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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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What’s up with “Nano”?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Members and friends of Virginia Bio,

I loved the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” But in bioscience innovation and commercialization, don’t diss the really small stuff. It’s called “Nano” - Nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanosurfaces. And it’s big.

What’s up with “Nano”? First of all, materials can have very different properties and function in unique ways when structured at the nanoscale. When particles are created with dimensions of about 1–100 nanometers (where the particles can be “seen” only with scanning electron and atomic force microscopes and the like) the materials’ properties change significantly from those at larger scales.

Quantum effects rule the behavior and properties of particles, and in this size range properties such as melting point, fluorescence, electrical conductivity, magnetic permeability, and chemical reactivity change as a function of the size of the particle. Nanoscale gold particles, for example, change significantly from those at larger scale, and that can be put to practical use: nanoscale gold particles selectively accumulate in tumors, where they can enable both precise imaging and targeted laser destruction of the tumor by means that avoid harming healthy cells.

Nanoscale materials have enormously larger surface areas than similar masses of larger-scale materials. A cubic centimeter solid has a surface area of 6 square centimeters. Fill that same volume with 1-nanometer-sized cubes—1021 of them, each with an area of 6 square nanometers, and their total surface area comes to 6,000 square meters - bigger than a football field.

Now add in the observation that nature has perfected nanotechnology - most biological processes occur at the nanoscale. The diameter of hemoglobin is 5.5 nanometers, and a strand of DNA about 2 nanometers.

With this, one can begin to imagine why there’s excitement that nanowires, Bucky balls, gold nanoparticles, even nanobots can make unprecedented contributions not only to medicine, in the design of tools, the discovery and development of treatments and therapies, but also to environmental and agricultural challenges the facing the world in the coming decades.

The federal agencies of public sciences are on to it. NIH has a Nanomedicine Program and an NIH/NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, and its website provides a good overview of the science and biomedical applications. NIST has a separate Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), and NSF, too, has a Nanoscience Project.

In our state, the Virginia Nanotechnology Initiative (VNI) is a statewide consortium of Virginia's universities, federal labs, state agencies, and industrial partners, dedicated to promoting collaborative nanotechnology research, workforce development, technology transfer and commercialization. Established through seed funding from Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), VNI goals include building a "nanotechnology community" in Virginia and placing the state in the forefront of nanotechnology research and innovation. 

A quick (and incomplete) tour around the programs and centers at our universities and colleges includes the following:

• College of William and Mary – The Department of Applied Science works in Nanostructures & Thinfilms, and has the Nanomaterials and Imaging Lab.

• George Mason University - The Mason Nanotechnology Forum has developed a Graduate Certificate in Nanotechnology and Nanoscience, and the Mason Nanotechnology Initiative opens a space for discussion and planning to nanoscience and nanotechnology across the university.

• Old Dominion University – The Xu Group performs cutting-edge research on bio- and nano- technologies and ultrasensitive analytical methodologies to address fundamental and practical questions in chemical, biochemical and biomedical research.

• University of Virginia - multiple resources and centers dot the grounds. The Institute for Nanoscale and Quantum Scientific and Technological Advanced Research (nanoSTAR) is a dedicated, multi-disciplinary team striving to advance research & development at the nanoscale, working in nanomedicine, nano and quantum electronics, and energy/environment through partnerships with academia, industry, and national laboratories. NanoSTAR programs, including Seed Grants and the Spring Symposium. Researchers are spinning out companies, including CIT grant recipients. The Center for Nanoscopic Materials Design (MRSEC) and the Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility provide important and cutting edge resources for the university and collaborators. UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science’s departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Biomedical Engineering have formed a program in nanomedicine.

• Virginia Commonwealth University – offers a Ph.D. in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Departments of Chemistry and Physics, and at the School of Engineering the Biomedical Engineering Program includes the NanoMedicine Lab and the Nanomaterials Core Characterization Facility.

• Virginia Tech - Core resources on campus include the Micro and Nano Fabrication Laboratory and the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Lab (NCFL). Other foci are the Advanced Materials Group, Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, the Nano2Earth Project and NanoBioEarth Research Group. Virginia Tech recently won a spot in the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) a five year National Science Foundation award to focus on the interactions of nanomaterials the soil, water, air, and biological systems. Translational Nanomedicine is explored by the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, ICTAS and Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI). At the Wake Forest Virginia Tech School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Nanomedicine & Nanobioengineering provides a center of bioresearch at the nano level. Virginia Tech also offers a B.S. in nanoscience.

• Virginia’s Community Colleges offer a half dozen courses in nanotechnology and nanomaterials. And Virginia public schools have nanotechnology in their sights as well. October is “Techtober” in Virginia, and this year the National Nano Initiative, MathScience Innovation Center, and Virginia Department of Education partnered to offer a Web meeting for teachers to explore “Nanotechnology: Applications, Educational Pathways & Resources. Click here to see a nice video from the meeting.

Statewide an increasing number of companies, big and small, are putting nanoscale discoveries to use in areas from therapeutics to diagnostics, biosensors, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, medical devices, environmental resource remediation and treatment, and agricultural use.

It’s hard to say “think big” with Nano; perhaps it’s think differently, use your imagination and be open to big improvements in bioscience innovation and commercialization.

Best Regards,

Jeff Gallagher

Tags:  nanoparticles  nanotechnology  ODU  University of virginia  UVA  VCU  Virginia bio  virginia bioscience  Virginia Tech  William and Mary 

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Eight Amazing Weeks of Knowledge

Posted By Jeff Gallagher, Thursday, August 28, 2014

Members and friends of Virginia Bio,


It is a key part of our mission and a true joy at Virginia Bio to gather, shape and tell the powerful story of the bioscience community in Virginia.  One aspect, frequently underappreciated, is the rich and diverse offerings our members mount to educate and connect Virginians with one another and the world. 


We are honored and excited to promote our members’ significant events among our membership and our followers, and we regularly do so on our website.  Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our Community Calendar.  Attend some of these great events as well as our Virginia Bio events, learn, benefit, contribute and help us further develop the bioscience community in the Commonwealth.  


Here’s a snapshot taken today of some of the significant events planned by members across the state over the next eight weeks with national and international profile and scope. Not to mention, our many Virginia Bio events. More details and appropriate member site links are on our Community Calendar.


September 16 –  The Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery launches its annual Seminar Series on campus in Blacksburg with the first of four Fall seminars.  Speakers are top researchers and entrepreneurs from across the country, and this Fall includes the Executive Director of the Yale Molecular Discovery Center, the President of the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, and the President of FirstString Research, commercializing technology developed in VTCRI labs. The details and schedule can be found here.


September 19 - The LifeNet Health Institute of Regenerative Medicine in Virginia Beach will present its 2014 Symposium Cartilage Regeneration: State-of-the-art and Future Direction. The one and a half-day symposium offers participants the opportunity to connect with highly respected providers and scientists from across the United States in the fields of cartilage repair, regeneration, and research and development. This annual event brings in national and international leaders to provide an overview on the evolution of contemporary allograft sciences in the biological wisdom that optimizes patient care. The main objective of these meetings is to inspire an interactive dialogue among clinicians, administrators, and allograft scientists to inspire and recognized the deep appreciation for the scientific method of allograft sciences.


September 22 - The Sanger Series at VCU will bring in the nation’s point person on the critical issue of reproducibility of biomedical research to Richmond.  Lawrence Tabak is the principal deputy director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and currently coordinating a trans-NIH effort to strengthen the rigor and reproducibility of scientific findings.  Concerns voiced by scientists, industry and the public and in publications ranging from Science and Nature Reviews to the Economist and Wall Street Journal, suggest the systems for ensuring the reproducibility of biomedical research are in need of repair, and the impact on translation and commercialization could be enormous. NIH is leading the charge to face a situation many would rather ignore, and Dr. Tabak will share details and directions of that effort.


October 12-16 - The Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Charlottesville, has organized its Fourth International Symposium on Current and Future Applications of Focused Ultrasound in Bethesda, MD.  The Symposium will spotlight leading edge preclinical, translational and clinical research related to one of today’s most promising and innovative therapeutic technologies.  Global leaders in business, research science, engineering and clinical medicine will present, and be in attendance.


October 24 - Sheikh Ziad Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC, a Virginia Bio member, is mounting its 2nd Annual Pediatric Surgical Innovation Symposium at the Newseum in Washington DC.  The Conference "Lessons from Drugs to Devices - A Pediatric Perspective” will bring together over 250 key leaders from industry, government, top-tier research universities, healthcare institutions and venture capitalists to improve the state of pediatric surgical and device innovation and the regulatory clearance and approval process leading to commercialization.


October 30 – Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) will mount its annual International Trade Conference in Richmond, with a breakout track on BioTechnology, featuring Virginia bioscience companies selling abroad sharing experiences and solutions. Follow this link for additional information.


Quite an eight weeks!  Virginia Bio member companies and research institutions will be busy not only with the daily blocking and tackling to make discoveries and move them to the clinic and marketplace, but also busy spreading knowledge, sparking innovation, creating opportunity and building the community. 


Stay up to date with events like these produced by our members, as well as Virginia Bio’s own events, at our website on the Community Calendar.


Best Regards,



Jeff Gallagher


Tags:  Childrens National  Focused Ultrasound Foundation  LifeNet Health  VCU  VEDP  VT 

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