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A word from John Newby, CEO, Virginia Bio: This blog provides an update on upcoming events and important information that impacts our community, and spotlights industry leaders from state-of-the-art companies and research institutions driving the future of bioscience around the state, our region and our world.


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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: 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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Fresh Look

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dear Member and Friends,

Recently, we went live with our new website!

Please take a moment to look.

Let us know ways to make it even better.

Sherri Halloran led the efforts internally for well over a year and we owe her great thanks for masterfully keeping us focused us on the big picture while marshaling 1,000 details. Caron Trumbo and Cassandra Isley spent countless hours on it, and we had great collaborator in our outside web design firm.

We were shooting for a fresh look - to reflect the vitality of the industry, the passion of our members, the richness of opportunities, the mission that binds us together and the vision that pulls us ahead.

We wanted to provide quicker access to the actions and information users most go to.

And we sought to create a better tool to help us do the job you’ve entrusted to us:

Provide opportunities to you to make significant connections, to learn and to participate in building a stronger industry together.

Advocate for the industry, for our members, for our patients and customers;
Gather, shape and tell the story of life sciences in Virginia;

Lead industry-wide or state-wide efforts that fill a critical gap or enable us to grab a significant opportunity.

All of this to help you succeed in serving the people who depend upon you for health, cures, fuel and food.

Let us know what you think, and how we can make this critical communication tool even better.

Best regards,

Jeff Gallagher

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Practically Anything

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 22, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Members and Friends,

Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision merely passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.
- Joel A. Barker, futurist.

At Virginia Bio, we don’t want to merely dream, or just pass time. Like you, we want to change the world.

And so, as you have probably noticed, we will do practically anything to help Virginia Bio members succeed and our industry thrive, to bring the benefits of life science to the people of Virginia and the world.

From blocking and tackling to sketching a vision of an extraordinary future and instigating a sense of urgency to move towards it - we do it. That’s the connection between the following two wildly different observations I want to share, drawn from items recently capturing our attention and demanding our time.

Observation 1 - Most of you are missing the opportunity to save a lot of money in the normal course of business because you’re not using our BioPurchasing program.
We are proud members of one of the nation’s best discount purchasing programs, continuously negotiated exclusively for members of the many state bio organizations like ours by big BIO. Big discounts - often north of 50%, are available on practically anything your company purchases. The amount of savings enjoyed by our members who participate in the program varies from hundreds or a few thousand dollars per year for a startup, to hundreds of thousands of dollars to scaleups and mature companies. The point is whatever your size or volume, savings will be significant to you. VWR, known widely as the world’s largest supplier of lab supplies and equipment, leads a list of 14 different vendors in the program, also including UPS, Office Depot, Air Gas and Chubb, and you get their top discounts. It’s easy to use: it takes 2 minutes to sign up, vendor reps reach out to you where you are, savings start on the first purchase. Call or email Cassandra Isley or Sherri Halloran here to get going and start saving money. Your savings can accelerate your R&D, reward your people, and extend your runway.

Observation 2 - We stand at the threshold of a historic opportunity for state public policy to help our companies and realize the enormous potential of the industry.
Listening to and watching policymakers, implementers and influencers since the Fall election and over the course of the General Assembly, I see a new bedrock shared belief that decisive and big-scaled action must be taken promptly to begin to reverse the declining economic performance of the state, that it must focus on innovation industries, and that practically anything will be considered. I think that there’s a consensus that the new tools enacted and considered bold just two years ago (GoVirginia, VRIC and the Major R&D Tax Credit), are good and will be improved, but even so they will be insufficient to fix the fundamental structural economic problem we face today. It seems the very scale by which Virginia traditionally has measured significance in economic development policies is being questioned and found to be insufficient to meet today’s challenge.

We believe that the life science industry has enormous upside potential in Virginia, in part because of the accelerating convergence of life science, biomedicine, health and health care with data, IT, telecom, informatics and AI – all competitive strengths of Virginia. Virginia’s support of this industry is a fraction of what states whose industries are growing (including our immediate neighbors north and south) are doing to nurture and accelerate the industry. In this fast-moving and globally competitive environment, Virginia will never realize the enormous potential without a very different approach. We are eager to work with the new Administration and the General Assembly and the implementing state agencies – to help envision and to block and tackle, in order to change the trajectory of the R&D, the companies and this great industry in Virginia.

So, sign up for BioPurchasing: don’t leave money on the table! Then help us engage with policymakers and stakeholders in the months and years ahead. Let’s change the world.

Best regards,

Tags:  #biotech #biopurchasing #biobusinesssolutions #pub 

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Talent is seeking opportunity …. and opportunity is seeking talent

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Members and Friends,


Virginia Bio and the Virginia Bio Foundation have launched a long term strategic workforce initiative.  


I can’t describe the need for this any better than the Virginia Chamber did in its Blueprint 2025:

“The availability of a well- trained and educated workforce remains the top concern for Virginia’s business community, and with good reason. Companies need people with the right skills to help them grow, thrive, and prosper.…  Virginia can build its supply of talent through a deliberate focus on creating closer connections to the business community and jobs throughout its education system.  These connection points include work-based learning experiences, the development of career exploration tools, and business involvement in the design of education and training programs.” 


In some fields, like IT, cyber and advanced manufacturing, the state has and continues to invest time and money to understand the workforce supply and demand and implement aggressive programs to create alignment and address gaps.    But no such effort has been made for the life sciences.  Little data.  No coordination.


But talent is seeking opportunity …. and opportunity is seeking talent every day.


So, let’s get to work.


Our goal is to help bridge the communications and relationships gap between industry and academia, to help align needs and strengths and to identify gaps.  This will strengthen the pipeline of talent for the growing and ever-changing life science industry in the Commonwealth and equip the next generation of Virginians with the vision, knowledge and skills they need to launch meaningful and productive careers so that they can play their part in the great challenge before us to heal, feed, fuel and care for the world.


The Virginia Life Science Workforce Initiative is launching with four (4) components: 


• “Live Connect” will be a comprehensive series of live video interviews with industry professional designed for bioSTEM students in Higher Ed across Virginia to “meet and interact” virtually in real time with people from a variety of life science employers in a variety of roles.  We are using technology to take a standard visit to campus and make it scalable, extending the reach to any employer and any student anywhere in the state.  The goal is to inform students about career paths, to learn about employment opportunities and employers, and training skills and to make connections. We are doing a pilot this spring with William & Mary, Christopher Newport and James Madison Universities, and shooting for a full statewide launch Sept 2018).


  Internships.   We facilitate students matching with employers with internship programs with real-world applications and work experience.  We help students will gain experiential learning while industry employers gain working knowledge of potential employees.    


  Virginia Life Science Workforce Trends Reports.  We have sent out an on-line survey and over the next month we will be conducting phone interviews with life science employers statewide to gain insights into current needs for talent and key trends.  We’re delighted that a Master’s in Public Administration Capstone Team at VCU’s Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs is helping us with this time-intensive task and collecting the incomplete data that does exist on the life science workforce and assessing the gaps.  We’re conducting the trends reporting in conjunction with similar efforts by sister BIO organizations nationwide, an analysis of job postings data in the state, and a review of labor statistics and SCHEV data to compile both national and Virginia information.  


  Life Science Workforce Summit.   On Thursday, June 21 in Richmond we will convene life science employers from across the state, academic and career administrators from all of Virginia’s higher education institutions that train and educate bioSTEM students, economic development professionals, HR and staffing experts and policymakers.  The goal is to inform, inspire, share best practices, create relationships and spark innovative partnerships, to improve how we develop and find talent to meet the dynamic needs of employers and provide our young people extraordinary careers making the most of their life sciences education.  To our knowledge, this will be the first time this has been done. Click here to sign up to learn more!


Our efforts have been led by the Chairman of the Board of our Foundation, Jim Powers, and by an esteemed volunteer board of advisors representing different sectors, communities and regions.

Cliff Fleet, President, BioMech,

Ia Gomez, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Science and Applied Technologies Division

Manassas Campus Manassas Campus, Northern Virginia Community College

Megan Healy, Ph.D., Chief Workforce Development Advisor, Office of Governor Ralph Northam

Mark Herzog, Vice President Corporate Affairs, kaleo, Inc.

Hal Irvin, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Health Sciences & Technology Outreach, Virginia Tech Carilion

Kathleen Powell, Associate Vice President for Career Development, William & Mary

Denise Toney, PH.D., Director, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, Commonwealth of Virginia


If you are enthusiastic about lending a hand, please let us know. 


Best regards,

Jeff Gallagher, CEO

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Lawmaking is in bloom in Richmond

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 25, 2018
Updated: Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

Let’s talk Public Policy.


The Virginia General Assembly has convened, and lawmaking is in bloom in Richmond.  The GA has a different balance and feel, after the startling results of the November election.  At this early point things feel more fluid, and we’ve not been shelled by volleys of polarizing bills from either side.   In one of the areas Virginia Bio prioritizes - economic development and the innovation and entrepreneurship agenda, there’s a sense of steadiness.  VEDP reform has rebuilt the confidence of policymakers, and there are many bills to strengthen that organization.  There appears to be agreement that the Governor’s consolidation of functions and organizations under the Secretary of Commerce and Trade is a wise direction.  Perhaps the parties are appraising their opponents.  Perhaps we are trying to lead the nation to a less confrontational public politics and policy.

In our close watch and work at the GA we are helped greatly by Scott Johnson and the team at First Choice Consulting.  We also draw on the expertise of public policy pros among our members, and the public policy staffs at our ally organizations BIO, PhRMA, AdvaMed, MDMA and We Work for Health.

Now for some specifics.  Last Friday was the deadline for filing new bills.  We’ve combed the 3,000+ bills introduced in House and Senate, and sifted to the ones we may track.  On our website you’ll find a table of those and our position to date.  Last week was the deadline for budget amendments, and relevant ones also are included on the table.

This Friday, January 25 at 10:30 am, we’ll have a webinar/open call on these bills and issues, and you are all welcome to join and provide your feedback.  Scott Johnson and I will lead the discussion, and we’ll look to hear from our members your opinions and priorities.

So far, on the priorities we track year to year, this seems like a level-flight session. 

Tax credits have been continued in Governor’s introduced budget at as-is levels, and we’ve seen no budget amendments nor legislation, introduced to reduce or impair them.  This includes the refundable R&D Tax credit; the (new) major R&D tax credit; and the Angel investor tax credit.  Similarly, funding for the Catalyst (Virginia Bioscience Health Research Corporation) was included in the Governor’s introduced budget at $3.75M/yr. for both years, and no budget amendments nor bills have been introduced to reduce that unique and effective grant program.  Nor is there any change to the authority or funding for the GGBRI (Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute).    

The wild card in all funding decisions, however, is the final determination, to be made late in the Session, of the amount of revenue in the budget. Under state law  this strictly limits the expenditures.  The Governor’s introduced budget includes significant revenue from Medicaid expansion, though it is uncertain that will become law. Moreover, this year projections of revenue based on tax receipts are especially difficult to make because of the significant recent changes in the federal tax law.

The two major new economic development programs created together two years ago, VRIC and GoVirginia, have developed cautiously and retain solid support of the Administration and in the General Assembly.  VRIC (Virginia Research Investment Committee) funding is continued at same level, and without significant legislative change, with a mission of accelerating and commercializing research at our research universities.  VRIC engaged outside consultants who just delivered a strategic report which suggested sharp changes in the state’s strategy, so look for changes in program priorities and operations to be considered, decided and implemented this Spring.  GoVirginia funding remains steady and attention is being directed at how to refine and improve the program, which aims to incentivize local economic development systems to work collaboratively with one another and industry to recruit and grow companies and high paying jobs.  

There have been a number of bills introduced to regulate in miscellaneous ways our industry.  These are usually unpredictable and unique, and we meet them as they come.  Bills we are tracking and speaking to at the GA now include (among many others) proposals:  to create a state “right to repair” digital electronic equipment, including medical devices; to legislate state level drug pricing data disclosure; to extend the statute of limitations on personal injury claims arising from drugs, and imposing state level cold chain requirements for prescribed drugs.   On our website we keep an updated table of these and other bills we are tracking, sponsors, issues, our position and status in the General Assembly, so that you can stay as informed as you like.


In Washington, a two-year extension of the suspension of the medical device tax was included in the tax package that ended the government shutdown earlier this week.  This is great news for our medical device members, and we were happy to add our voice to many hundreds from across the country to remind our Congressional Representatives of the horrible impact of the tax on US innovation and jobs.

For those of you interested in helping up present the case of the industry to our Congressional delegation and their staffs, there will be two opportunities in the coming months, when like minded people from across the US fly in and a coordinated day of lobbying.  We and our national ally organizations set up the meetings and provide briefings.   Visit our website for how to join me and others from around Virginia and the US on these important days:

                  AdvaMed Fly-In, February 27-28, for the medical device portion of our industry

                  BIO Fly-In, April 17-18, centered on the biological and pharmaceutical part of the industry, but extending to innovation and entrepreneurship


Please give me a call with any questions, or if you would like to become more involved


Best Regards,

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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,


Let’s pause to appreciate the hard and good work of members of our community across the state last year by taking a quick look at some 2017 headlines.  We celebrate the headlines, but appreciate the extraordinarily difficult, demanding, dedicated, important work that goes on every day in countless places to make such headlines possible.  Let’s share in the joy of the accomplishments of the people behind these headlines, and commit ourselves to help one another write more headlines for next year.  


AgroSpheres receives $750,000 Seed Funding; partners with Milenia Labs to expand international outreach. 


AMPEL BioSolutions creates multiple collaborations developing innovative approaches to assess and treat Lupus.


Aperiomics Raises $512k in Seed Funding to expand pathogen testing services.


             ATCC and One Codex partner to Address Microbiome Research.


Canon Virginia Inc Receives ISO Certification and Launches Medical Device Contract Manufacturing Services in Newport News.


Cavion Raises $26.1 MM Series A Financing and launches clinical trial in Essential Tremor.


CEL-SCI Announces $1.5 Million Offering of Shares, and fully enrolls pivotal Phase 3 head and neck cancer study. 


Ceres Nanosciences raises $3 Million in Series A Funding; receives DARPA award to adapt Nanotrap® and, with GMU, Tasso & USAMRIID receives $4.25M from DTRA.


             Contraline’s Kevin Eisenfrats makes Forbes’ “30 under 30”.


Cupron’s copper infused materials use widely expanded by Sentara HealthCare hospitals to reduce risk of infection.


Diffusion Pharmaceuticals moves towards Phase 3 Clinical Trial for lead compound for inoperable GBM brain cancer.


Focused Ultrasound Foundation Receives Transformative $10M Contribution.


  George Mason University scientists develop test to detect TB early.


  Granules Pharmaceuticals Inc. to expand manufacturing in Fairfax County.


Hemoshear Therapeutics and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company announce a multimillion dollar partnership to discover and develop novel therapeutics for liver diseases, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).


             HemoSonics is acquired by Stago Group for point point-of-care blood diagnostics platform.


IALR expands one of a kind library of endophytes in the plant microbiome; first license to Indigo Ag.


Iggbo to open health care locations in 40 major markets nationally.


             Illuminia Ventures raises $230M in First Fund.


             Indivior wins FDA approval for drug to fight opioid addiction.


Inova Personalized Health Accelerator accepts first company, Hememetics Biotechnologies, into investment portfolio.


ivWatch raises $14.8M; receives FDA 510 (k) clearance on device advancing the safety of IV therapy for pediatric patients.


Kaleo wins FDA approval of AUVI-Q® auto-injector for life-threatening allergic reactions in infants and small children; and donates epinephrine injectors to all U.S. public elementary schools


Landos Biopharma Raises $10 Million in Series A Financing.


LifeNet Health to Invest $12.25 million, create 321 new jobs in Virginia Beach.


Medicines for All Institute created with additional $25M Gates Foundation Grant to VCU School of Engineering to increase global access to life saving medicines.


Nutriati raises $10M for Chickpea protein product development.


             Owens & Minor acquires Halyard Health’s Surgical and & Infection Prevention Business.


             Perthera collaborates with Novartis on Clinical Trials for Breast and Lung Cancer.


             PPD expanding Vaccines lab in Richmond.


             Tear Solutions raises $8.5M series B financing co-led by VTC Innovation Fund.


             TechLab Receives FDA Clearance to Market Tri-Combo Parasite Screen.


The Virginia Catalyst (VBHRC) announces 7 Virginia research universities sign groundbreaking agreement to share resources to enhance collaborative research; and also makes + $3M grants to collaborative commercialization projects. 


  TypeZero partners with Senseonics and Roche on ‘Artificial Pancreas’.


  University of Virginia and Inova Health System fund first 9 joint research projects in their long term partnership.


  UVA Health System Plays Role in Cancer Moonshot Program


  VeneBio Launches Tool to Help Reduce Opioid Overdoses.


  Vibrent Health’s Precision Medicine SaaS Platform granted Authority to Operate (ATO) by NIH.


Virginia Beach Innovation Challenge launches with mission to seed 25 companies focusing on biomedical innovation impacting Veterans’ health.


Virginia Institute of Neuropsychiatry develops NeuroGage software to measure brain volume of high school athletes to detect injury.


             Virginia Tech Carilion Biomedical Research Institute Expansion holds ground breaking on $90M Project.


             Virginia Tech Carilion Innovation Fund formed and makes first investment.


             William and Mary iGEM team wins 1st runner up in global competition in synthetic biology.


At Virginia Bio, the staff and Board of Directors, led by the Executive Committee, have worked hard, too, this year, honored to play a part in helping this community accomplish its important work.  Together with collaborating organizations and financial sponsors, we conducted valuable programs and advanced strategic objectives.   Here’s a quick look.

Our invitation-only Virginia Reception at JPMorgan last January was a hit, battling snow and rain, and featured industry champion and BIO Governor of the year Terry McAuliffe.  Our members-only complimentary meeting rooms at the Clift Hotel provided just the right spot for special meetings. Darden Executive Education, UVA Licensing and Ventures, Cherry Bekaert and the Catalyst led the support for this showcase event. 

We held our statewide conference THRIVE 2017 in Virginia Beach in April, co-hosted by LifeNet Health, Williams Mullen, Sentara Health Care and Virginia Beach Economic Development.  The community gathered 350 strong to meet new sources of private funding across Virginia, and national leaders of research and development for Veterans and military personnel, and the EVMS/Sentara collaboration with IBM Watson.

Women Building Bio grew in its second year, led by outstanding women in the industry and academia in Virginia, and supported by top sponsors GMU, VCU, UVA Health System and Virginia Bio + Tech Park.  We gathered hundreds of outstanding women and men again at Inova Center for Personalized Health to inspire, inform and weave a network of relationships to build the state and regional ecosystem. 

Bringing Data to Life was the Innovate conference we co-hosted with Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce, Vibrent Health and Inova Center for Personalized Health.  We gathered for the first time the rapidly expanding and diverse community of companies and researchers in the region working in digital health to take the first steps in forming a network of excellence around critical common problems and significant opportunities. 

The BioHealth Capital Region Forum once again brought together nearly 1,000 leaders from industry, academia, government, investment and health in Virginia, Maryland and DC to encourage our development into one of the nation’s “top 3 by 2023” bio regions.  We again co-hosted this important event with BioHealth Innovation, Paragon Bioservices, University System of Maryland and Inova, under the extraordinary leadership of co-host MedImmune at its Gaithersburg, MD headquarters.

In the Insights series we brought national leaders to Charlottesville to meet industry and university leaders, students and community members on Grounds at our co-host the i.Lab, and with the support of the Virginia Catalyst, CSC Leasing, Cherry Bekaert and Finnegan.  

The two webinar series we produced were greatly appreciated by the audiences, for practical information easily within reach - one on Intellectual Property Protection and, more recently, on Cybersecurity for bioscience companies.  These are archived for members on the Virginia Bio website.

The BioPurchasing program saved Virginia Bio members $9.6M over the last 12 months. 

We arranged for the consulting firm G2G to provide at no cost to our members insightful comprehensive monthly bulletins on recently announced opportunities for nondilutive federal funding. Many members identified valuable opportunities of which they were otherwise unaware.  

Networking and education events were produced across the state -  at the monthly Biotech Commercialization luncheons in Richmond, the Southwest Virginia LifeScience Forum, “Biotech and Beer” networking events at many spots, and bioscience executive luncheons throughout Northern Virginia.

Finally, Virginia Bio and the lobbyist we engaged, First Choice Consulting, worked hard to represent the industry before policymakers in Virginia year round and during the General Assembly, and Virginia Bio worked with our national partners BIO, AdvaMed, MDMA, PhRMA and We Work for Health, to represent our interests before the US Congress and federal policymakers

Special thanks to our Premium Sponsors.  They provide an elevated level of support throughout the year, which enables us to do everything we do, and to do it better.  They are:  Cooley LLP, Piascik CPA, Lilly, Pfizer, VWR, Xenith Bank, Prince William County Economic Development, Medimmune, the Virginia Bio+Tech Park, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Cherry Bekaert, Vibrent Health and the Virginia Catalyst.  

Thanks, too, to our Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and to our terrific staff.  For the first time in seven years we added a position this year, when Cassandra Isley joined us as Director of Business Development and Strategy.  With Sherri Halloran and Caron Trumbo, and our part time bookkeeper Stephone Jones, the team gets an awful lot done.  They bring a passion for the ultimate mission, and great affection for the people we get to deal with on a daily basis. 

As I travel across the region and the country and return home, I am reminded again and again of the spirit of collaboration, the goodwill and the sense of purpose which animates the community of people in our industry in the Commonwealth.  Over time I have come to appreciate that these are our strongest winds, pushing us to make the best headway we can each on our important journeys, to help patients, customers and folks across Virginia and around the world who are waiting for the fruits of our labors.    

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.



Tags:  #biotech #2017inreview 

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Hitting the pavement for our members

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,

One of the missions of Virginia Bio is to lead, and sometimes that means identifying big opportunities for our members and the state and put our shoulder to the wheel.   Let me share a few.

Last week, it was my treat to serve as MC for the VCU School of Engineering’s first Medicines for All Summit, bringing together industry, academic researchers, global public health experts from across the nation and world to Richmond, to spark the collaborative work of the M4All Institute, recently formed with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  By re-engineering the chemistries and manufacturing processes by which small molecule pharmaceuticals are made, M4All is already making an impact on the price and distribution of one major global public health drug – an antiretroviral, with more in the pipeline, and also holds the promise of significantly reducing the cost and barriers to entry to the generic drug industry, improving access to medicines for all.  The technology opens the possibility for entirely new modes of manufacture, and could seed a cluster of innovative companies in the region.

This Wednesday, we were honored to co-host a conference on Digital Health “Bringing Data to Life” along with Vibrent Health, Inova Center for Personalized Health and Dulles Region Chamber of Commerce.  150 attendees heard from a wide variety of companies and university researchers, as well as NIH and NSF funders working in this emerging area. It was the first small step toward a vision of gathering all the considerable strengths in Virginia, DC and Maryland in this hot space, and perhaps creating a Center or Network of Excellence to work together on solving the toughest challenges and pursing opportunities no one company or university can pursue alone.    

Several weeks ago, at the invitation of Virginia Beach Economic Development, I gave remarks at a symposium at the Oxford Biotech Network on the occasion of their Annual Dinner, “Doing (Bioscience) Business to the United States”.  My conversations during my visit opened my eyes to a commonality of strategies among English companies - if not European companies broadly:  they all plan on crossing the pond at some point to establish a US presence to access the US market, and that provides opportunities to Virginia. I applaud the Virginia Beach team for their vision, and the relationship they’ve built with OBN.        

Switching gears to state economic development policy, I’ve lent a hand over the last six months on the Region 4 GoVirginia Foundation Board and the Virginia Research Investment Fund project evaluation team to help build up the systems and processes for these new and significant economic development programs impacting our industry, and to help connect them throughout our community.  Lesson learned:  its’ not easy to stand up a new state program.  I am hopeful these two programs will thrive.  Further reflecting on this fact gives me renewed gratitude for the accomplishments of VBHRC over four short years.

Finally, in a different vein, Cassandra Isley on our team has been working closely with our new member Canon Virginia, Inc., which is undertaking a large expansion of its medical device CMO work in Newport News, to help them connect to members across the state.  We wish them the best, as the realization of their plans will be a strong addition to that region, and to the medical device industry across the state.

If you see major opportunities to grow bioscience R&D and commercialization in Virginia that you don’t think we are aware of, please let us know and we will do our best to help in any way we can.

Best regards,





Tags:  #biotech #m4all #innovateconference #vabeachbio 

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Reasons to Celebrate

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 23, 2017

Dear members and friends,

“Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated.” Especially in our industry, perhaps, where so many people work so hard, so well and so long to move ahead our communal progress in fighting disease, promoting health, feeding and fueling the world.

If you followed our news stories this past month you would have read some great reasons for celebration of all kinds of bioscience companies across the state. The news was great for these drug and device development companies themselves, also for the many suppliers, professionals, CROs who work with them, for the people they will hire, and of course for the patients and customers we all serve. And as it takes success to build success, these stories help build the momentum and the story of the vibrancy and diversity of bioscience R&D and commercialization in Virginia to the benefit of our entire community.

Landos BioPharma in Blacksburg closed a $10M Series A funding, led by a NY life science investment firm. It’s focusing its unique technology on autoimmune diseases, beginning with a unique — and potentially more effective — way to treat Crohn’s disease. The technology has roots at Virginia Tech, as does CEO Dr. Josep Bassaganya-Riera.

Ceres Nanosciences several months ago closed an $8M Series A investment round, and in the last weeks announced it is part of a team including George Mason University (and its National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases), which received an award of $8M from Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to extend Ceres’ NanoTrap technology platform to develop an effective disease surveillance platform that can be rapidly deployed in the field, operated by untrained users, and improve early response. This technology, too, has roots at a Virginia university - George Mason University.

Aperiomics, Ashburn, Virginia, announced the close of a half-million-dollar seed funding round led by Pipeline Angels, a national network of new and seasoned women angel investors. Aperiomics, a biotechnology company that saves lives by harnessing the power of deep next-generation sequencing to identify all known pathogens (bacteria, virus, fungi or parasite) in a single test. Technology and talent at George Washington University’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus was the seed for this company, led by CEO Crystal Icenhour.

Finally, Hemoshear Therapeutics in Charlottesville announced a partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical to discover and develop novel therapeutics for liver diseases, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). HemoShear will receive upfront payments and R&D funding and Takeda will receive exclusive access to HemoShear’s proprietary disease modeling platform to discover and develop best-in-class therapeutics for specific liver diseases. Yes, this technology originated at UVA.

We are privileged at Virginia Bio to know the people who comprise and lead these companies, proud they are Virginia Bio members and delighted to be able to help them in their important work. We’ve watched them over the years and have seen their perseverance, good will, the ability to evolve strategy - even to pivot if needs be, a bedrock pursuit of great science, a distinguishing technology, continual awareness of the ultimate need for and beneficiaries of their work, perseverance (but I repeat myself), and 101% commitment.

“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed,” advised another quote.

Let’s go!


Tags:  #biotech #landos #ceres #aperiomics #hemoshear 

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Women Building Bio Conference Next Week

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 21, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dear Members and Friends,

The Women Building Bio: the XX Factor conference is like no other, and it’s upon us: next Tuesday, September 26, all day at the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax, VA. Register now!

We expect 300 women and men to attend and participate. For those of you who attended last year’s inaugural event, you know the special vibe. Attendees from across the state and region are eager to meet and learn about one another. Come make many new contacts, and plant the seed for friendships and future collaborations. There’s plenty of time built in to network.

Download the App now, and learn about the 40 outstanding women featured on the program, and see who else is already registered to attend.
Hear outstanding leaders in science, business, government, philanthropy engage in insightful discussions on recent developments and trends, and share tips on personal professional development.

A new program element this year, features several presenters whose organizations and programs enable you to plug in, get training and take action all year round. We’re featuring experts at training women for the boardroom, mentoring and accelerating your startup, making your voice known via automated mobile technology when it counts on issues that matter to you to policymakers, and designing with sex and gender in mind.

The program also features inspiring pairs of mentors/mentees share their journey, illustrating the grace and vision of the mentor and the talent of the younger generation just waiting to be nurtured and unleashed. You will be amazed.

Have some fun with us that day, too. We’ll end the day with two-hour reception in the lovely atrium. And share the event on social media as it unfolds. Last year we trended as the number two topic in Greater Washington, DC. This year let’s make it to the top! We’ve got a prize to the number one tweeter. Please use #XXfactor2017 for all your posts!

Many thanks to our host Inova, and our sponsors George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Activation Capital, University of Virginia Health System, AstraZeneca/MedImmune, BIO, Pfizer, Vibrent Health, Virginia Tech University, Silverline Communications, William & Mary, Cherry Bekaert, Greenberg Traurig, LifeNet Health, HHMI Janelia Research Campus, Merck, Sanofi, UVA Licensing and Ventures, iGIANT and Prince William County.


Best Regards,





Tags:  inova  virginia bio  women in science  womenbuildingbio  xxfactor 

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Cybersecurity for Biomedical Companies

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 17, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dear members and friends,

The biomedical industry is increasingly taking note of the risks and costs of cyberattacks. In late June, a number of biopharma companies, including a global industry giant, were hit by a well-publicized worldwide hack. The companies were denied access to data as ransomware demands flashed on their screens, and they were exposed to the risk of exposure of proprietary and competitive scientific and commercial information.

Closer to home, some of you may remember that last Spring my own email address list was hacked, despite protection on my office computer, and certain addresses used as the basis of a phishing scheme.

We asked around, received recommendations, interviewed folks, and ultimately engaged BlueStone Analytics of Charlottesville to provide a cybersecurity assessment and implementation plan to Virginia Bio. The firm has similar work for some of our member companies.

The firm undertook a series of interviews with staff, inspected our hardware and work patterns, preformed a dark web threat intelligence collection, a vulnerability scan of networks and a security architecture review, launched a simulated attack on our system, and finally prepared and delivered to us a Cybersecurity Assessment Report on the first of August.

Most importantly, the firm’s report contains a Security Action plan, which lists nine specific recommendations and additional options to improve our security, encompassing not only the computers and network in our office, but also our mobile devices and cloud based support.

The first seven items were highly recommended, and I am pleased to report all seven recommendations we have completed or are underway. We have implemented universal two-factor authentication (2FA) for all staff, we have changed the passwords on printers and other peripherals which are an attractive opening for cyberattacks; we have installed uniform end-point protection for all devices, we have resumed a practice of regular and systematic data backup; we have turned on device encryption on our mobile devices, and all staff have begun use of Virtual Private Network (VPN). All staff also have started a course of cybersecurity training which will span several months.

The above recommendations have been implemented for all devices used by all four Virginia Bio employees. In the FY 2017/18 budget recently approved by the Board we budgeted for these and other improvements. We believe we owe this to our member companies and to the industry at large. If you have questions about the tools or software we’ve used and our experience with them, please contact Sherri Halloran.

We’ve asked BlueStone Analytics to help us put on a series of webinars in the Fall focused on cybersecurity for startup and scale-up bioscience companies, and access to the webinars will be made available to members free of charge. We will invite you to join the webinars, become aware of the risks and learn about steps you can take to significantly reduce the risk, so watch for an invitation in the coming weeks.

Best regards,




Tags:  bluestone analytics  cybersecurity  hacking  intelligence  phishing  virginia bio 

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