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A Word from Jeff Gallagher, CEO, Virginia Bio It’s my privilege to travel the state and meet hundreds of companies, research institutions, and individuals who are doing fascinating innovative work and making valuable contributions to our economy and to the health and well-being of people around the globe. Every month in this blog I’ll take a short look at an outstanding member of Virginia’s bioscience community, or update you on important information that impacts the community.

 

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Creating Environments to Connect and Innovate

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Members and Friends,

 

If you look at history, innovation doesn't come just from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect.

-Steven Johnson, Author, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

 

At Virginia Bio, our goal is to help you, our members succeed and our industry thrive, extending the benefits of life science to Virginia and the world. A strong component is creating environments and events where you can share your innovative projects and learn about others, connect with new opportunities and find solutions to your needs. Check these out.

March Luncheon-A Dynamic Duo Lights the Way to Cell Discovery-March 14, 2019

Introducing Renee Hart: President & Chief Business Officer & Sean Heart: Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer from Lumacyte. LumaCyte, is a rapidly growing advanced research and bioanalytics instrumentation company headquartered in Charlottesville, VA and we are thrilled to introduce this husband and wife team who are passionate about helping humankind better understand disease and accelerate therapies and cures.

 

AgBio 2019-Transforming the Agricultural Industry-March 27, 2019

This conference is right around the corner at The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, VA. If you’re interested in connecting with national and state leaders of innovation in Agriculture from Virginia and North Carolina, then this full-day conference is for you. These two states are uniting to bring innovative bioscience and technology to the farms! We’ll be providing a toolkit of essential tools and proactive solutions to increase efficiency and yields - creating healthier plant crops, animals and bringing full circle to the health of the human.  Register now.

 

Bio Health Capital Region Forum-April 8-9, 2019

We produce this forum with our colleagues in Maryland and DC to make the connections and create a sense of region that will strengthen and empower all our companies and researchers.  This Forum will highlight the accomplishments of today and chart our opportunities of tomorrow. This two-day event, hosted at Medimmune in Gaithersburg, MD, is invitation-only and free for executive level biotech leaders.

 

THRiVE 2019 Conference-Creating the Future of Bioscience in Virginia-May 2, 2019,  Richmond.

Registration is now open!  Every two years we gather the life science industry in Virginia to connect, celebrate, learn and drive the development of life science R&D and commercialization in Virginia. Connect with leaders of bioscience companies big and small, research universities, policy makers, innovative health care systems, patient groups, CROs and specialized professionals.  This is the big one.  Check out the website for the terrific agenda – great keynotes, a spotlight on medical device and med tech, innovations in treatment of addiction, applying Virginia’s huge data and AI resources to biomedical challenges, and more.  And note these special touches:

Virginia Bio Innovation Showcase 2019New this year! Learn about new technologies under development in  companies and universities across the state in this continuous video display and meet-up area, and uncover opportunities to develop, collaborate and invest. Submit your innovation on line – it’s easy.  Attendees will vote on the top innovations, we’ll announce winners on site, provide a cash prize and give further exposure in Virginia Bio’s marketing campaign.

 

Choose Your Own Adventure.  At your option, take a tour of some of the extraordinary bioscience organizations in  Richmond -  the McGuire VA Medical Center Innovation Center,  the Medicines for All Institute at VCU College of Engineering, the laboratories of the state’s Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services and Pfizer’s Center for Global Research and Development, Consumer HealthCare Products.

 

Award Nominations!  As is our tradition, during the Conference we will recognize two individuals, companies, organizations, events, discoveries or collaborations in the biosciences exemplifying the excellence, variety and dynamism of the Virginia biosciences community.   Please help us by submitting one or more nominations.  The two awardees will be selected by a panel comprised of past Board Chairs of Virginia Bio.

 

 

VA Drug Discovery RX at Hotel Roanoke-May 21-22, 2019

Every year the university researchers and companies working in drug discovery across Virginia meet to share discoveries and progress, form collaborations, learn new approaches and develop opportunities.   Join us in Roanoke this year!  

 

Best regards,

 

Jeff

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Recapping JPMorgan Healthcare Conference-Guest writer

Posted By Warren Martin, Wednesday, January 16, 2019

By now we are all back to our “day jobs” after a very successful week at JPM.   I wish to thank our Board of Directors, Jeff Gallagher, Cassandra Isley, Sherri Halloran and Caron Trumbo for their commitment to plan and host such a successful evening to showcase our VABIO life science community.  I also want to thank our sponsors of the reception.  We raised a record amount of funds to host our reception.  Our sponsors clearly recognize the importance of supporting an evening of conversation and collaboration.  Finally,  I also want to highlight what’s now becoming a tradition and challenge of getting to the reception in spite of San Francisco’s rain.   For those of us luckily enough to have arrived the day before or morning of….great planning.  For those of us that were delayed into SFO or from SFO to downtown, plan on rain next year and here’s part of what you missed:

  • We had over two hundred attendees representing, science, academia, sources of capital, serial VIP life science executives and SME professionals.
  • This group traveled from all over the country and internationally as well.
  • Every conversation included at a minimum, next stage trials, research, FDA and capital.
  • VABIO was extremely well represented by our “home grown” attendance and leading prominence in our industry.
  • We highlighted a number of our VABIO members for their 2018 achievements, milestones and successes.
  • There is an incredible wave of life science innovation and disruption occurring in our industry and within VABIO.
  • The room was filled with an excitement and enthusiasm that left everyone energized for the upcoming week at and around JPM.

Thank you again for your commitment to VABIO and our life science industry.  It’s now back to creating value and building meaningful businesses.

 

Best regards,

Warren Martin
Executive Transaction Advisor | Life Sciences & Technology, Falls River Group
Virginia Bio Board of Directors, Member

 

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Reflect on your mission and work this holiday season

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Dear Members and Friends,

Pause with me, will you, in the light of the holiday season, and let’s reflect on your mission and work.

Sharing gifts, as tokens of love and friendship and as acts of charitable commitment to the common good is a hallmark of the holidays. So, it’s hard not to acknowledge the extraordinary gift of $50 Million made by the Fralin family to Virginia Tech to accelerate the recruitment and retention of world leading researchers to undertake breakthrough basic and translational biomedical research. These resources for the newly and aptly named Fralin Biomedical Research Institute will complement the recent investment by the state and Virginia Tech in new facilities – facilities under construction which will double the size and technical capabilities of that prodigious young institution. And days later Virginia Tech Foundation and Carilion Clinic announced creation of a new $7 million VTC Seed Fund to provide the smaller investments at an earlier and riskier stage than the existing VTC Innovation Fund and other available sources of capital, which are needed for the commercialization ecosystem to thrive.

The twinkling of stars and wonders of the winter sky create more holiday ambiance. Last week you helped put one more star in the sky. NASA announced the successful launch of a rocket carrying supplies and scientific experiments to the Space Station. One experiment was created by the young Virginia company, Tympanogen. Hearing the news, memories of some of the transcendent moments of early flights to space came to mind - earthlings experiencing the first sight of an “Earthrise” over the moon’s horizon, astronauts so moved by their celestial point of view they recited “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All” one Christmas flight.

Just as sure as there will be love and kindness and wonder this Holiday Season, there will be illness and pain. Contagion takes no holiday. New medicines and devices help us gain ground, but lack of access to care vexes us still. And just as sure, many of you will skimp on your vacation, sneak into the lab, answer emails before the kids get up, set up appointments for JPM during TV timeouts, track legislation while shopping at the mall, and drive the order your customer desperately need to the shipper yourself to make sure it goes out. Because you’ve seen the Earthrise. Because you know people are hurting and you know people are waiting for the breakthroughs you hope to make. What you all do in your work, taking the mysteries of life science and the challenges and wonders of the human body, of animals and plants, and finding new ways to keep us healthy, heal our illnesses, feed us and help provide our energy and environmental needs – these are your daily gifts to your families and ours, and families across the world, and to future generations. You take wonders beyond our ken and work and work and work them toward reality, sometimes against obstacles few can really appreciate. Sometimes you succeed; frequently you fail and learn and go back in the next morning and begin again. You lasso the moon for us.

So, whether you are celebrating the winter holidays with joy and mirth or celebrating the holy days of your faith, we wish you and your loved ones respite, renewal and refreshment for your journey.

We feel so fortunate to know each of you, and to have a chance to help you.

Best wishes from Caron, Cassandra, Sherri and Jeff

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Strategic Partnerships for our Members!

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 15, 2018
Virginia Bio’s mission is to fuel the network of leaders that drive bioscience. With thoughtful consideration, we sought two strategic affiliate partnerships to bring value and ignite new opportunities for our members. FFAR, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and Veterans Health Administration Innovators Network at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. Our partners are your partners.

I would like to introduce our first affiliate partner FFAR, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, headquartered in Washington D.C. Their mission is to build partnerships supporting innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. Last year, FFAR awarded $45.8 million in grants for ground-breaking research. In addition to supporting science, FFAR fosters the next generation of researchers with New Innovator awards and the FFAR Fellows Program where graduate students receive training from industry mentors.

Agriculture generates one of the largest economic impacts for the state of Virginia producing over $70 billion of revenue annually and providing over 334,000 jobs. With being the Commonwealth’s largest private industry, our food and agriculture bio companies spearhead the cutting-edge science and research to excel such growth. We hope you leverage the FFAR partnership and add to your list of beneficial collaborators.

You will have the opportunity to meet the FFAR team along with their Executive Director Sally Rockey, at our Ag Bio 2019 Conference on March 27, 2019 at The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia. Virginia Bio is merging strengths with North Carolina. We will have Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture Betinna Ring delivering the keynote with the invited Commissioner Steve Troxler of North Carolina. Within this impressive 90,000 square feet facility we will bring forth the new generation of thought leaders in Ag Bio, new discoveries and innovations creating an impact, the drivers of solutions tackling the biggest challenges in Ag Bio, and beneficial industry partners and investors to further advancement. We hope to see you there.

Our second affiliate partner is the Veterans Health Administration Innovators Network at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia. In 2016, the McGuire VA Medical Center became one of 22 sites to join the national VA Center for Innovation as part of its Innovators Network. With the VACI’s investment program, new innovations in Veteran health care transform from concept to reality. What innovations can you bring to the table?

The Veterans Health Administration Innovators Network establishes partnerships with healthcare, academic, and tech organizations throughout the Richmond area and regions beyond. VA innovation has resulted in significant medical technology breakthroughs. It has been involved in the creation of the artificial pancreas, nicotine patch, first electronic health record, and cardiac pacemaker.

In its first year, McGuire received funding for 10 projects to develop innovative ideas in areas of software applications, process automation, 3-D printed products, and more. A combination of national funding and local training opportunities aim to foster innovation and improve the veteran experience.

Virginia Bio’s long-standing commitment to our member companies and to honor those who serve for our country – we bring together for collaboration and to display the talents under one roof at our largest state-wide biannual conference THRiVE: creating the future of bioscience held May 2, 2019 in Richmond. Mark your calendars now.

The valor, courage and sacrifice from our veterans and military personnel have touched all of us one way or another. 2018 actually marks the Centennial Commemoration of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. “To care for him who shall have born the battle”, a quote from Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Considered one of President Lincoln’s best speeches he affirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war. Together we bring science and innovation to heal their wounds and improve their lives.

November is a month of notable celebration to praise our veterans and for giving thanks during the Thanksgiving holiday. Virginia Bio is thankful and grateful to serve our members, our partners, our veterans and military personnel, and our Commonwealth.

Well wishes during this celebratory month.

Best Regards,

Cassandra Isley
Virginia Bio
Vice President, Strategy and Development

Tags:  #veterans #vamedicalcenter #g2gconsulting #biotech  affiliations  agriculture  partners 

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Recapping Women Building Bio

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dear members and friends,

 

The secret”, quipped the sage, ”is to gang up on the problem.  Not each other.”  

 

That’s a good working definition of collaboration.  It also captures a core value of Virginia Bio’s Women Building Bio initiative and the theme of the 3rd Annual Women Building Bio conference we held at Inova Center for Personalized Health two weeks ago.

 

We brought together leaders of state and regional collaborations to share their missions and operations, highlight issues and opportunities, and offer ways for others to get involved and succeed at the tough job of working together.  Let me share the four panels and five individual presenters (for brevity sake  the names and titles of these distinguished women and men are at the end of this letter). 

-        Leaders from the region’s clinical and translational research centers, including two NCATS CTSA hubs, shared their work. These centers, by definition, act as hubs for a wide array of stakeholders(clinicians, researchers, academic health centers, industry, patient groups and community groups) to get more cures to more patients faster.  And they look to collaborate with one another across the state and region as well.  

 

-        The second panel was women leading commercialization and tech transfer efforts at major research institutions.  They discussed new approaches to improve the impact of their research on society, ways that outside partners can effectively engage, and even visionary ways they are looking to work together with one another.

    

-        One of the most prominent public-private biomedical collaborations in the state is the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute, featured on the third panel.  Leaders from three founding institutions – Inova, UVA and GMU, illuminated its mission, provided examples of early work and success, and shared their aspiration to invite and engage other Virginia research universities, health care systems and industry into shared work. 

 

-        The final panel brought together national thought leaders living and working in Virginia and the region to focus on Innovating in Disruption and Disruptive Innovation.  They shared insights and approaches to help individuals, firms and collaborations identify and navigate the enormous changes we all face.  

 

-        In addition to panels the program featured lightning presentations by four women in the middle of breakthroughs in biomedical research and commercialization, offering attendees a close look and instant introduction to fresh opportunities for connections and collaborations. 

 

-        Finally, our keynote hailed from a global leading healthcare company and shared the professional development message he shares with women and men throughout that company – the importance of building a personal brand based on a foundation of soft skills to power a career, raise up the next generation, and help your team achieve its goals.  

 

Over its first 3 years the Women Building Bio conference has presented nearly 75 outstanding women leading the field and the industry in Virginia, DC and MD, and it brought many hundreds of attendees in touch with these leaders and one another.  We do this to help introduce, inspire and weave new networks of connectedness, because we believe these will provide the foundation for novel solutions to intractable problems and identification of previously unimaginable opportunities. 

Let’s go find some important problems to gang up on!

 

Watch in the weeks ahead for new ways the Women Building Bio initiative will continue year-round.  

 

Best,

 

Jeff Gallagher

 

 

Presenters at the 3rd Annual Women Building Bio conference:

Clinical and Translational Research Centers

Kristen Williams, Scientific Director, Participant & Clinical Interactions, Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National Health System

F. Gerard Moeller, Director, Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research at VCU and Associate Vice President for Clinical Research at VCU

Karen Johnston, Professor and Chair of Neurology and Public Health Sciences, Associate VP for Clinical & Translational Research and Director of Translational Health Research Institute (THRIV), UVA.

 

Tech transfer and commercialization from research institutions

Sharon Kreuger, Director, Innovation, Grants and Relationships, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Kolaleh Eskandanian, Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer, Children’s National Health System

Ivelina Metcheva, Executive Director, VCU Innovation Gateway

Brandy Salmon, Associate Vice President for Innovation and Partnerships, Virginia Tech.

 

GGBRI

Deborah Crawford, Vice President Research, George Mason University

Laurence Bray, Associate Professor, Bioengineering, George Mason University

John Moynihan, Chief Medical Officer and Chair of the Department of Surgery, Inova Fairfax Hospital

Richard Shannon, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Virginia.

 

Innovating in Disruption and Disruptive Innovation

Margaret Anderson, Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting

Tanisha Carino, Ph.D., Executive Director, FasterCures, Washington, DC

Meghana Chalasani, Operations Research Analyst, Decision Support and Analysis Team (DSAT), Office of Strategic Programs/Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER)

Cynthia Rice, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy, JDRF

 

Breakthroughs

Sharon Ramey, Research Professor and Distinguished Research Scholar, Virginia Tech Carillion Research Institute

Jessica Foley, Chief Science Officer, Focused Ultrasound Foundation

Tracey Vetterick, Head of Oncology Early Portfolio Strategy, AstraZeneca

Alessandra Luchini, Associate Professor, College of Science, George Mason University.

 

Keynote

Gerry Gribbon, Field Director, Healthcare Policy and Advocacy for East Coast, Johnson & Johnson and Regional Business Director, Janssen Inc.  

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Breakthroughs to cures is not rocket science

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2018

Dear Members and friends,

“Taking breakthroughs to cures is not rocket science”, I said. “It’s immensely harder.”

At the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network 2018 Virginia Cancer Research Breakfast last week I had the pleasure of learning about outstanding research into new cures across Virginia, and I had the honor of making remarks on behalf the people who commercialize these life-saving innovations.

Four outstanding researchers spoke about their exciting work and the organizations which enable it: Dr. Donald “Skip” Trump, CEO and Executive Director of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, the Breakfast’s presenting sponsor; Dr. Steven Grossman, Deputy Director of VCU Massey Cancer Center; Dr. Kimberly Dunsmore, Senior Vice President and Chair of Pediatrics, Carilion Clinic; and, Dr. Sanchita Bhatnagar, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biogenetics, University of Virginia. Wow.

What do you say after that group? Ideally, it’s something a listener can’t just get from asking Alexa. So, I started with the words above, and well here’s the rest. Alexa are you listening?

The complexity, breadth, depth and acceleration of science involved in oncology is staggering - protein pathways which make NYC subway maps seem intelligible by comparison and give rise to whispers about the “intelligence of cancer”, genomics, epigenetics, the exquisite immune system. Compare that to launching a rigid inanimate space ship at some planet-size rock obeying Newtonian laws of motion … sheesh.

But as extraordinary as the science challenge is, the rest is not trivial. I’d argue the system required to take research breakthroughs to real products for real patients with safety, efficacy and commercial viability is every bit as complex, challenging and ever-changing.

One might even think it’s impossible – if it weren’t for the extraordinary progress that’s actually been made! The overall cancer death rate in the United States fell by 25% from 1990 to 2014. In the last 5 years, in oncology alone over 70 new therapeutic drugs were approved in the US. Today, there are over 1,500 clinical trials underway in the US in immune-oncology alone.

Still, facing the enormity of the challenge it is easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. No one person, company or institute can do it alone. How do you master the knowledge and gain the experience to simultaneously solve for: choosing the indication, defining and finding the patient population, modeling and achieving the pricing, market access and reimbursement to attract the capital, competing or combining with other therapies, etc.

That’s why Virginia Bio exists - to connect innovators and commercializers to the people, ideas and resources they need to succeed in their life-saving mission.

A patient who is diagnosed with cancer needs a “team” to help them run the course – clinicians, yes, plus family, friends, co-workers, survivors. They’ll provide real help and never let the patient feel alone.

Similarly, the women and men translating and developing the discoveries of basic research into reality need a team, too. A team that includes quality control specialists, bankers, GMP manufacturers, repair technicians, regulatory specialists, patent attorneys, and on and on.

And the team is not complete without patients. Frequently when I visit a drug development company or CRO I see they’ve put photos of patients they serve throughout their offices and on their websites. I see it at the insurers, law firms and accountants who love this industry, too. It helps us focus, connect with our passion and renew our resolve.

Which leads me to my message. For those who are battling cancer, for those of you whose moms and dads, sisters and brothers, children, friends, colleagues are battling cancer …. You are not alone. Your team includes millions of passionate, dedicated, skilled, educated, unstoppable, insightful men and women in industry across Virginia, the nation and world working around the clock, and making progress day by day.

Godspeed to researchers and commercializers everywhere, and thanks to Brian Donahue, Director of Government Relations at ACSCAN for the invitation, and the opportunity to learn and reflect.

Best Regards,

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Capital, Talent, & Technology

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 23, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

Capital, talent and technology are essential for your life science company to succeed, and for the state industry to thrive. Let’s take a quick look at access to capital - recent developments and help for you in the months ahead.

The last several months reflect a good streak of companies landing capital from a wide range of sources. To mention just a few … Adial Pharmaceuticals closed its IPO several weeks ago with gross proceeds in excess of $7M; Polymer Solutions was acquired by a leading international strategic SGS; and Cadence was acquired by a leading private equity firm providing capital to fuel continued impressive growth. Among others Bonumose, Caretaker Medical, Ceres Nanosciences, First String Research, Immunarray/BrainBox Solutions and Nutriati closed significant private investment rounds this year.

University of Virginia’s Licensing and Ventures Seed Fund announced a new investment in a medical device spinout, 510 Kardiac. Earlier this year Inova launched a new Translational Research Funding Program. The Virginia Catalyst (VBHRC) recently announced a $2.7M round of grants awarded and has opened the next (9th) round for applications. CRCF recently made a new round of awards including many life science companies. SBIRs were awarded to multiple applicants around the state. Thanks again to CIT for tirelessly traversing the state to teach best practices for successful SBIR applicants.

Every month Virginia Bio makes available to members via our website a fresh, comprehensive list of scores of nondilutive federal funding for life sciences and medicine from all areas of the federal government, prepared by our consultant G2G. Under our agreement, G2G also offers our members a free first hour consultation. For a good number of companies nondilutive federal funding has been a key strategy and essential for the journey to mature capitalization. If you don’t access these regularly but want to, contact Caron Trumbo at Virginia Bio to get started.

Southeast Bio annually brings together investors who are actually making investments in life science companies from Virginia to Florida in its flagship conference, this year in Atlanta on November 13-14. https://www.southeastbio.org/ The deadline for companies to apply on line to be selected as presenters, either on the Early Stage or Main Stage, is very close - August 28. Virginia Bio is bringing David Day, Executive Director of SEBio, to Virginia on September 19 for a networking reception from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the iLAB in Charlottesville. David is one of the great connectors in the Southeast. Previously for many years he served as Assistant Vice President for Technology, Transfer and Director, Office of Technology Licensing for the University of Florida (UF) leading their commercialization efforts and gaining recognition as one of the top five programs in the nation. By the way, SEBio annually awards honors healthcare and life sciences organizations in the Southeast US whose achievements are bringing the region into focus as a hub of medical and technological innovation, and nominations are open until noon September 17.

Finally, it’s not too early to make your plans for JPMorgan Healthcare Conference week in San Francisco in early January 2019. Once again we’ll coordinate the Virginia Reception at the prestigious Velvet Room of the Clift Hotel on Sunday evening, January 6, at 5:00 – 7:00 pm. We’ve also arranged again for use of the popular suite of private and semiprivate meeting rooms at the Clift which are available to our members and can be reserved and guaranteed on our website in advance. For companies in SF for the JPM Phenomenon, the reception and meeting rooms provide great venues to meet new contacts and to invite colleagues. If you’d like to help move this ahead, let us know and we’ll hook you up with Warren Martin, with global M&A advisors Falls River Group, who again will lead the committee making this happen.

 

Best Regards,

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Recap of Virginia’s first Life Sciences Workforce Summit-Guest Writer

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Dear Virginia BIO members,

I hope your summer is off to a great start! Jeff Gallagher and I had the privilege of hosting Virginia’s first Life Sciences Workforce Summit in Richmond on June 21. The event was held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and was attended by about 125 representatives from academia, business and economic development organizations. Nearly every university, four-year college and community college in the Commonwealth attended the meeting, as well as all of the major life science businesses and several smaller ones.

The Summit is part of a four-pronged initiative to ensure that our life science companies will have sufficient and appropriately trained talent to help our companies succeed and ultimately help Virginia become a leading State in life science business. The components of our overall Workforce initiative include:

• Live video interviews of young science professionals made available to students at all universities and community colleges across the Commonwealth

• A robust internship program that consolidates information about internships offered by all of our member companies and posted on the Virginia BIO website along with contact information

• A survey of science talent needs of our life science businesses

• An annual Summit that brings educators, businesses and economic development professionals together to discuss alignment of educational programs and business needs for life science talent.

The Virginia Life Science Workforce initiative is conceived and led by Virginia BIO and the Virginia BIO Foundation. We can’t wait for our politicians to recognize our needs, nor can we simply hope that academic institutions will know what training to provide their students to fulfill the talent needs of our companies.

The Summit was structured with a number of moderated panels that addressed business needs for talent and the gaps we see; young professionals talked about their experiences entering the work force and how well they feel they were prepared; educators discussed their programs and how they are aware of business needs; and a mix of the above talked about various efforts to provide work-related experiences to students to better prepare them for the workplace. The audience was quite active with questions and suggestions. We also heard from some fantastic young people talk about how their educational and internship experiences helped prepare them for full-time employment.

Across the board, feedback was very positive, and the Summit helped us engage several member companies in new ways to bring them closer to the Virginia BIO family. The main takeaways from the Summit included:

• The huge need for meaningful internships and work-study programs for student to obtain first-hand experience in the workplace

• A significant need for soft skills training to help students understand what is expected and how to act in the workplace

• An inventory of higher ed programs and contacts so that employers will know where to look for talent

• An inventory of skills that life science businesses would like to see in new graduates

In the near future, we will issue a white paper detailing the results of the Summit. In addition, we are launching several working groups to address some of the needs described above. We will report on our progress as we go. The attendees were unanimous in their desire to hold a similar summit next year.

I truly hope you realize the important role that Virginia BIO plays in serving the needs of our member companies. As a member of the Virginia BIO board and its Executive Committee, I am struck by the wide range of services that Virginia BIO provides, including legislative lobbying, capital formation, discounted supplies and services, informal and formal networking among our members, Women in BIO, workforce, bioSTEM programs, business/university engagement, promotion of our State as an outstanding location for businesses and talent, and so on. These activities are all led by a small, dedicated team at Virginia BIO, including Caron Trumbo, Sherri Halloran, Cassandra Isley and Jeff, along with active engagement of the Virginia BIO board.

Jeff and I look forward to keeping you informed about progress of the Life Science Workforce Initiative. If you’d like to become involved, please let us know!

Sincerely,


Jim Powers
Chairman, Virginia BIO Foundation
Chairman and CEO, HemoShear Therapeutiucs

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Enhancing the Ecosystem

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

The last few weeks brought some good news and striking illustrations of progress for individual researchers and companies, and our statewide ecosystem. I wanted to make sure you saw them.

CIT announced
a host of CRCF awards for Commercialization, Matching and SBIR/STTR Matching programs, including many in the biomedical space. The awards reflected good activity from all corners of the state and across our universities and illustrate the key role CIT plays in nurturing the ecosystem. 

Earlier this week dozens of posters on issues and opportunities in drug discovery were presented by companies and university researchers as part of the two-day Virginia Drug DiscoveryRx Symposium at GMU’s Founders Hall, Arlington. This is the third year in a row VaDDC has produced a statewide conference bringing together academic and industry R&D around drug discovery (2016 focusing on the Brain and 2017 focusing on Cancer). Plans are already underway for next year. One topic was the rise of collaborative mechanisms and funders within academia and public science funding agencies, and across universities and industries nationally and in Virginia.

A great piece of news for the state was the NCATS (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences) renewal of the five-year Clinical and Translation Science Award to VCU. For VCU and the other 50 NCATS-funded CTSAs, innovation and collaboration outside the host institution, as well as within host institution, are keys to success. This and other CTSAs provide important opportunities academic researchers and companies to advance their innovations.

Finally, the Virginia Catalyst (VBHRC) continues executing as well as strategizing. This month it announced a new and exciting collaborative award under its original grant program and made steady progress toward its goal of building shared infrastructure of collaborative resources and research infrastructure tools statewide for university and industry. Plus, through a lot of grass roots effort the Virginia Catalyst has organized dozens of voluntary interest groups of researchers around special topic areas within neuroscience. These groups are having initial conference calls and meetings to share their work and interests with one another, with an eye to identifying new opportunities for collaboration, leading to enhanced capabilities and greater funding.

Best regards,

Jeff

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build a bigger, better, more impactful life science industry in Virginia

Posted By Caron Trumbo, Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

Here are updates on action steps we are taking on our long-term strategies to create a stronger foundation on which to build a bigger, better, more impactful life science industry in Virginia.


Talent - the Virginia Life Science Workforce Initiative

We are on track for our statewide June 21, Virginia Life Science Workforce Summit, Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The program brings together leaders from life science employers and higher ed across the state to focus with attendees on issues that will move us forward. Please attend, or make sure someone from your company or school does. You’ll make copious contacts, accelerate your own talent acquisition efforts, and help us build a better system for the future. We’ll issue a “white paper” with proceedings, findings and recommendations after the conference. Register now!

The pilot program for the Live Video Interview series to help higher ed students concluded successfully this Spring, and we’ve tweaked it with collaborators at ODU, W&M and JMU and are planning it out fully for the next academic year– 16 episodes, one every other week. The series will be interviews of individuals across the state and across varied sectors of the “life science industry” made available to every higher ed student anywhere in Virginia. The purpose is to help them become familiar with the range of careers life science education prepares them for and become aware of opportunities across Virginia. Take a look at one of the 3 minute trailers on one of the 30-minute interviews in the pilot program.

The Capstone MPA team from VCU’s Wilder School of Public Policy delivered its final report on a snapshot and trends in Virginia Life Science workforce. We’ll share findings and recommendations at the Summit.

We’ll also use the Summit to dig into best practices on experiential learning and hone our internship strategy, learn models around the state and innovative models we may adopt. Currently 50 employers are listed on our website internship page as accepting internship applications, with name and contact for each, but we’d love to add more. Please let us know if yours or another organization should be added to the list and who the contact is.

Research / technology

One of the insights driving all that we do is the realization of the great work being done in Virginia in our field but in scattered locales and organizations, and the benefit of better awareness, communications and networks of relationships. On June 25-26 we are cohosting with the Virginia Drug Discovery Consortium the Virginia Drug DiscoveryRx: A symposium on Academic-Industrial Partnerships in Drug Discovery at GMU’s Founders Hall in Arlington, VA. For the agenda and to register see:  http://vaddc.org I admire the vision and hard work of the university researchers who run VaDDC to accelerate research in the Commonwealth. The agenda includes successful entrepreneurs who have translated basic research into biotech companies, university researchers who have promising drug candidates in development, new technologies to assist drug development, and industry and government leaders.

I am spending time serving on the Implementation Advisory Team for VRIC (Virginia Research Investment Fund) to explore how to implement changes to VRIC’s activities and programs recommended in the Report “Assessment of Virginia’s Research Assets: Strategic Directions to Advance Innovation-Led Growth and High-Quality Job Creation across the Commonwealth” by TEConomy Partners. The Report lays out four Strategic Growth Opportunities for Virginia (Cyber and Cyber-Physical Security; Integrated Networking, Communications, and Data Analytics; System of Systems (SoSE) Engineering Solutions; and Life Sciences) and recommends the state’s efforts focus on these areas. Our subcommittee is considering Strategy One, namely:

“Strategy One: Pursue the strategic growth opportunities through public-private collaborations in advancing translational research capacities.
Baseline Action for VRIC to Consider

Baseline Action 1: Establish a competitive translational research project fund involving industry and university partners in strategic growth opportunities
Enhanced Action 1 for the Commonwealth to Consider: Support the formation and sustainment of industry-led statewide translational research centers in each of the strategic growth opportunity areas

Baseline Action 2: Raise Virginia’s competitiveness to pursue major federal research center awards to multi-university, multi-industry collaborations through planning, program coordination, and outreach grants and offering matching state funds for facility and equipment costs”

I welcome you to contact me and share your thoughts in the coming weeks on this topic, and we will be reaching out to some of you to share your experiences and ideas.

Best Wishes,

 


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