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2015 Outstanding Contributions to Bioscience in Virginia
 
John Schofield served as a career economic development executive in Prince William County, Virginia. He retired in 2009 as Research and Marketing Director for the Prince William County Department of Economic Development, having served the county for 27 years, the last 15 in economic development. John Scofield was a quiet and tireless leader who transformed the landscape of bioscience research and commercialization in Northern Virginia, and by example across the state.

He helped develop and build out the vision for the bioscience character of Innovation Park in Prince William County. Over his career, he was instrumental in helping projects/facilities like ATCC, Mediatech, Virginia Department of Forensic Science and the GMU/NIH National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Disease land in Prince William County. He was the ever hopeful, steady, encouraging force behind the drive spanning two decades to establish wet lab space in Northern Virginia, a dream finally realized recently with the opening of the Prince William Science Accelerator.

John was also a master translator, explaining to policy makers and administrators at the state and local level the pieces that needed to be put in place, the patience required and the role of innovation and entrepreneurship to create a biotech cluster. He was regarded as a quiet voice of reason and a bridge of cooperation, with the state and neighboring counties and economic development professionals across Northern Virginia. John was not only an economic development executive, he poured passion and energy into networking to develop the community, and into support for life science entrepreneurs for a long time. He was an early and passionate supporter of industry, of Virginia Bio and entrepreneurs in general.

While not a scientist, entrepreneur or investor, John transformed the industry in Northern Virginia, and indirectly across the state. In this way, John exemplifies the many economic development professionals in localities, regions and at the state level who work day in and day out over the years after to perpetuate a vision, build the infrastructure, and facilitate in every possible way the growth of the life sciences industry. Frequently they labor long and without apparent success, but over time their work bears fruit, in discoveries, companies, jobs, cures and treatments. In Northern Virginia and across Virginia the industry is growing, thriving and poised to do greater things, in part because it stands on a foundation built over many years by John Schofield and his colleagues.
   
Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) is a world-class research institute dedicated to the study of information biology.

Housed in state-of-the-art facilities on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus and National Capital Region Research Center in Arlington, the institute uses bioinformatics and analytics approaches to uncover the complex relationships involved in human health, well-being, and sustainability.

VBI develops genomic, proteomic and bioinformatics tools and databases to study genomes and diseases for the discovery of new vaccine, drug and diagnostic targets, as well as understanding how humans can better respond to crises via massive network modeling. Work at VBI involves collaboration in diverse disciplines such as: mathematics, computer science, biology, medicine, pathology, biochemistry, systems biology, statistics, economics, simulation science, and synthetic biology. Transdisciplinary research at the institute encompasses four scientific research divisions: Advanced Computing and Informatics Laboratories, the Cyberinfrastructure Division, the Biosystems Division, and the Medical Informatics and Systems Division which address our national priorities via support from government (NIH, DTRA, DOE, DOD, NSF, USDA and many others), non-profit foundations and corporations.

The institute was founded as the result of a state economic development white paper which asserted that biotechnology would be the next step for Virginia’s economy. Since bioinformatics seemed a natural progression for the life sciences at Virginia Tech, the university rose to the challenge and sought funding in 1999. With the help of $12.3 million from the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Committee, VBI opened its doors in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research center with only five employees in 2000. Now VBI employs over 250 experts in information biology with a research portfolio totaling $118 million in grants and contracts. Work has continued to be focused on bioinformatics, but has also embraced network dynamics and simulation science as the connections between biology and massive interacting systems have become increasingly clear.
 
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Nobel Prize winner Dr. Alfred (Al) Gilman is a distinguished Virginian scientist recognized tonight for his role in the discovery that G-proteins are a vital intermediary between the extracellular activation of receptors on the cell membrane and actions within the cell. This discovery, built on the early research of Martin Rodbell, demonstrated the proteins interacted with GTP to initiate signaling cascades within the cell. G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the site of action of many drugs used to treat a wide variety of human diseases.

 

Gilman began his research career at University of Virginia School of Medicine, and made many of his most important discoveries there, while a professor of pharmacology from 1971 – 1981. During this tenure he served as the primary editor of the widely known textbook of pharmacology, Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. Gilman later served as the Department of Pharmacology chair and dean at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and then Chief Scientific Officer of the $3 billion Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of the Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, among many others.

 

American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) is a globally utilized private non-profit biological resource center and research organization. The ATCC was established in 1925 when a committee of scientists recognized the need for a central collection of microorganisms that would serve scientists all over the world. Today, the ATCC houses a wide variety of collections of biological materials for research, including cell lines, molecular genomics tools, microorganisms and bioproducts.

 

While founded in Washington, D.C. current President and CEO Dr. Raymond Cypess oversaw the move of ATCC to its current state-of-the-art building in Manassas in 1998. ATCC products and services are used around the globe by researchers in academia and government, as well as by the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agricultural and diagnostics industries, food, beverage and cosmetics makers and reference and testing laboratories.
 

   The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) brings together the state’s major research universities in partnership with industry to support the research, development and commercialization of innovative technology in the Commonwealth. The center was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1984 as a private non-profit organization. For nearly 30 years, entrepreneurs and inventors in the biosciences have looked to CIT for support in the form of grants, investments, training and information.  

CIT has been home to many champions for the life sciences. Dr. Robert Schwartz (1943 – 2001), founding member of the Virginia Biotechnology Association, was the former biotechnology director for CIT and a nationally renowned scientist in the field of biometrics and DNA research. Virginia state bioscience champion Terry Woodworth was another early CIT leader. More recently, former CIT managing director Tom Wiethman founded the GAP BioLife Fund, which transitioned seed stage funding for bioscience companies from single angel investors into a structured and statewide investment fund. More than 12 new bioscience companies have resulted from the fund, attracting $13.25 million of private sector investment.

 Virginia was an early pioneer in popularizing forensic DNA analysis, now a cornerstone of law enforcement procedure around the globe. In 1989, the Virginia Bureau of Forensic Science Department of Consolidated Laboratory Services was the first to use DNA to help solve a crime and to offer those services to law enforcement agencies. Virginia was also the first state to create a DNA databank of convicted sex offenders and later, the state program became the pilot program for the National DNA Databank, whose first "cold hit” in 1994 resulted in a conviction. Today, the Department of Forensic Services, with more than 300 employees and a central laboratory in Richmond, provides comprehensive forensic laboratory services to 400-plus law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth. 

The Department of Consolidated Laboratory Sciences (DCLS), instrumental in DNA analysis since its formation in 1972, was the first consolidated state laboratory in the nation and still performs more than 6 million tests annually to help ensure the safety and health of Virginia’s citizens and environment.
 

   In November 1992, a varied group of individuals shared a common vision that the bioscience industry in Virginia required a single voice. Beginning with a series of Biotech and Breakfast meetings across the state, they gathered supporters and formed the Virginia Biotechnology Association, and won approval as the official state affiliate of the newly emerging Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), in Washington, D.C. The original Executive Committee was comprised of John Clarke, Brian Farmer, Anthony Hall, Robert Olson, Robert Schwartz, Terry Woodworth and the first President Hollister Lindley. Other founding directors were: Deborah Ayers, Hon. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr., Penny Caran, Stacy Gettier, Joseph Gregory, Bradley Hager, John St. John, David Jones, Jarel Kelsey and Skip Schuelke.

Their vision, devotion and entrepreneurism have made its mark. Virginia Bio has become the premier statewide non-profit trade association representing the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 200 member organizations have joined forces to make Virginia Bio an effective advocate for the biopharmaceutical and device industries before federal, state and local policymakers.

 Shenandoah Valley native Francis Collins currently serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health and has become one of the dominant global figures in bioscience and genetics in the last half century. Following undergraduate education at University of Virginia, and a career of revolutionary research at Yale University and the University of Michigan, Collins was appointed Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he led the Human Genome Project, which first sequenced the 3 billion base pairs in the human genome. He then initiated a wide range of research projects that have identified genetic risk factors for a significant number of diseases, including heart disease, cancer and mental illness. He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science.  

Collins’s innovations have become powerful components of modern molecular genetics. He led a team in the successful quest for the long-sought gene responsible for cystic fibrosis. Other major discoveries soon followed, including isolation of the genes for Huntington’s disease, neurofibromatosis, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, and the M4 type of adult acute leukemia.
 

   Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. (HDL) is a Richmond-based leader in health management that supplies a wide range of innovative analysis and care services to patients and clinicians. Founded in 2008, HDL currently employs 700 people and runs more than 150,000 sample analyses per day at its CAP-accredited laboratories in Virginia Biotechnology Research Park. Under the visionary leadership of founding President and CEO Tonya Mallory, Ernst & Young’s 2012 national Emerging Company Entrepreneur of the Year, HDL aims to prevent disease and promote health through advanced testing and lifestyle changes. The company offers the most comprehensive laboratory test menu of risk factors and biomarkers for cardiovascular, diabetic, and related diseases – including diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, heart failure and stroke, providing a basis for early diagnosis, effective treatment and improved outcomes.  

For organizations and employers HDL also provides complete health risk assessment administration, and chronic disease management programs consistent with nationally accepted protocols for diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, stress, obesity and smoking cessation. HDL’s founding team remains its top managers. The company has become a pillar of support to its community and the bioscience industry, and a leader in scientific collaboration.

 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Campus is a premier research facility based in Ashburn. The center opened in 2006 as the Institute’s sole research campus and has quickly become a leading biomedical research hub, where skilled scientists from diverse disciplines use emerging and innovative technologies to pursue some of biology’s greatest challenges. Current research goals at the campus include the identification of general principles guiding how information is processed by neuronal circuits, and the development of new imaging technologies and computational methods for image data analysis.  

At the Janelia Farm Research Campus, researchers work together in multidisciplinary teams to solve challenging biological problems that are difficult to address in existing research settings. This culture enhances academic freedom by allowing scientists to pursue long-term projects of high significance that could not necessarily fit within the confines of a standard grant proposal. The programs, people, design of the buildings, and infrastructure of the research campus are designed to stimulate multidisciplinary, team-driven biomedical research. HHMI is also an avid supporter of efforts to improve STEM education that inspire and aid in training young scientists.
 

   Dr. Howard Jones Jr., along with his wife, Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones, led early science-assisted fertility efforts in the United States and performed the nation’s first in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, in Norfolk. The Jones Institute, opened in 1978, was America’s first IVF clinic that has subsequently celebrated the births of 4,000 babies conceived through assisted reproductive technologies.  

At the Jones Institute, researchers have conducted groundbreaking research in the clinical applications of pituitary gonadotropins to induce the development of multiple follicles for use in intrauterine inseminations and in-vitro fertilization, the results of which are still in general use throughout the world. In addition to IVF, the Jones Institute pioneered many new techniques, such as embryo cryopreservation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, a major advance in the treatment male infertility. The institute has also developed a preimplantation genetic diagnosis program that allows couples who could potentially transmit severe or lethal genetic diseases to their offspring to achieve their goal of having a healthy child. Physicians, infertility specialists, endocrinologists, and embryologists who trained at the Jones Institute have gone on to manage or staff numerous successful infertility programs in the United States and abroad.

 Richmond-based Intelliject is a pharmaceutical company changing the lives of patients. Intelliject’s lead product, Auvi-Q™, is an epinephrine auto-injector - the height and width of a credit card and the thickness of a smart phone. It’s portable, safe and easy to use, and provides real-time voice instructions to talk the patient through each step of the injection process in what can be an incredibly stressful time. Through commercial partnership with Sanofi, the product was FDA approved in 2012. Soon after its launch in January 2013 the first documented life saved was reported. Intelliject’s unique business model empowers patients to play a significant role in creating a solution to their medical condition through Human Factors Engineering. The company begins with the patient/caregiver and the moment of use and works backwards, developing concepts followed by prototypes to develop a user inspired product.  

Intelliject was founded by twins Eric and Evan Edwards, who grew up with life-threatening allergies. They conceived of a credit card-sized epinephrine auto-injector in high school and shaped their university educations to pursue their dream. CEO Spencer Williamson has recruited an experienced management team from all over the world. Today, the company has a pipeline of products and over 130 patents across multiple therapeutic areas.
 

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