Print Page | Sign In | Join Today
News & Press: VABIO News

Virginia Outstanding Contribution to Life Science Inducts Three Award Winners

Wednesday, May 8, 2019  
Share |

Virginia Bio, the premier statewide non-profit trade association representing the life sciences industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia, announced on May 2, 2019, during its innovative, bioscience conference, THRivE 2019, that three new award winners are getting inducted into the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Bioscience in Virginia Award Ceremony.

“There are 23 award winners to date,” shares Crystal Icenhour, Co-founder & CEO Aperiomics, Ashburn, Virginia, “including Nobel laureates, pioneering companies, great research institutions and trailblazing entrepreneurs. The three new award winners were chosen from over 100 nominations by a committee of all former Chairs of Virginia Bio.  Together they tell the rich story of bioscience research and commercialization in Virginia.” 

Congratulations to the Ground Breaking and Innovative Award Winners

 “Three organizations exemplify the excellence, variety and dynamism of the Virginia biosciences community,” shares Jeff Gallagher, CEO Virginia Bio. “It is with great pleasure to announce our new inductees and share their amazing stories in making a global impact.”

The Focused Ultrasound Foundation (FUSF)

Known for improving the lives of millions worldwide by making focused ultrasound available in the shortest time possible. Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the non-profit is leading the global movement to accelerate and coordinate the research, development, approval and adoption of image-guided focused ultrasound as an early stage non-invasive therapeutic technology for patients suffering from more than 100 disorders.  Recently recognized by Charity Navigator as one of America’s 10 Best Medical Research Organizations, the Foundation blends scientific and clinical research, collaboration, business development, education and advocacy worldwide. Dr. Neal Kassel, Founder and Chairman of Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Charlottesville received the award. 

Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at Old Dominion University

The Center for Bioelectrics based in Norfolk, Virginia, was the first research center of its kind and is a world leader in advancing scientific understanding of how intense, pulsed electromagnetic fields and cold ionized gases interact with biological systems. Researchers at the Center translate discoveries into the development of medical diagnostics and therapeutics as well as environmental decontamination processes.

Research performed at and licensed by the Center to industry led in 2017 to the most successful university-based IPO and the largest single commercialization effort at ODU.  Richard Heller, Professor, Eminent Scholar and former Executive Director of the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics at Old Dominion University received the award.

Merck Manufacturing Plant

For 78 years, Merck & Co’s manufacturing plant in Elkton, Virginia has been at the forefront in developing and manufacturing pharmaceuticals for millions of people worldwide.  In the last decade Merck has invested nearly 1 billion dollars, transforming one of the nation’s leading small molecule manufacturing plants into a facility poised to produce the next generation of biologics and pharmaceuticals.  Merck plays an important role in the regional economy and is an outstanding corporate citizen in the Valley. Its many hundreds of employees volunteer generously in STEM-related school and community activities, and Merck maintains strong working relationships with Virginia’s universities and community colleges, David Ege, Executive Director, Vaccines & Biologics manufacturing at Merck’s Elkton, Virginia manufacturing facility, received the award.  


THRiVE Conference 2019

THRiVE 2019, held on May 2, 2019 at the Omni Downtown Richmond, Virginia, brought together bioscience leaders from across the state and beyond – including companies, universities, research organizations, investors, entrepreneurs, policy makers, scientific and professional services firms – to help create the future of the industry.

“This is always an amazing event,” says Andrew Krouse, Founder, President & CEO Cavion, Chairman Virginia Bio , “and we are thrilled to have such a great turn out of talent and  life science industry leaders from across the state, gathered all in one place. The event is a great platform for launching, connecting and inspiring the development of R&D and commercialization in Virginia.”

This one-day conference hosts the latest in Life Science Innovation, and is designed to give attendees insights and intelligence needed in order to navigate the ever-evolving landscape, and offers sessions and expert talks from some of the sharpest minds in Life Science. Speakers and topics included:

·       Regenerative Medicine: My Journey: Dan Hathorn, Director, Business Development, Embody LLC, retired Chief Petty Officer, Naval Special Warfare, Norfolk, Virginia

·       Opportunities to Address the Biomedical Needs of the US Military: Captain Joseph V. Cohn, Chief, Research Program Administration Division, Research & Development Directorate, Defense Health Administration, Fairfax, Virginia

·       Developing Innovative Technologies to Improve the Lives of Patients around the World: Eric Major, President, Spine Division Stryker, Leesburg, Virginia

·       National Perspective and Federal Issues: Greg Crist, Chief Advocacy Officer, Head of External Affairs, AdvaMed, Washington, D.C.

Also at the event, four important announcements were made:


  1. Bill Thomas, Associate Vice President for Government Relations at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia announced Hampton University is hosting the 21st Annual HHS NIH SBIR/STTR National Conference on October 28-30, 2019 in host city Virginia Beach, Virginia.  This conference brings leadership representing all NIH Institutes participating in the SBIR/STTR Program (America’s Seed Fund) together to provide researchers and small businesses from across the nation information and guidance on nondilutive federal funding opportunities in biomedicine and health.

2.     Melinda Hancock, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer, VCU Health System in Richmond shared about the new VCU Healthcare Innovation Consortium (HIC), to make Richmond, Virginia a nationally recognized hub for health care innovation. HIC is a systematically new approach to identifying, supporting, and resourcing innovative ideas from within and outside the health system that have promise for development to significantly improve clinical care. For more, please visit and

3.     Sandra Burks, Executive Program Director for the Integrated Translational Health Research Institute of Virginia ( iTHRIV) from Charlottesville, Virginia, described this statewide clinical and translation research partnership of multiple Virginia research universities and health care systems which recently won a $20M+ award from NIH NCATS to become one of about 50 CTSA program hubs nationwide, driving the translation of research discovery into improved patient care.   For more, please visit

4.     Mike Grisham, CEO of Virginia Catalyst announced it is now accepting Letters of Intent until July 10, 2019  from applicants interested in pursuing grant funding support in its grant Round 10.  Catalyst grants are designed to support collaborations among Virginia public research universities with industry.  For more, visit

Our Premium Partners

Sign up for our newsletter
800 E. Leigh St.  |  Richmond, Va 23219-1534  |  PH: 804.643.6360  |  Email Us
Stay Connected