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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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Virginia Higher Education Research Summit Recap

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Thursday, June 19, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Members and Friends of Virginia Bio,

What can be done to optimize the extraordinary  potential of the state’s great research universities, to increase extramural research funding, and accelerate discovery, development and commercialization of their innovations?   

This important and timely question was the focus of the Virginia Higher Education Research Summit held in Richmond on June 9.  The Summit was hosted by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia, in cooperation with the Center for Excellence in Education, Center for Innovative Technology, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.  The Summit brought together some 250 leaders and stakeholders committed to supporting and growing Virginia’s research enterprise, including representatives from executive and legislative branches of state and federal government, Virginia’s public and private higher education institutions, large and small businesses. Presenters showcased exemplary private/public partnerships between universities and the private sector, challenges and opportunities for acquiring capital to drive an idea to market, advice from university researchers to young investigators, and corporate thoughts about future fields that will be required to address the multi-dimensional challenges in health, cyber, manufacturing, energy, agriculture and the environment.   Research and development of the bioscience and medicine featured prominently.  

This day-long event featured Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Education Ann Holton, among others, and two panels of experts, one from the academic side and the other from industry.  The morning panel featured eminently successful academic researchers speaking about “Public Private Partnerships:  Exemplary Models”. The panelists were Donald Brown, UVa, Paul Fisher, VCU, Michael Friedlander, Virginia Tech Carillion Research Institute, Richard Heller, ODU and Duminda Wijesekera, George Mason, and I was privileged to moderate. The afternoon panel furnished a funder and industry perspective on a “Forecast of Future Market Demand and Trends” and featured James Ellenbogen, MITRE Corporation, Donald Hamadyk, Newport News Shipbuilding, Sean Kanuck, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Christopher Yochim, AstraZeneca, and was moderated by Bobbie Kilberg, CEO of  NVTechCouncil.  The program with slides is at:  http://www.schev.edu/VAResearchSummit.asp

Virginia is home to a number of extraordinary research universities with strengths in varied fields, and they serve as the engine for much of the Commonwealth’s innovation in the biosciences.  Both new and established university researchers hold enormous potential to make and develop discoveries that will save lives and improve health and well-being worldwide, while creating jobs and economic development in the Commonwealth.

It is widely believed that traditional federal sources of science research funding such as NIH will remain level at best in the foreseeable future, and thus to increase research funding our universities need to increase collaboration with industry and foundations.  At the same time, competition for these funding sources will increase, and thus to be successful our universities must find new ways to become more valuable and more competitive. One obvious response is to improve collaborations within the state universities; however, our great institutions are geographically widely dispersed and structurally not as tightly coordinated as in some other states.  SCHEV CEO Peter Blakely and Board members summed up the discussions at the end of the day and sketched next steps, declaring  the Summit a call to action - the beginning for an informed and purposeful statewide effort to encourage and support private and public research collaborations and extramural funding.  

Virginia Bio pledges its support of this important effort going forward, and will be involved in follow through.  If this is a subject of particular interest to you as a member, please let me know and I will keep you  apprised of developments and tap your energy and time as opportunities arise.    


Best Regards,

Jeff Gallagher
CEO

Tags:  Biological  DARPA  federal  funding  Governor  Research  STEM 

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Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program at GMU

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Thursday, May 22, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

There is an extraordinary summer program for high school and college age scientists at George Mason University.  Amy VanMeter Adams is the Director of the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program at GMU, within the Center for Applied Proteomics & Molecular Medicine on the Prince William Campus.

This summer, sixty-seven competitively selected high school and undergraduate students from 27 different schools will participate in the 2014 Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program (ASSIP). For seven and a half weeks, the participants will work one-one with university scientists to engage in sophisticated, original STEM research in Proteomics, Genomics, Neuroscience, Biochemistry, Infectious Disease, Biodefense, Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Physics, Nanotechnology, Applied Mathematics, Bioengineering, or Environmental Science.

In addition to gaining hands-on experience using the latest technologies in their discipline, the participants will also practice scientific writing and communication skills, participate in workshops that promote creativity, and attend career development activities that introduce the variety of STEM careers in private industry, government, academia, and healthcare.

To date, 220 students have participated in ASSIP for 1 or more years. Of this cohort, 29 students co-authored scientific journal articles, 12 co-authored abstracts presented at local and national conferences, 3 co-authored a submitted book chapter, and 1 student was co-inventor on a patent application based on work performed during the ASSIP program.

Philanthropic support for the 2014 ASSIP has been provided by 4-VA, Fisher Scientific, Life Technologies, Micron Foundation, Corning Life Sciences, Prince William County Department of Economic Development, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Promega, George Mason University, and private donors.

I have shared this model with colleagues at other state BIO organizations and state BIO foundations across the country, and they are always greatly impressed.  It is a treasure.  Thanks to Amy and the researchers and administrators at GMU, and to their sponsors, who are investing so wisely in the next generation of bio scientists?

Check it out at http://assip.cos.gmu.edu/.

Best Regards,

Jeff Gallagher



Tags:  high school  intern  STEM 

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DARPAs New Biological Technologies Office (“BTO”)

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

The purpose of this monthly post is to highlight extraordinary people, activities and assets in this broad, deep and diverse Virginia bioscience community.

DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Agency Program, headquarteredin Arlington, Virginia and it awards grants to fund breakthrough R&D.

DARPA recently formed a Biological Technologies Office (“BTO”) to consolidate and expand DARPA’s funding of the biosciences. “Starting today,” DARPA officials proclaimed when announcing the formation of the BTO, “biology takes its place among the core sciences that represent the future of defense technology”.

The BTO is tasked is to merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security, to explore the increasingly dynamic intersection of biology and the physical sciences, to harness the power of biological systems, and to design next-generation technologies that are inspired by insights gained from the life sciences.

“Biology is nature’s ultimate innovator, and any agency that hangs its hat on innovation would be foolish not to look to this master of networked complexity for inspiration and solutions,” said DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar in testimony to Congress this Spring.

BTO programs push the leading edge of science. For example, DARPA recently announced a Hand Proprioception & Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program, expanding on the work of DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics and Reliable Neural-Interface technology programs.

BTO establishes research priority areas. Future programs will be created from ideas brought to the agency by program managers and through conversations with the research community. BTO soon will release a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) that will define research areas of interest and welcome solicitations from industry and academia to meet defined goals, and the BTO hosts forum in Arlington for academic and corporate R&D visits and discussions. The BTO’s new Director is Dr. Geoffrey Ling, a neuroscientist.

Take a look at http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/BTO/

Virginia Bio will seek to help Virginia’s researchers and companies become aware and take full advantage of DARPA and other federal defense sources of bioscience funding, many in our own backyard. Look for webinars, events, and other opportunities in the months to come.

Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher

Tags:  agency  Biological  DARPA  federal  funding  government  Research 

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Undergraduate Biotechnology B.S. program at James Madison University.

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Members and friends of 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.   Starting today, every month in this newsletter I’ll take a short look at an outstanding member of Virginia’s bioscience community.  

I begin with a focus on the foundation for future success of our companies and our industry - bringing well-trained, well-educated new people into the industry, and highlight the undergraduate Biotechnology B.S. program at James Madison University.   Virginia enjoys many great teaching and research institutions, and the Virginia Bio Foundation is committed to focused efforts to help promote STEM-H education and training, and facilitating school to industry connections.  This program is surely one of our finest and most innovative.

 

If you have attended any of our biotech and beer social functions in Charlottesville or the Valley, even in Richmond and Blacksburg, chances are you have met students from the undergraduate Biotechnology B.S. program at James Madison University. If you’ve talked to any of the companies across the state which have hired young people from the program, you know how highly they speak of them. Last Fall I spent an evening with the Virginia Bio JMU Student Chapter, and some 40 students turned out on a cold stormy night to meet someone from the business side. This administrators and teachers of this program deserve our praise and admiration, along with the students. It is a gem. The Director is Dr. Marta Bechtel.

 

The Biotechnology B.S. program is inter-disciplinary among three departments: Biology, Chemistry, and Integrated Science and Technology. The program requires a strong curriculum in foundation in science and math, followed by "Biotechnology Transition Courses” such as "Biotechnology and Industry”, plus 15 credits of upper level courses shaped by the student’s specific goals and interests, and which can include Regulatory Issue in Biotechnology, the Business of Biotechnology, and Medical Biotechnology and Computer Applications in Biotechnology.

 

For more information see the overview of the program, and degree requirements.

In order to help grow connections between the Biotechnology B.S. program at JMU and industry companies and research institutions, on Thursday April 24 Virginia Bio will partner with JMU and Cadence, Inc to hold a Biotech and Beer social event at JMU from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Our Biotech and Beer gatherings are casual, fun and a great way to network. On this night a bonus will be an extra large number of enthusiastic, focused and talented students, their faculty and administrators. You will get to see firsthand what the students are doing and capable of, and perhaps get a lead on an intern or employee in the months and years ahead. And we’ll spare them the drive across state.

 

Best regards,

 

Jeff Gallagher

 

PS - On April 3, I’m sharing a "fly-over” of the state’s regions and players at the monthly Virginia Bioscience Commercialization luncheon. Even if you can’t make it to Richmond for the event, remember the event is live streamed and available on our website afterwards on the website in archive.

Tags:  degree  students 

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