The BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) and its life science ecosystem have a rich and deep history of pioneering scientific innovation, research, development, and commercialization. The regions history has been written by life science anchor companies, scientific research universities, government research organizations, rich startup culture, and serial entrepreneurs, all of whom have played critical roles in transforming the BHCR into one of the most innovative and productive biocluster in the world.
Contributions to the BHCRs legacy of life science achievement have emerged from all staffing levels, various labs, countless executive teams, numerous entrepreneurs and biohub support organizations. Contributions have arisen from an intricate tapestry of backgrounds and cultures.
Women, in particular, have had a strong hand in shaping the history of the BHCR. In celebration of Womens History Month, were taking a closer look at the achievements of female life science leaders that have laid the groundwork for the next generation of women trailblazers in the BHCR and made the region what it is today.
Dr. Fraser is one of the most influential figures in BHCR history. In 1995, she was the first to map the complete genetic code of a free-living organism while at the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland. It was there that the automation of the DNA sequencing process made the idea of large-scale sequencing efforts tangible. As President and Director of TIGR, Fraser and her team gained worldwide public notoriety for its involvement in the Human Genome Project, which was completed in 2000 with the presentation of a working draft of the fully sequenced human genome.
As a leader, Fraser provided her researchers with the infrastructure to collaborate and apply multi-disciplinary team science and empowered them to think big. She is also most importantly known for how she challenged her team to ask the right questions, which is the root of scientific progress and success.
Her work at TIGR and as part of the Human Genome Project are foundational events in the regions history, as it marked the BHCR as the epicenter of genomic research and helped spark the regions biotech boom. In fact, it was a controversial partnership with TIGR that gave Human Genome Sciences(HGSi) the first opportunity to utilize any sequences emerging from TIGR labs. The mass of genetic information and sequences, especially that associated with diseases, that HGSi acquired catapulted them into biotech history and an important anchor company within the region.
Dr. Fraser is widely viewed as a pioneer and global leader in genomic medicine; she has published approximately 320 scientific publications and edited three books; she is also one of the most widely cited microbiology experts in the world. She founded the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland in 1997. The institute currently holds 25 percent of the funding thats been awarded by the Human Microbiome Project and has been referred to as The Big House in genetics.
Dr. Judy Britz is yet another female life science pioneer that put the BHCR on the map. While working as a research scientist at Electro-Nucleonics Inc., Dr. Britz developed one of the first licensed blood screening tests for HIV, and launching a storied career that has spanned approximately 25 years. She is also a serial entrepreneur that has successfully raised $50M in capital and served as the top executive for two highly successful Maryland-located companies.
Dr. Britz was the first woman to lead the states biotech initiative as the first announced Executive Director of the Maryland Biotech Center. The center was launched under the Maryland Department of Commerce to deploy a strategic life science economic development plan under Governor Martin OMalleys $1.3B, 2020 Vision and to be a one-stop-shop and information center to promote and support biotechnology innovation and entrepreneurship in Maryland.
Judy was the first woman to lead Marylands life sciences initiative, bringing industry experience and perspective to the states economic development activities, a focus still maintained under Governor Hogans leadership today, shared Judy Costello, Managing Director, Economic Development BioHealth Innovation, Inc., who served as Deputy Director under Dr. Britz.
Much of the work done by Dr. Britz and her team laid the foundation and seeded the commercialization efforts that have blossomed into the thriving #4 Biotech Hub that we have today.
GeneDx was founded by Dr. Bale and Dr. John Compton in 2000. The company recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Since its founding, GeneDx has become a global leader in genomics and patient testing. Under her leadership, the Gaithersburg, Maryland company has played an important role in the history of genetic sequencing and the rise of the BHCR as a global biohealth cluster.
GeneDx was the very first company to commercially offer NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) testing in a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) lab and has been at the leading edge of genetic sequencing and testing for two decades. The companys whole exome sequencing program and comprehensive testing capabilities are world-renowned.
Prior to launching GeneDx, Dr. Bale spent 16 years at NIH, the last nine as Head of the Genetic Studies Section in the Laboratory of Skin Biology. She has been a pioneer during her storied career, publishing over 140 papers, chapters and books in the field. Her 35-year career includes deep experience in clinical, cytogenetic, and molecular genetics research.
Prior to being named CEO and Chair of the Board of Sequella in 1999, Dr. Nacy was the Chief Science Officer and an Executive VP at EntreMed, Inc. EntreMed was one of the most influential BHCR companies in the 1990s. EntreMed, MedImmune, Human Genome Sciences and Celera Genomics all played critical roles in creating the globally recognized, top biocluster that the BHCR has become.
After earning her Ph.D. in biology/microbiology from Catholic University, Nacy did her postdoc work at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the Department of Rickettsial Diseases; her postdoc performance earned a full-time position at Walter Reed that started a 17-year career at the institute. After a highly successful run, Nacy left Walter Reed to join EntreMed.
Today, Dr. Nacy leads Rockville, Marylands Sequella, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing better antibiotics to fight drug-resistant bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections. Sequellas pipeline of small molecule infectious disease treatments have the potential to improve the treatment and outcomes for the over 3 billion people worldwide that are impacted by increasingly drug-resistant infectious diseases.
Emmes Corporation is the largest woman-led organization in the BHCR and is headed by Dr. Lindblad, who started her career at Emmes in 1982 as a biostatistician. She has been with Emmes for nearly 40 years, ascending to become VP in 1992, Executive VP in 2006 and ultimately the companys CEO in late summer of 2013.
Dr. Lindblad has published more than 100 publications and presentations has served as a reviewer of grant and contract applications for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has chaired or served on Safety and Data Monitoring Committees across multiple disease areas. Emmes is a life science anchor company for the BHCR, employing more than 600 staff globally with its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.
Under Kings leadership, GlycoMimetics (GMI), an oncology-focused biotech, went public, secured an exclusive global licensing agreement with Pfizer and was instrumental in raising significant amounts of capital for the company. She was also the first woman Chair of Biotechnology Innovation Associations (BIO, 2013-14), where she still plays an active role on BIOs Executive Committee.
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School, King has had a celebrated career in both biopharma and finance. Prior to becoming CEO of GMI, King served as an Executive in Residence for New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the leading venture capital firms in the U.S. She has also held the position of Senior Vice President of Novartis-Corporation. King joined Novartis after a remarkable ten year run with Genetic Therapy, Inc. where she was named CEO after helping Genetic Therapy navigate the organization through various growth stages, including the companys sale to Novartis. King was named the Maryland Tech Councils Executive of the Year in 2013, the Top 10 Women in Biotech by FierceBio and has served on multiple boards across her career.
Dr. Connolly has had a pioneering career in the life sciences. She was the very first woman to graduate from Johns Hopkins Universitys Biomedical Engineering Doctoral Program in 1980. She was also a member of the first female undergraduate class entering Stevens Institute of Technology in 1971.
For decades, Dr. Connolly tirelessly worked to build up what is now known as the BHCR. In 1997, shortly before the region gained wider recognition as a biotech hub, she was the first person to be designated the state of Marylands biotechnology representative. Dr. Connollys career has spanned academia, government, and industry, including co-founding a startup and working as the Business Development Director for EntreMed, Inc., an original BHCR anchor company. She is the former Director of Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program (MIPS) and was inducted into the College of Fellows by the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2013.
Dr. Kirschstein played an enormous role in shaping the BHCR as NIH Deputy Director from 1993 to 1999 during the regions early formative years. She also served as Acting Director of NIH in 1993 and from 2000 to 2002. A pathologist by training, she received her medical degree from Tulane University in 1951 and went on to a long, successful career at the Division of Biologics Standards that lasted from 1957 to 1972.
While at the Division of Biologics Standards, Dr. Kirschstein played an important role in testing the safety of viral vaccines and helped select the Sabin polio vaccine for public use. She eventually ascended to Deputy Director of the group in 1972 and was later appointed the Deputy Associate Commissioner for Science at the FDA. In 1974 she became the Director of the National Institute of Medical Sciences at NIH and served in that role for 19 years.
Her awards and accolades are too numerous to list, but one notable honor came in 2000 when she received the Albert B. Sabin Heroes of Science Award from the Americans for Medical Progress Education Foundation.
Lastly, we want to recognize four additional women for their contributions to launching an organization that has impacted thousands of women by promoting careers, leadership, and entrepreneurship for women in the life sciences Women In Bio.
Women In Bio (WIB), one of the most important and influential support organizations for women in the life sciences, was founded in 2002 to help women entrepreneurs and executives in the Baltimore-Washington-Northern Virginia area build successful bioscience-related businesses. WIB started as a BHCR organization but has expanded its footprint to 13 chapters across the U.S. with 225 volunteer leaders and 2,600 members. The non-profit group has created a forum for female life science entrepreneurs and executives based on its core philosophy of women helping women.
WIB founders are Anne Mathias, a local venture capitalist and current Senior Strategist with Vanguard;
Elizabeth Gray, co-founder of Gabriel Pharma and current Partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP;
Robbie Melton, former Director of Entrepreneurial Innovation at TEDCO and current Director of Kauai County, Hawaiis Office of Economic Development;
and Cynthia W. Hu, COO, and General Counsel at CASI Pharmaceuticals.
In conclusion, we can not fairly capture the true history of life science and the BioHealth Capital Region without giving special recognition to Henrietta Lacks. In 1951 a Johns Hopkins researcher created the first immortal human cell line from cervical cancer cells taken from Lacks. That cell line, known as HeLa, is the oldest and most commonly used human cell line which was essential in developing the polio vaccine and has been used in scientific landmarks such as cloning, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization.
Though she was a black tobacco farmer from southern Virginia, her impact on science and medicine is unquestionable. She never knew that the Doctor took a piece of her tumor that would be used by scientists who had been trying to grow tissues in culture for decades without success. For some reason, that is still unknown, but her cells never died and the first immortal human cell line was born.
Thank you to all of the women who have been so influential in shaping the field of science, the industry of biotechnology and the BioHealth Capital Region.
Steve has over 20 years experience in copywriting, developing brand messaging and creating marketing strategies across a wide range of industries, including the biopharmaceutical, senior living, commercial real estate, IT and renewable energy sectors, among others. He is currently the Principal/Owner of StoryCore, a Frederick, Maryland-based content creation and execution consultancy focused on telling the unique stories of Maryland organizations.
See the original post:
- Precision Medicine Informs Cost-Effective Heart Disease Treatments - HealthITAnalytics.com - May 19th, 2020
- Colonizing Mars may require humanity to tweak its DNA - Space.com - May 19th, 2020
- Complement genes add to sex-based vulnerability in lupus and schizophrenia - Newswise - May 19th, 2020
- 23andMe Is Trying to Crack the Genetic Code Behind the Coronavirus - Motley Fool - May 19th, 2020
- Global Molecular Diagnostics Industry 2019-2029: Genetic Disorders, Cardiovascular Disorders, Infections and Cancer - Yahoo Finance UK - May 19th, 2020
- Prominent Cancer Researcher to Join DRI and Renown Health - GlobeNewswire - May 19th, 2020
- Research Roundup: HIV vaccination, diabetes two-in-one injection, hybrid fish genetics - The Stanford Daily - May 19th, 2020
- Singapore researches discover specific gene linked to Asian Lung Cancer - BSA bureau - May 19th, 2020
- Grant will help scientists break new ground in gene editing - Newswise - May 19th, 2020
- Genomic Medicine Market 2020 | Know the Latest COVID19 Impact Analysis And Strategies of Key Players: Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Controls, Daikin, United... - May 19th, 2020
- Dyne Therapeutics Accelerates Programs in Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD) with Exclusive Licensing of Technologies to Target Genetic... - May 19th, 2020
- Coronavirus immunity passports could create a world of 'us and them'. But here's why they make sense - Genetic Literacy Project - May 19th, 2020
- New Stem Cell-Based Topical Solution Helps Bald People Regrow Hair - SciTechDaily - May 19th, 2020
- Scientists race to find a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. Here are the top drugs in development - CNBC - May 19th, 2020
- WHITEHALL ANALYTICA THE AI SUPERSTATE: Part 2 Is COVID-19 Fast-Tracking a Eugenics-Inspired Genomics Programme in the NHS? - Byline Times - May 19th, 2020
- CRISPR And CRISPR-Associated (Cas) Genes Market Size, Share, Trends and Forecast 2026 by Major Players and Business Opportunities Caribou... - May 19th, 2020
- Researchers: Disease affecting kids could be in the genes - Newsday - May 19th, 2020
- From Competition To Sharing: How Her Childrens Rare Disease Led Sharon Terry To Revolutionize Medical Research - Forbes - May 9th, 2020
- Infection rates may have links to cancer - Medical News Today - May 9th, 2020
- Twin peeks: Stanford inherits twin registry, expanding research options - Stanford Medical Center Report - May 9th, 2020
- Management of Fertility and Hormonal Health in Women at Risk for Hereditary Gynecologic Cancers - Endocrinology Advisor - May 9th, 2020
- Individualized mosaics of microbial strains transfer from the maternal to the infant gut - Newswise - May 9th, 2020
- The Falsehoods of the 'Plandemic' Video - FactCheck.org - May 9th, 2020
- Its in your genes Whether Covid lands you in hospital or not depends on your body - ThePrint - May 9th, 2020
- FDA approves Tabrecta, first targeted therapy to treat metastatic NSCLC - The Cancer Letter - May 9th, 2020
- Research into the health of unborn babies receives government funding - UNSW Newsroom - May 9th, 2020
- Genetics and Weight: Is There an Obesity Gene? - LIVESTRONG.COM - May 9th, 2020
- New medical foundation invests in COVID-19 research funding - News - The University of Sydney - May 9th, 2020
- What Do Your Genetics Have to Do With Your Chances of Dying From Coronavirus? - Vanity Fair - May 3rd, 2020
- Scientists Find New Way to Inject Plants With Medicine, And It May Help Save Our Crops - ScienceAlert - May 3rd, 2020
- Sarepta Therapeutics Announces Research Agreement with US Department of Defense to Evaluate Multiple Constructs From its Proprietary RNA Platform as... - May 3rd, 2020
- Evanston hospitals expand to antibody testing - The Daily Northwestern - May 3rd, 2020
- Profits and Pride at Stake, the Race for a Vaccine Intensifies - The New York Times - May 3rd, 2020
- Data On Thousands Of Twins Reveals How Genetics Influences Covid-19 Symptoms - IFLScience - May 3rd, 2020
- The pieces of the puzzle of covid-19s origin are coming to light - The Economist - May 3rd, 2020
- LIST: UW awards $2.2 million to groups, scientists fighting the coronavirus in Wisconsin - WMTV - May 3rd, 2020
- World Laughter Day 2020: Why we must remember that laughter is indeed the best medicine - Hindustan Times - May 3rd, 2020
- When COVID-19 Mutates, What Are the Risks? - MedicineNet - May 3rd, 2020
- Facts that China is trying to suppress about origin of COVID-19 - WION - May 3rd, 2020
- COVID-19: What's RNA research got to do with it? - University of Rochester - May 3rd, 2020
- Medical, tech investments pay off in Covid-19 war - The Straits Times - May 3rd, 2020
- Welcome to the kingdom of the sick - Salon - May 3rd, 2020
- Safety considerations with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in the management of SARS-CoV-2 infection - CMAJ - May 3rd, 2020
- XBiotech Identifies Super Bloods for the Development of a True Human COVID-19 Therapy - GlobeNewswire - May 3rd, 2020
- On National DNA Day, scientists are trying to take the colonialism out of genetics - Massive Science - April 26th, 2020
- Turning On the 'Off Switch' in Cancer Cells - Michigan Medicine - April 26th, 2020
- Turkey's top scientific body invests TL 2.3 billion on 16 vaccine projects over 5 years | Daily Sabah - Daily Sabah - April 26th, 2020
- Covid-19 will pass. What about the racism it has illuminated? - STAT - April 26th, 2020
- Infection Rate May Indicate a Future Diagnosis of Cancer - Cancer Network - April 26th, 2020
- Misleading coronavirus information falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins - AFP Factcheck - April 26th, 2020
- He signed up for a coronavirus vaccine trial using a method that's never been used in humans. Here's why. - CNN - April 26th, 2020
- New study could lead to therapeutic interventions to treat cocaine addiction - Newswise - April 26th, 2020
- As Cuomo Issues New Executive Order, Weill Cornell Medicine Ramps Up COVID-19 Testing - Cornell University The Cornell Daily Sun - April 26th, 2020
- Another Step Towards Earlier Detection of Pancreatic Cancer - MedPage Today - April 26th, 2020
- UW president, biochemistry chair and mathematics professor named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences - UW News - April 26th, 2020
- Mustang Bio Receives Advanced Therapy Medicinal Product Classification from European Medicines Agency for MB-107 Lentiviral Gene Therapy for X-Linked... - April 26th, 2020
- Childhood Psychopathology Linked to Higher Levels of Genetic Vulnerability of Adult Depression - Clinical OMICs News - April 26th, 2020
- Gdask scientist makes crucial headway in understanding killer virus by isolating COVID-19 DNA from infected patient - The First News - April 26th, 2020
- Ethiopia's Ministry of Health Holds Webinar With Diaspora on COVID-19 Response at Tadias Magazine - Tadias Magazine - April 26th, 2020
- Immunity and our DNA: Why women are the stronger sex - The Age - April 26th, 2020
- Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier inaccurately claims that the novel coronavirus is man-made and contains genetic material from HIV - Health Feedback - April 26th, 2020
- Concert Genetics Presents Real-World Data on Utilization of NGS-Based Diagnostic Tests in NCCN 2020 Abstract - news-herald.net - April 2nd, 2020
- What scientists know about COVID-19 -- and what they don't - PBS NewsHour - April 2nd, 2020
- UVA Finds Way to Improve Cancer Outcomes by Examining Patients' Genes - University of Virginia - April 2nd, 2020
- Brown Alpert Medical School Autism Expert on Latest Advances in Research and Testing - GoLocalProv - April 2nd, 2020
- Coronavirus testing is ramping up. Here are the new tests and how they work. - Livescience.com - April 2nd, 2020
- Muscular Dystrophy Association Announces Formation of Strategic Medical Advisory Team of Experts in Neuromuscular Care and Research - PRNewswire - April 2nd, 2020
- Modalis Obtains Access to Foundational CRISPR IP - BioSpace - April 2nd, 2020
- Group behind NYC COVID-19 tent hospital is forcing medical workers to abide by anti-gay statement of faith - Metro Weekly - April 2nd, 2020
- What is coronavirus and Covid-19? An explainer - CNN - April 2nd, 2020
- COVID-19 Vaccine: Here Are Steps It Will Need to Go Through During Development | Medicine - Sci-News.com - April 2nd, 2020
- Coronavirus morning update: SA deaths now 5, but 50 recoveries in CT, and lifesaving lockdown - Health24 - April 2nd, 2020
- Can India be an outlier in the spread of Covid-19? | Opinion - Hindustan Times - April 2nd, 2020
- Genetic Medicine | Department of Medicine - March 31st, 2020
- Institute of Genetic Medicine | Johns Hopkins Medicine - March 31st, 2020
- Biotech innovations to spur next phase of personalized care - ModernHealthcare.com - March 31st, 2020
- What is genomic medicine? An introduction to genetics in ... - March 31st, 2020
- Patients with Severe Forms of Coronavirus Disease Could Offer Clues to Treatment - Howard Hughes Medical Institute - March 31st, 2020
- Battelle and Wexner Medical Center create new diagnostic test for COVID-19 - The Ohio State University News - March 31st, 2020
- 8 strains of the coronavirus are circling the globe. Here's what clues they're giving scientists. - USA TODAY - March 31st, 2020