Posted by Jim H on July 21, 2011
The Dog Days of Summer are here and the Biotech Livin’ in Frederick is easy……
I’m setting up a couple of events you all may be interested in. First and foremost, working on the next BioBeers in August at “The Incubator” aka the Frederick Innovative Technology Center or FITCI for short. I have one firm sponsor and could use one or two more, if you are interested. No date, at his point in time.
Just got out of a great meeting at the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce with Frank and SAIC-Frederick. We’re setting up, with Frank’s help, the next Tech Connect for Bio event at the Chamber. What we are trying to do is to peel the onion back a bit deeper and give local companies more insight into what is going on at Fort Detrcik and how they can participate as either a partner in providing goods and services or in licencing out technologies developed on the Fort for commercial purposes. This is the main reason Jim Hartley and I started BioBeers in the first place. Jim is working with our old (I say that with the best intent) friend Deb on this amazing system they have developed:
You need to scroll over to the right hand column and pick the “SAIC-Frederick Targeted Protein Delivery” icon to see their video. I don’t know how to copy and attach a flash file. As you’ll see from the viseo, they even roped in another former LifeTech employee, Dave Hoekzema, to lead the commercialization effort. It’s like the holy trinity of innovation that the fools formerly in charge of Invitrogen jettisoned.
The third thing is an event I am helping to set up. Lilypons Water Gardens has an annual wine festival and Dog Jumping contest. You know those events you may have seen on ESPN where the dog sprints down a dock and leaps as far as they can into the water chasing a decoy? So I was there in my official capacity as a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador talking to Margret about trying to find out if they could use spent grains from beer making as fish food and she mentions their annual event, The Puppy Palooza on Sept 3rd & 4th. Margret mentioned that the crowd was more of a “beer crowd” than a wine crowd and if I knew anyone she could talk to about making this a Beerfest? In case you didn’t know, we have a local brewery call “Flying Dog.” I know some people there and we’re going to make it happen. The 1st ever Flying Dog competition at Lilypons sponsored by Flying Dog and hopefully represented by all of the local breweries. Stay tuned!
Posted in BioBeer, Blogterviews, Events, Government Funded research, Rants | 1 Comment »
Posted by Jim H on May 27, 2011
I just got my copy of the book “Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life“ and it’s a page turner: pithy and fascinating. It also features a couple chapters on my LavaAmp co-conspirators Guido and Joseph. We’re getting some decent free press on this one, that’s for sure. There was a feature last week in The Guardian interviewing Joseph and Guido won us a $40,000 USD grant through Start Up Chile.
From a write up in BoingBoing in April comes this quote: “We reject the popular perception that science is only done in million-dollar university, government, or corporate labs; we assert that the right of freedom of inquiry, to do research and pursue understanding under one’s own direction, is as fundamental a right as that of free speech or freedom of religion,” Patterson writes in A Biopunk Manifesto, a biohacker call-to-arms she wrote last year.
“We have no quarrel with Big Science; we merely recall that Small Science has always been just as critical to the development of the body of human knowledge, and we refuse to see it extinguished.”
That’s a “Two Fer” Meredith. As in fer shure, fer shure……..
Posted in Awards and recognition, Government Funded research, LavaAmp, Molecular Biology, News, Public/Private Companies, Rants | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim H on April 12, 2011
Biobeers on Friday rocked the Akonni house. We had about 200 people and killed 3 kegs in just about 3 hours, a new Biobeers record (although some people have nothing to be proud about). Let’s hope we can break that record in June. I have several people offering to sponsor in June, but we need a venue. If anyone has space for 200 people and the desire to have 200 people in biotech roost in their hood foe a few hours in June, let me know…
I uploaded some pictures sent to me by Cheryl at Akonni onto MeetUp. If you have any you’d like to share, please let me know.
And speaking of FredCoBio stuff, I was invited by my friends at SAIC-Frederick to be a part of a “Media Tour” of NCI-Frederick. the tour included a nice overview, a tour of the Laboratory of Proteomics and Analytical Technology (LPAT), the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer and the Electron Microscope Lab. It was a good tour, fairly basic on the hard core science side of things, but a good tour nonetheless.
I learned a couple things:
1. US consumers spent about $5.1 billion USD on Halloween in 2010. The entire budget for NCI annually is $5.2 billion. That means we spent about as much on pagan rituals and high fructose corn syrup products (excluding motor fuel) in 2010 as we did on cancer research.
2. The Federal Government spent in 30 days in the was in Iraq as much as they have in the past 30 years on cancer research (per the NCI budget).
OK, which one is has the best ROI? The War on Cancer or the War on Terrorism?
Posted in BioBeer, Blogterviews, Events, Government Funded research, LavaAmp, presentations | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim H on March 8, 2011
I have been a slack blogger since I’ve started tweeting & scouring my RSS feeds, that’s for sure. Fortunately, you can following my twitterverse in the left hand column of this blog or get up off yer ass and get on twitter yourself?!
So, most importantly, the next installation of BioBeers will be on Friday April 8th at Akonni Biosystems in Downtown Frederick! wOOt ! For those not familiar with Akonni, they’re been getting a lot of attention for their rapid DNA extraction system and their rapid, low-cost microarray systems. The street address is 400 Sagner Ave., Suite 300, Frederick, MD 21701. I hereby proclaim anyone from Frederick County that needs a GPS to find it, right next to McCutcheon’s, is automatically un-invited. You know who you are.
Please RSVP via email, LinkedIn or MeetUp
This far I have two confirmed sponsors: Biotech Primer and Chesapeake Insurance/SandySpring Bank. Still room for more. Call or email me if you’re interested in sponsoring.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t do a quick recap of interesting news I have failed to blog about the past 5-6 weeks. Do you see how MedImmune scored $93M in a patent infringement settlement over Synagis, the product produced in Frederick or how BioElectronics is growing too big for their britches? I just wish I could get one of their patches locally and without a prescription.
Also worth a mention is how NCI-Frederick was named one of the Best Places to work as a PostDoc in America.
And the BIG news, which I should have already blogged about, is long-time Biobeers sponsor and advocate, FiberCell Systems being awarded a MIPS Grant for $263K. I even get to be quoted in the article. Johnand I have been working on a seperate project we call the “FiberCell Stem Cell Initiative” for more than two years now. Although it’s not directly related to the MIPS grant, the grant is for a Large Scale system, I am glad to see FiberCell get a grant to help them keep moving in the right direction.
Posted in Awards and recognition, BioBeer, Business, Expansion, Funding Available, Government Funded research, News, Public/Private Companies, Rants | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim H on February 14, 2011
As if I haven’t pestered you all anough already BioBeers is this Friday at ImQuest Biosciences Friday February 18th starting at 4:30 PM. I am getting Ribs from RibCity, so please do RSVP so I can get the right amount. RSVP’s trickling in thus far and I am giving you multiple choices. You can RSVP by emailing me, leaving a comment or go on the MeetUp or LinkedIn sites (both require FREE registration). Badger, badger as in “Her hungry fingers tore at my shirt buttons like wild badgers” (a hilarious episode of Prairie Home Companion I listened to on the way back from Fredericksburg VA last week http://is.gd/UWzJWF can’t help it that I am a radio junkie).
Speaking of Badgers, Akonni was in the news this week for signing a licensing agreement with USAMRIID which covers covers nucleic acid sequences, primers, and probes that will serve as the basis for multiplexed molecular tests for Bacillus anthracis, vaccinia/orthopox virus, Yersinia pestis, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. How neat is that?
Speaking of neat stuff, you all may know that I have been working on an inexpensive, hand held thermocycler (LavaAmp). Well, so compatriots of ours, Tito Janokoswski and crew with pearl biotech, have released a DIY $500 thermocycler. It’s based on the standard tube format PCR in aluminum block, so I don’t consider this a threat at all to our low resource, low power, portable device, but cool news nonetheless out of the DIYBio guys. They also have the Open Gel Box, which I contributed to. Keep it up!
So back to FredCoBio and stuff happening here BioElectronics is poised for huge growth. I know I haven’t blogged about them in a while, but their patch works and it’s not expensive and it’s really the only thing out there. I think it’s awesome!!
Posted in Academia, Awards and recognition, BioBeer, bizzare, Business, Events, Funny, General, Government Funded research, LavaAmp, Molecular Biology, Public/Private Companies, Rants | 1 Comment »
Posted by Jim H on February 7, 2011
Well, OK, it’s really about BioBeers more so than mosquitoes. A friendly reminder, BioBeers at ImQuest Biosciences a week from Friday, Friday February 18th starting at 4:30 PM. I am getting Ribs from RibCity, so if you want some, you should RSVP so I can get the right amount. RSVP’s trickling in thus far and I am giving you multiple choices. You can RSVP by emailing me, leaving a comment or go on the MeetUp or LinkedIn sites (both require FREE registration). And speaking of Spring, we’re in the earl phases of planning a “Ignite Frederick Biotech” session coincident with the Ft Detrick Spring Festival in May, so stay tuned for more details. In the the mean time, not time like the present to read up on those pesky mosquitoes. A good story about scientists working at Ft Detrick who were recently recognized for their contribution to trapping the little buggers, specifically to attenuate infestations in Malaysia causing Dengue fever. Not sure if they are working with the guys who created genetically modified, sterile males for the same purpose, but makes for interesting scientific fodder. Almost as interesting as the tests done at Ft Detrick to prove that some nutter in Ohio made Ricin in his garage from instructions and materials he bought on the internet. Makes you think. Scientific literacy is a good thing, most of the time. Which reminds me, I owe our informed readers a post on the ludicrous accusations about “Cancer Clusters” around the Fort. I’ll save that rant for later…
Posted in Awards and recognition, BioBeer, bizzare, Government Funded research, News, Public/Private Companies | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim H on November 30, 2010
Some of you may know that I have been busy doing contract work at MedImmune for the past 14 months or so at the Frederick facility. Well that contract came to a close, but I was picked up by another contractor, Raland Technologies, to work on a different project for MedImmune at their Philadelphia facilities. So, sadly, I won’t be in Frederick as much as I’d like to, but you’ll still hear from me. I am the first official Biotech Ambassador for the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, after all. And even though Raland runs their Maryland operations out of Montgomery County, they also have a major presence in my home town Rochester, NY. Raland made a major announcement just a couple of weeks ago when Raland announced they were awarded grant through the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Program (QTDP) for their extraordinary development efforts with RxFusion™ , a medical device offering an easier and safer home infusion treatment. I am glad to be a part of their team.
Speaking of major news from Frederick County Biotech, I noted an article in Nature titled “Complex synthesis yields breast-cancer therapy” on my RSS feed yesterday. This is cool in a number of respects. First, coincident with the synthesis of this compound, researchers in Frederick at NCI discovered the compound inhibits a protein component of
The drug eribulin was inspired by a compound from the sea sponge Halichondria okadai. Nature: Yasunori Saito
the cytoskeleton, called tubulin, that is needed to support the rapid growth of cancer cells and is the target of several other cancer chemotherapies, including Taxol (paclitaxel). Second, I spent two weeks in Seattle at the University of Washington round about 1991 working in the lab of future Nobel Laureate Eddy Krebs isolating Okadaic acid (a prolific and potent protein phosphorylator) from this very same species of sea sponge. And what a stinking *effen* mess it was. Let me tell you, if you drag a few kilos of fresh halichondria from deep off the floor of the Pacific, mix it with 20 L or so of Chloroform in a jumbo Warning blender, then extract with 20 L Methanol (all of this in 1991 was done in buckets, on the floor, without any special lab gear like safety glasses or lab coats or Kevlar) while trying not to contaminate my lab partner Joel’s working on this new product he called “Lipofectamine” (which was indeed a multi million dollar product and I think continues to be to this day) because this was going to be the first million dollar product for the newly formed Cell Biology group of Life Technologies. Those were the days.
But I digress in my fond recollections of past glory. What I really, really want to do is to let you know the next Biobeers is almost certainly happening Friday December 17th at Lab Recyclers warehouse on Metropolitan Court (right next to FITCI). And I really, really need everyone to switch over to the new MeetUp site and register. Go here now: http://www.meetup.com/FredCoBio-BioBeers/
MeetUp costs me about $10 per month, but it’s much better as compared to LinkedIn (which I will continue to maintain, just not set up events and calendar items through that site) for posting news and information and events. I’m trying this as a platform to try to connect us more better than we are today. I’ve started populating the site with the various and sundry seminars happening at Ft Detrick which are freaking free and open to the public!! I’m still working on getting the MeetUp site to link to Ft Detrick web site, but it’s all good.
I’ll have the BioBeers posted on both LinkedIn and MeetUp for the next couple of events, but will force y’all over to MeetUp eventually. Besides, my text file mailing list is getting way too long.
Posted in Awards and recognition, BioBeer, Biochemistry, Business, Funding Available, Government Funded research, Jobs, News, Public/Private Companies, Rants | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim H on November 9, 2010
It has been a pretty good year in Fredcobio, I am glad to say, and the end of the year is ramping up to be amazing. Many of you know that I have been working a contract with MedImmune assisting in the validation of the new Frederick Manufacturing Center. That contract ended suddenly 9although it was expected) last week, so now I am back wheeling and dealing and looking at what I am going to do next.
I’ve been neglecting my two start-ups and building on my recent, newly elected status as the
Grand Poobah of Biotech in Frederick first official Biotech Ambassador of the Frederick Chamber of Commerce (which I announced at the last Biobeers). As such, we’ve had a couple of very preliminary meetings with interested parties from the Chamber, OED, FITCI, the City of Frederick and a few other interested partners and I think there are a lot of good things we can do together. Most of these ideas, these delusions of grandeur are just that: ideas. We need to transform our ideas into action and start getting some stuff done.
What do I mean by that? First of all, everyone wants more information about things like funding and where to get it and how much is available, but we also need to start talking more with each other. There are over 50 biotech companies or quasi-government (even “real government”) agencies in Frederick County and we don’t even know what we all do for a living. I’m talking about better networking and business and commerce between just the local companies. Well, that’s a start. What we really need to do is communicate with all of the people at NCI and the various and sun-dried agencies behind the barbed wire fence that is Ft Detrick and find out what they’re doing. Speaking of which, a couple of very newsworth things have popped up on my radar screen over the past couple of days.
One of them is an excellent resource I’ll bet no one is even paying attention to off base, and we should be: Free Lectures at Ft Detrick by various agencies. You can find the whole calendar here: http://is.gd/gS3wv
I used to try to post them, but got tired of doing that and I don’t even think anyone was watching. But as a “for example”, there are at least three different lecture series going on now, the one called CCR Grand Rounds is hosting a lecture Tuesday 11/23 by Frederick R. Appelbaum, M.D. who is the Director, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center entitled “The Grand Challenges of Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.” How cool does that sound? And did I mention it’s free? Well, not exactly free. I bet some of our tax money is being used somehow. All of the details are here: http://is.gd/gS483
Ansd another thing I thought was interesting, passed along by Frank at SAIC-Frederick is this list of qualifying ”Therapeutic Discovery Project Grants” for the State of Maryland from IRS.gov. The list is pretty long, but I think you’ll recognize for names familiar to Fredcobio such as ImQuest, Akonni, BioElectronics and BioAssay Works. Over $48MM in grants awarded to Maryland over the past 2 years, just on this “qualifying” delineation. My memory tells me more than $1.5BB is being spent at Ft Detrick alone this year (a lot of bricks and mortar as well as research).
I almost forgot to mention the next BioBeers date is set: Friday December 10th. I’m going to be improving the blog and likely moving our LinkedIn and Google groups over to a MeetUp platform in the coming weeks. So stay tuned, Fredcobio campers.
Posted in Academia, Awards and recognition, BioBeer, Business, Funding Available, General, Government Funded research, Jobs, News, Public/Private Companies, Rants, Rumors, Stem Cells | 1 Comment »
Posted by Jim H on October 31, 2010
I am always amazed at the breadth and depth of scientific research going down in our own back yard. I bet you didn’t know that this 2007 paper in Science was partially done in Frederick: The Near Eastern Origin of Cat Domestication
A few weeks back I went to Olive’s, on a whim, and ended up chatting with this cat Carlos who works at the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at NCI over a martini or two. Fascinating stuff. The research shows that wildcats (Felis silvestris) were initially domesticated in the Near East, probably coincident with agricultural village development in the Fertile Crescent. Interestingly, cats differ from other domesticated animals in that they seem to provide no real benefit to humans aside from catching rodents in the early grain stores & companionship.
The Science text is a very detailed technical account and is followed up with a more elaborate, “scientifically toned down” article in the June 2009 edition of Scientific American.
Some conclusions of this article
Unlike other domesticated creatures, the house cat contributes little to human survival. Researchers have therefore wondered how and why cats came to live among people.
Experts traditionally thought that the Egyptians were the first to domesticate the cat, some 3,600 years ago. But recent genetic and archaeological discoveries indicate that cat domestication began in the Fertile Crescent, perhaps around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was getting under way.
The findings suggest that cats started making themselves at home around people to take advantage of the mice and food scraps found in their settlements.
In an article published in PNAS in 2009, the authors delve into the differences between Natural vs. Artificial Selection. Interesting stuff:
We perceive today, as did Darwin, that natural selection is the environmentally driven mechanistic process by which more advantageous traits are, on the whole, passed on to succeeding generations more often than less advantageous traits because of differential reproduction of the individuals possessing them. Sexual selection is a natural process of intraspecific competition for mating rights. Artificial selection, generally the motive force behind domestication, is often equated with selective breeding. This often amounts to prezygotic selection (where mates are chosen by humans) versus postzygotic selection (where the most fit progeny reproduce differentially) as in natural selection. Although natural selection plays a considerable role in the evolution of many traits (e.g., disease resistance) during the animal domestication process, sexual selection is effectively trumped by the human-imposed arrangements of matings and often by the human desire for particular secondary sexual characters. Artificial selection is a conscious, if unintentional, process, and therefore is generally considered to be effected only by humans.
This is exactly the kind of research we’re doing at Ft Detrick that I think would be brilliant to get out to people by a yet to be established mechanism. I wonder if The various agency “partners” at Ft Detrick even track this stuff?
Posted in Academia, General Biology, Genetics, Government Funded research, Molecular Biology, News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Jim H on February 4, 2010
As you may already be aware, one of the primary reasons the National Cancer Institute is building the new Riverside Research Park is to provide space for “synergistic partners” from academia and Industry to work together to cure cancer. I was just alerted to several new opportunities by my friends at FITCI
A new collaboration opportunity, “Gene Expression Signature Predictive of Response to Chemotherapy” has been added to the NCI Technology Transfer Center web site. Please go to: http://ttc.nci.nih.gov/opportunities/opportunity.php?opp_id=1881
A new collaboration opportunity, “Antibody and Immunotoxin Treatments for Mesothelin-Expressing Cancers” has been added to the NCI Technology Transfer Center web site. Please go to: http://ttc.nci.nih.gov/opportunities/opportunity.php?opp_id=1883
A new collaboration opportunity, “Knockdown and Enhanced Expression of P53 Isoforms to Treat Age-Related Disorders and Cancer” has been added to the NCI Technology Transfer Center web site. Please go to: http://ttc.nci.nih.gov/opportunities/opportunity.php?opp_id=1885
A new collaboration opportunity, “Engineered Biological Pacemakers” has been added to the NCI Technology Transfer Center web site. Please go to: http://ttc.nci.nih.gov/opportunities/opportunity.php?opp_id=1884
A new collaboration opportunity, “Novel Kinase Inhibitors Targeting the PH Domain of AKT for Preventing and Treating Cancer” has been added to the NCI Technology Transfer Center web site. Please go to: http://ttc.nci.nih.gov/opportunities/opportunity.php?opp_id=1882
Posted in Biochemistry, Funding Available, Government Funded research, Molecular Biology | 1 Comment »