are no FDA approved treatments for FSHD. “The FSHD Society is excited to be a funding partner in this endeavor, which aligns strongly with our mission to reduce obstacles inherent in the clinical & regulatory process for FSHD,” said Mark Stone, CEO of the FSHD society.

miRecule was founded in 2017 in Montgomery County, Maryland in BioHealth Innovation’s (BHI) incubator by CEO Anthony D. Saleh, PhD and Chief Operating Officer Ashwin Kulkarni, MS. miRecule has been able to raise much of its seed funding from investors in the BioHealth Capital Region. “BHI is proud to have been a co-founder with miRecule, and assist in their fundraising and growth here in Maryland. Anthony is a role model having transitioned from an academic scientist to a successful entrepreneur, and we are glad to have supported him through this process” said Rich Bendis CEO of BHI. miRecule was able to utilize two programs to leverage their investment and grant funding. The Maryland Biotechnology Investment Tax Credit program, which provided a 50% match to their investors, and the Montgomery County SBIR matching funds grant which provided $25,000 on top of their NCI grant.

“We think miRecule’s therapeutics will vastly improve the lives of patients by changing the course of their serious diseases” said Dr. Rami El Assal, Managing Partner & Co-founder of Boutique Venture Partners. “miRecule’s innovative, data-driven discovery engine shows true platform potential for the next generation of RNA therapeutics. We were really glad to have miRecule participate in Alexandria’s Seed Capital Platform, and ultimately participate in the company’s seed round,” said Conley Jones from Alexandria Venture Investments.

Connected DMV Announces DMV Regional Congress to Promote Economic Renewal, Social Equity

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser addresses cross-sector regional organization’s final COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force meeting

May 20, 2021 (Washington, D.C.)– Connected DMV held its ninth and final COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force meeting, where they announced the formation of the DMV Regional Congress to continue the Task Force’s mission of advancing strategic initiatives to promote economic renewal and social equity in the region. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also addressed the Task Force, where she gave an update on the District’s reopening plans. She also thanked the cross-sector regional nonprofit for its work in bringing together all of the region’s stakeholders for the shared purpose of creating a more economically vibrant and equitable future for all in Greater Washington on behalf of the District and Maryland and Virginia Governors Larry Hogan and Ralph Northam.

The joint statement affirming the Task Force and its work from Mayor Bowser and Governors Hogan and Northam read:

“Whereas the greater Washington metropolitan area is a diverse and complex region with abundant assets and resources; and Whereas the opportunities for economic growth and social equity are fully achievable only by working together across our jurisdictions and sectors to improve our physical, digital, economic and social infrastructures so that all who live, work and play in the DMV region can thrive, especially those in our most vulnerable and underserved communities; Now, therefore, we hereby affirm the benefits of co-equal, cross-sector regional collaboration, as demonstrated by the work of the Connected DMV COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force, and the enduring leadership of the resulting DMV Regional Congress.”

“Greater Washington is one of the most dynamic, diverse and fastest growing regions in the country and we want to ensure that everyone who calls the DMV home has the opportunity to thrive,” said Richard Bynum, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, PNC Financial Services Group and COVID-19 Task Force Member. “With a keen understanding that a going it alone approach was not an option, Connected DMV has been able to successfully bring the unique perspectives and strengths of all those invested in our region to the table for a common purpose of improving our region economically and equitably for the long-term. While there is much work left to do, the Task Force should be proud of what they have accomplished to date. I am excited for what’s to come as we advance our current initiatives and create new ones.

Connected DMV works with regional organizations across Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia — the DMV — to deliver initiatives that provide a stronger and more equitable future for all who live, learn, work, and prosper in Greater Washington. Last year, Connected DMV and its regional partners created the organization’s COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force that brought the region together with a mission of improving the long-term social, physical, and digital infrastructures for inclusive economic growth and renewal across the entire DMV region.

The 51-member Task Force, representing the CEOs of 17 regional organizations along with leaders from private industry, government, academia, philanthropy and community convened monthly to approve 13 region-wide key initiatives that address economic renewal and social equity in response to the pandemic in 10 key areas that are critical to making an impact on some of our region’s most vulnerable communities: technology and connectivity, finance, workforce development, education, public safety, transportation, food and water, energy, healthcare and housing.

These programs represent billions of dollars in net-new opportunities and jobs for Greater Washington and a major step forward in the work to close the stark East-West socioeconomic divide in the region. Key initiatives include creating a Global Pandemic Prevention & Biodefense Center, establishing a state-of-the art Hydrogen Center, positioning the region as a leader in next generation quantum technology through the launch of the Potomac Quantum Innovation Center (PQIC), and helping to close the digital divide in the region through its Connectivity for All initiative.

What the last year of collaboration by the Task Force and through the strategic initiatives has revealed is that this kind of cross-sector, co-equal collaboration works. As such, the Task Force has agreed to make this model sustainable and transition to a new body called the DMV Regional Congress. Its role will be to serve as an enduring body in the region, representing private industry, academia, philanthropy, and the community and ensure that all representatives have a co-equal seat at the table to continue the work already underway to bring further economic renewal and social equity to the region, as well as considering and approving new initiatives to solve some of the region’s greatest challenges.

“I want to thank all the members of the COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force who came together, especially in a moment of crisis in our region, and worked hard and collaboratively on key innovative initiatives that help point the DMV towards sound economic footing while removing barriers to achieving a more equitable society,” said Stu Solomon, President & CEO, Connected DMV. “Their commitment to a single, results driven mission for our region was as unprecedented as it was remarkable. I’m thankful and encouraged by the Task Force commitments to be part of the DMV Regional Congress to further advance the important work that is already underway.”

One of the Task Force’s founding members was Major General Omar Jones, whose command of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region will end in June. He also addressed the meeting and thanked Task Force Members on all that they have accomplished over the past two short years. “It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as a liaison to the Connected DMV’s COVID-19 Strategic Renewal Task Force, a group comprised of highly accomplished individuals in their respective fields,” said Major General Jones. “While we are a diverse group, we are united in a singular mission to ensure that we create thoughtful, responsible and achievable results driven initiatives to help our region grow economically, equitably and safely now and in the years to come. In terms of getting these initiatives off the ground, I am proud to say our mission is accomplished.”

In June, Connected DMV’s Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) Steering Committee – made up of 23 cross-sector organizations from around the region – will publish the Regional Economic Development Strategy Report, a blueprint for enduring cross-sector collaboration for regional economic development and equity. The REDS initiative was approved by the Task Force last year. The report is the culmination of a year of collaboration and will be the first time in our region’s history that a group of leaders from private industry, economic development and planning organizations, academia, philanthropy, and community organizations has come together to improve Greater Washington’s competitive advantages and focus directly on delivering equitable regional economic outcomes to improve the lives of all who live and work in Greater Washington.

The REDS report will also include a vision for the DMV Atlas: Accelerating Equitable Regional Growth, a collaborative platform and program that will aggregate, map, and analyze data from key regional stakeholders to inform better and more efficient cross-sector planning, partnerships, investment, programming, and tracking. It will help to drive improved leadership decision-making across sectors and jurisdictional boundaries, grounded in a nuanced regional context that advances equitable economic growth. Moving forward, the REDS effort will help generate, prioritize, and advance prospective strategic initiatives of regional economic development significance for consideration by the DMV Regional Congress.

The first meeting of the newly assembled DMV Regional Congress is slated for September of this year.

About Connected DMV

Connected DMV is an initiatives-based, charitable 501(c)(3) organization that works with regional organizations across Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia – the DMV – to help drive ongoing improvements to social, digital, and physical infrastructure. Connected DMV focuses on initiatives that span local jurisdictions and require public-private-academia-community collaboration to best achieve the dual objectives of enduring economic health and social equity.


Toni DeLancey (703) 980-5935

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