Thursday, June 11, 2009

BIO hosts events at UNFCCC in Bonn

BIO to Host Side Event at Bonn Climate Change Talks “Biotechnology: Solutions for Climate Change”

WHAT: The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) will host a side event at the upcoming UNFCCC Climate Change Talks in Bonn. Biotechnology offers a broad range of tools to address climate change. This briefing will focus on clean, renewable alternatives to petroleum-based fuels and products, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes, and the use of sustainable agricultural practices.

WHO: Stephanie Batchelor, Manager, Industrial & Environmental Section, BIO;
Willy De Greef, Secretary General, EuropaBio.

WHEN: Monday, June 1st from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

WHERE: Ministry of Environment, WIND Room
Robert-Schuman-Platz 3
53175 Bonn

NOTE: For additional information, please contact Stephanie Batchelor at 202-742-6498,, or Paul Winters at 202-962-9237,

For a full list of side events at the Bonn Climate Change Talks, visit

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology technologies. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.

Upcoming BIO Events

BioEquity Europe
June 9-10, 2009
Munich, Germany

World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing
July 19-22, 2009
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)
Paul Winters, 202-962-9237

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Celera cuts its last tie to Maryland biotech

It’s official, the end of an era. Celera Corp., once among the biggest biotech brand names in the Washington area, is shuttering its last remaining operation in the region.

The company, which moved its home base to Alameda, Calif., last year, is laying off 20 of its 25 local employees and closing its 41,000-square-foot operation in Rockville by the end of the third quarter.

A small number of employees working on lung cancer diagnostic tests could move to the West Coast, while only one or two employees might stay in Rockville.

In its heyday, Celera employed 550 people in the company’s 220,000-square-foot headquarters on West Gude Drive, making it one of the region’s biggest success stories as it raced to map the humane genome.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

$18 million awarded to TGen and University of Pennsylvania

$18 million awarded to TGen and University of Pennsylvania for pancreatic cancer research from Stand Up to Cancer

Scottsdale Healthcare at Shea Medical Center a primary clinical site

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) will receive $18 million to research pancreatic cancer, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) announced today.
Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief, and Dr. Craig B. Thompson, Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn, are co-leaders of SU2C pancreatic cancer "Dream Team," which will lead a three-year investigation into new approaches to treating pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

"We want to do something dramatic. It is going to take a tremendous amount of real thinking power to make that difference, so it is a dream come true to be able to put this team together to work towards this goal," said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is Chief Scientific Officer for TGen Clinical Research Services (TCRS) at Scottsdale Healthcare, a primary clinical research site for TGen and the SU2C grant.

The $18 million to TGen and Penn was the largest single grant among five awards, totaling $74 million, announced by SU2C, a philanthropic group created by cancer scientists and members of the entertainment industry a year ago today to quickly turn scientific discoveries into ways to care for cancer patients.

The goal of the pancreatic cancer Dream Team research project – "Cutting Off the Fuel Supply" – is to develop tests, using advanced imaging techniques, to determine what nutrients pancreatic cancer cells require to fuel their growth and survival. Understanding the cell’s fuel supply will help scientists develop more individualized treatments with fewer side effects.

TGen and its clinical partner at TCRS will launch a series of innovative clinical trials in advanced pancreatic cancer. These clinical trials will be designed to deprive pancreatic tumors of crucial nutrients, thereby cutting off the fuel supply.

TCRS is located at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center in Scottsdale. Other clinical sites in the study are at Penn in Philadelphia and at John Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The TGen-Penn team will combine translational methods developed at the University of Pennsylvania with individualized-therapies emphasized by TGen to rapidly move laboratory findings to bedside treatments, benefiting pancreatic cancer patients as quickly as possible. They will test the drugs in combination with existing standard chemotherapy, with the hope of improving quality of life while increasing the percentage of patients surviving beyond one year.

Since its inception in 2002, TGen has pioneered cutting-edge research in genomic medicine, enabling physicians to design targeted and individualized therapies for patients suffering from cancer and other debilitating diseases.

About Dr. Daniel Von Hoff

In addition to his positions at TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare, Dr. Von Hoff is Chief Scientific Officer for US Oncology, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona. His major interest is in the development of new anticancer agents. Dr. Von Hoff’s work focuses on the development of molecularly targeted therapies for patients with pancreatic and other advanced cancers. He is serving a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board and has served on the FDA’s Oncology Advisory Committee. Dr. Von Hoff is a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research, was on the AACR and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Board of Directors, and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.

About Dr. Craig Thompson

In addition to his position at the Abramson Cancer Center, Dr. Thompson is the Associate Vice President for Cancer Services at the University of Pennsylvania Heath System, director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and the John H. Glick professor of medicine and cancer biology at the university’s School of Medicine. His research focuses on how alterations in the control of cell metabolism contribute to cancer cell development and survival. He has contributed to the development of new treatments for autoimmune diseases and leukemia.

About pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and it remains one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Over 90 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis. Recent advancements have had little impact, and a new approach is desperately needed.

Using modern tumor imaging, it is possible to monitor a tumor’s glucose utilization and such tests are now routinely used in clinical practice. In most cases, the more glucose a tumor is using, the more advanced the tumor and the greater likelihood of spread. Similarly, if a tumor is using less glucose as a response to chemotherapy, then it is a good indication that the tumor is responding to treatment.

Pancreatic cancer presents a unique challenge because it is addicted to another molecule, glutamine, rather than glucose. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps build muscle mass and is used by some cells for energy. When cancer feeds or metabolizes excess amounts of gluatamine, it can lead to extreme weight loss by robbing other cells of this important nutrient, a condition from which many pancreatic cancer patients suffer. In addition, the waste that is a by-product of this process generates an intense reaction from surrounding normal cells, which then secrete growth factors that help tumor cells grow. Cancers that use excess glutamine are often resistant to standard forms of chemotherapy, another characteristic of pancreatic cancer.

About the Dream Teams

The five Dream Teams – culled from 237 submissions – are comprised of seven leaders, four co-leaders and 27 principal researchers from more than 20 leading institutions, with more than 300 individuals participating:

"Cutting off the Fuel Supply: A New Approach to the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer" – $18 million – Leaders: Craig B. Thompson, M.D., Director, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, and Daniel D. Von Hoff, M.D., Senior Investigator and Physician in Chief at the Translational Research Genomics Institute (TGen).

"An Integrated Approach to Targeting Molecular Breast Cancer Molecular Subtypes and Their "Resistance" Phenotypes" – $16.5 million – Leaders: Joe W. Gray, Ph.D., Life Sciences Division Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dennis J. Slamon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Clinical/Translational Research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Targeting the PI3K Pathway in Women’s Cancers" – $15 million – Leader: Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Signal Transduction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Co-Leaders: Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., Director of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Gordon B. Mills, M.D., Ph.D., Chair, Department of Systems Biology, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"Bioengineering and Clinical Applications of Circulating Tumor Cells Chip" – $15 million – Leader: Daniel A. Haber, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; Co-Leader: Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Harvard Medical School.

"Bringing Epigenetic Therapy to the Forefront of Cancer Management" – $9.12 million – Leader: Stephen B. Baylin, M.D., Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins; Co-Leader: Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Urology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Southern California.
Collectively, the research that will be done through the Dream Team projects could impact the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of cancers in adults and children across ethnicities including, but not limited to pancreatic, breast, ovarian, cervical, uterine, brain, lung, prostate, rectal and colon. These represent two-thirds of all U.S. cancer deaths; 562,340 people are expected to die of cancer this year in the U.S., where on average 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. Worldwide, cancer annually kills nearly almost 8 million.

"(S)cientists need more money for research and easier ways to work together; and the entertainment industry has unique resources that can be called upon to help make every American aware that each and every one of us has a role to play in advancing cancer research," said Sherry Lansing, Board Chair of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and a member of the SU2C Executive Leadership Council. "From the person who can give five dollars to the philanthropist who can give millions, we are all connected to the devastation that cancer causes in our families, and together, we can Stand Up to end it."

On behalf of Stand Up To Cancer, the 28,000-member American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will be responsible for administering the grants.

Major donors

Major League Baseball was the first major donor to contribute to Stand Up To Cancer. Other major SU2C supporters include: Jones Apparel Group Inc. founder Sidney Kimmel, Amgen, AARP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, GlaxoSmithKline, Revlon, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Wallis Annenberg & The Annenberg Foundation, Alliance for Global Good, New York Giants, Milken Family Foundation, Philips Electronics, Steve Tisch, and The Island Def Jam Music Group.

About Stand Up To Cancer
The Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) movement raises funds to hasten the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. In 2007, a group of women whose lives have all been affected by cancer in profound ways began working together to marshal the resources of the media and entertainment industries in the fight against the disease. For more information about Stand Up To Cancer, please visit

About the American Association for Cancer Research
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focusing on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research from the bench to the bedside. Lauded internationally for its scientific breadth, innovation and spread of new knowledge about cancer, the AACR is on the front lines in the quest for the prevention and cure of cancer.

About the Entertainment Industry Foundation
The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), as a leading charitable organization of the entertainment industry, has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars to support programs addressing critical health, education and social issues.

About Scottsdale Healthcare:
Scottsdale Healthcare ( is the not-for-profit parent organization of Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak Hospital, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute, TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale Healthcare Home Health Services, Scottsdale Healthcare Community Health Services, NOAH Clinics and Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation. Scottsdale Healthcare ER wait times are updated every three minutes at

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is affiliated with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information, visit:

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Big Web 2.0 Technology Challenges

Big Web 2.0 Technology Challenges: Moderating Biotech, Pharma and Medical User-generated Content (UGC)

I know this post has jumped ahead in order of my planned posts on the technology challenges created in by Web 2.0. However, I recently had a few inquiries in this area (from friends, analysts and colleagues.) As such, I thought it would be beneficial to move this topic up in my series.

In general, moderation of UGC is not a simple prospect. Moderation of UGC in a regulated space is even tougher – especially in the very highly regulated biotech, pharmaceutical and medical industries (where regulation compliance is essentially intended to protect human life). Based on the sensitivity of this topic, it is worth diverting a little of your attention to some disclaimers and background information:

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Arizona BIO 2009

BIO 2009 - Stop by the Arizona Pavilion (Booth 4601)

Again this year, the AZ Dept. of Commerce has coordinated a pavilion that will showcase our state's bioscience community. In the pavilion, AZBio will highlight the AZBio Bioscience Company Directory and the Interactive Biomap on our website (click here), both exceptional tools for locating bioscience organizations in Arizona. As BIO's recognized state affiliate organization in Arizona, AZBio works closely with BIO throughout the year, and we hope to see many of our Arizona colleagues at the world's largest annual gathering of the biotechnology industry. For more information and to register for BIO 2009, click here.

Highlighted events on the online calendar:

April 30th - Experience Your Future Day (Glendale)
Presented by, Experience Your Future Day is a one-day, experiential learning event designed for 8th grade students to be able to experience hands-on what it's truly like to work in a chosen trade, profession or industry. For complete details, click here.

May 4th - Donald K. Buffmire Lecture presents Fernando D. Martinez, MD (Phoenix)
Fernando D. Martinez, MD, Director of the Arizona Respiratory Center and Interim Director of the BIO5 Institute will present “Genes and Environment at the Onset of Asthma and Allergies”. Dr. Martinez will discuss the natural history of childhood asthma, and the role of genetic, physiologic, immunologic and environmental factors as determinants of the risk for asthma in early life. Please RSVP to Mindy Shields by April 29 to or 602-827-2076. For more information, please click here.

May 15th - AZBio/BIO-SA Breakfast - An Ounce of (Chemo) Prevention (Tucson)
Eugene W. Gerner, Ph.D. will discuss his research and findings regarding Colorectal Cancer (CRC) and how he and his team have recently demonstrated remarkable efficacy for the prevention of recurrence of colon polyps, which are the forerunners of colon cancer. Click here for more information and to register online.

May 18th - 21st - 2009 BIO International Convention
The 2009 BIO International Convention will deliver the partnering tools, licensing tips and other industry resources you need to meet current economic challenges and to strengthen your biotech business for the future. Join 20,000 senior level life science professionals in Atlanta to explore valuable partnerships and discuss financial and strategic practices. For more information and to register, click here.

October 11th - 13th - Annual BioPartnering Europe - EARLY REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
BPE brings together decision-makers from leading biotechnology, pharmaceutical and investment companies from around the world for 3 days of focused networking, presentations, expert panels and one-to-one partnering. For more information and to register, click here.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Biotech crops' global value reaches $7.5 billion

MANILA, Philippines - The global market value of biotechnology crops reached $7.5 billion in 2008, up from $6.9 billion in 2007.

Last year’s $7.5 billion represented 14 percent Dr. Clive James, founder and current board chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

New York (USA)-based ISAAA is a not-for-profit organization with an international network of centers designed to contribute to the alleviation of hunger and poverty by sharing knowledge and crop biotechnology applications.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

TGen intern wins prestigious national Goldwater Scholarship

PHOENIX, Ariz. – April 02, 2009 – Joshua Niska, an intern at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), has won a $7,500 national Goldwater Scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence In Education Foundation.

Niska is among five TGen interns who have won this prestigious national award including his brother, Jared Niska. Goldwater Scholarships are considered the nation's highest undergraduate award in science, math and engineering.

Josh Niska, who plans to attend medical school, teach and pursue a career in medicine and cancer research, is majoring in Biochemistry with an emphasis on Medicinal Chemistry at Arizona State University.

"As a cancer researcher and oncologist, I hope to benefit cancer patients in three ways," Niska said. "By conducting research in the laboratory, I will have the opportunity to discover new treatments and improve the standards of care. In the clinic, I will be able to provide novel treatments as part of clinical trials. Through teaching at the university/medical school level, I will be able to train the next generation of researchers who will make further advances."

Niska, who has interned at TGen since 2005, most recently worked in the lab of Dr. Heather Cunliffe, Head of TGen's Breast & Ovarian Cancer Research Unit. He has focused on development of a new diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for invasive breast cancer.

"This is fabulous news for Josh," Dr. Cunliffe said. "He has won several prestigious national awards while at TGen that will weigh heavily in his acceptance into a leading medical school. It has been my privilege to train some of the bright young minds of tomorrow. There is a tremendous need for additional biomedical research emphasis in clinical training to impact a revolution in health care."

Niska also has won the American Association for Cancer Research Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Award for Undergraduate Students (2008 and 2009), American Association for the Advancement of Science Travel Grant, and the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department Alpha Chi Sigma Merit Award.

Niska started at TGen with a voluntary summer internship in 2005, continued his project during his senior year of high school, and was again a summer intern in 2006. In 2007 he was a summer intern under the Helios Scholars Program at TGen, and in 2008 was a summer intern as a TGen Undergraduate Research Fellow (TURF). He was awarded research fellowships in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the ASU School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research (SOLUR) program to continue his research training throughout the academic year.

"Josh's achievements are proof positive that internships are a vital component in fostering the next generation of scientists," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen's President and Research Director. "Appropriate mentorship, coupled with a great community partner such as the Helios Education Foundation, can produce a winning environment that allows students to gain valuable hands-on experience in the biomedical sciences."

In TGen's Breast & Ovarian Cancer Research Unit, Niska has gained experience in cell-based mechanistic perturbation technologies, molecular pathology and array-based gene expression profiling. His lab mentor has been Research Associate Amanda Willis. He also worked in a TGen lab where he received basic laboratory training and participated in a research project investigating mechanisms impacting brain tumor cell invasion.

Niska is one of 278 students nationwide awarded the Goldwater Scholarship for the 2009-10 academic year; one of six from Arizona, and one of three from Arizona State University.

Other recipients of Goldwater Scholarship who interned at TGen include:

-- Lara Cardy (2007-08) who worked in the Neurogenomics Division.

-- Eric Anderson (2006-07) who also works with Dr. Cunliffe.

-- Shannon Fortin (2005-06) who worked with Dr. Nhan Tran, Head of TGen’s Central Nervous System Tumor Research Lab. Fortin went on to win a Fulbright Scholarship.

-- Jared Niska (2003-04) who worked with Dr. Michael Berens, Director of TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division.

All attended ASU.

About the Goldwater Foundation
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence In Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency based in Springfield, Virginia, honoring the late Arizona Sen. Barry M. Goldwater. It is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering, and it is considered the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Since Congress established the program in 1986, the foundation has awarded 5,801 scholarships worth nearly $56 million. Trustees plan to award about 300 scholarships for the 2010–11 academic year.

About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a non-profit organization based in Phoenix, Ariz., dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit:

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Biotech Not Filling Property Void

Biotech and medical companies are supposed to be jewels of the Bay Area economy, but the economic malaise has tarnished the luster of those cutting edge industries, according to a new report.

Life science companies have scaled back their appetite to expand, or have even retrenched. A sluggish economy has combined with industry mergers such as Roche's proposed takeover of Genentech to produce a lot of uncertainties that loom over the industry.

The result: Vacancy rates have jumped for bioscience buildings, according to the report from Oakland-based market researcher Foresight Analytics LLC. These buildings are a commercial real estate subset of properties that have research, laboratory, clean rooms, offices or other facilities geared towards the biotech and medical devices industries.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Alan C. Nelson, PhD Appointed Director of Biodesign Institute

Pioneering Scientist Joins Biodesign Team

Arizona State University has appointed pioneering scientist and entrepreneur Alan C. Nelson, PhD, as director of the Biodesign Institute. Dr. Nelson’s medical innovations include a landmark technology introduced in 1995 that made a dramatic improvement in the detection of cervical cancer. He is currently President and CEO of VisionGate, Inc. in Washington State, which has developed a screening test for lung cancer.

Last year, the Biodesign Institute generated more than $60 million in external funding and disclosed 50 new inventions, and Dr. Nelson’s appointment will enable the Biodesign Institute to continue this positive trajectory. “These tight economic times make it more important than ever for us to preserve and diversify programs that have a proven ability to generate revenue and that ultimately will have a profound benefit to society,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Dr. Nelson succeeds Dr. George Poste, who, last summer, was tapped to head ASU’s new Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative. In addition to leading the Biodesign Institute, he will have an academic appointment as professor of bioengineering in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering

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