March 2013 Newsletter

March 2013 Newsletter

 

Upcoming Events

There are a few upcoming events on the Vermont Biosciences Alliance calendar. Consider putting them on your calendar too:

beer tinyBio Beer in Montpelier

Friday March 15, 4:30–6:30 pm, Main Street Grill (NECI), downstairs bar
Network and unwind with your colleagues in the Vermont bioscience arena. We’re hoping that moving the get-together to Montpelier will make it easier for non-Burlington folks to attend this very informal event.

Annual Member Meeting

March 20, 3:30–5 pm, Vermont Chamber of Commerce, 751 Granger Road, Berlin (technically Barre)
We encourage all VBSA members to attend the annual meeting. The agenda will include typical board business, plus we will elect officers and discuss our 2013 program. According to our by-laws, business and education members have voting privileges.
Officer candidates are nominated by the Board of Directors. If you would like to be considered as an officer or board member, please contact Susan Fayette.

Vermont I2V Conference

April 4, 1:30–4:30, reception to follow, Davis Center, UVM Campus, Burlington
UVM’s Office of Technology Commercialization, the Vermont Technology Council and the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies present the 2013 Invention to Venture (I2V) conference. The annual Vermont I2V Conference is a leading event that pulls together academic researchers, students, entrepreneurs and business leaders from across Vermont and from several colleges and universities. This will be the 8th year for this half-day conference, and it will feature a new, interactive format of ten roundtable discussion topics, designed to increase networking and discussion. Attendees can choose three topics when registering. Rich Tarrant Jr., of MyWebGrocer will be the keynote speaker and the networking event will be followed by a reception.

From the Board Chair

This year several initiatives in the State deserve the attention of the Vermont Biosciences Alliance (VBSA). First, Governor Shumlin has agreed with the bioscience community that the state needs more employees with STEM backgrounds. Many companies have expressed concern that growth is limited by the lack of talented, science-trained people in the State. The state also is committed to providing increased funding for the University of Vermont.

Second, new workforce initiatives in Vermont are focused on science training for the proposed AnC Bio facility in Newport. I believe that we can provide important resources and experience for biotechnical training throughout the State in addition to the need in Newport. I hope we have the opportunity to meet with the Tech Centers to share our skills and knowledge. The Vermont Technology Council has also released a plan outlining 7 strategic steps for guiding the accelerated growth of science- and technology-based companies. By combining our efforts―the VBSA, the Vermont Technology Council, and the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center―can insure a solid pipeline of trained, job-ready workers as our industry grows.
A third initiative is the release of the Library Services and Technology Act: Five-Year State Plan (2013-2017) by the Vermont Department of Libraries. The VBSA board continues to explore ways to help make scientific literature more available to members. Our competitiveness depends on our ability to read the literature and use new knowledge to create value. We are hopeful that the Department of Libraries can help us.
Finally, we recognize the importance to our industry of access to a world-class research university―principally, the University of Vermont, our state institution. John Evans, a long-time supporter of the Biosciences Alliance, has an active role at the University to commercialize new discoveries and facilitate dialog and collaboration between UVM and industry scientists and leaders. I anticipate a discussion this year with members and John about specific opportunities, and steps to take, to strengthen the relationship between the University and Vermont’s bioscience companies. Both are stakeholders in the serious problems facing university research enterprises in the immediate future. We believe that bioscience research, education, and discovery can have a positive impact in Vermont and that realizing the full impact comes from working together. Stay tuned.
I hope to see some of you at our Annual Meeting on March 20th, at 3:30 pm at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce Office, near Berlin.
Thanks to all our members who share their time and resources with the Vermont Biosciences Alliance. I look forward to a successful program this year on your behalf.

Bill Church, Interim Chair, VBSA Board of Directors

Join the VBSA

If you are interested in bioscience entrepreneurship in Vermont, join the Vermont Biosciences Alliance. Expand your professional network and keep current on news and opportunities in bioscience right here in Vermont. Joining the VBSA also sends a message of support for Vermont bioscience companies and organizations. Membership is free for students of all levels and teachers at the elementary and high school level.

Our mission is to connect people who work in or support the biosciences industry in Vermont. We believe that our industry is an important one for Vermont, bringing high-paying jobs, advancing science and medicine, and minimally impacting the environment.

Check our website for more on the benefits of joining the VBSA and to sign up.

THANK YOU to our Renewing Members

We’re moving from being an entirely sponsored organization to one that includes paid memberships as well. We believe that it is the best way to insure that the VBSA represents all the bioscience constituents throughout the state.

To the businesses and organizations who have recently renewed their membership—Thank you for supporting the bioscience industry in Vermont.

Big thanks as well to our sponsoring organizations.

Member Spotlight

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences & St. Michael’s College

Robert Hamilton

Robert Hamilton, ACPHS-VT

Declan McCabe

Declan McCabe, St. Michael’s College

Everyone in the Vermont bioscience community agrees that having a strong academic component is key in building the industry in Vermont. In fact, in our last newsletter, Thom Grace of Bia Diagnostics cited the proximity of UVM as an important benefit of his company’s downtown Burlington location. Fostering close connections between the commercial and academic bioscience communities in Vermont is one of the goals of the Vermont Biosciences Alliance (VBSA). For this newsletter we talked with representatives from two academic member organizations, Robert Hamilton (RH), Associate Dean for the Vermont Campus, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Declan McCabe (DM), Associate Professor of Biology, St. Michael’s College. Following is a synopsis of our conversation.

VBSA: Why has your school supported the Vermont Biosciences Alliance (VBSA)?

RH: The college is interested in the biological sciences, and altruistically we saw the VBSA as a good thing to support— an organization we’d like to see go forward. That was our initial thinking. Subsequently we have found that contacts we’ve made through the VBSA have provided opportunities for our students to learn about biological research career paths through internships. A lot of students come to pharmacy school thinking that, once they obtain their degree, they’ll be trained for a career as the person they see behind the counter at their local chain pharmacy. Connections with VBSA members can help our students understand that there are many more-unusual career paths open to them when they finish school.

DM: We’re directly interested in opportunities for students in Vermont, both internships and local jobs when they graduate. We work with Vermont EPSCoR as well, and one of the main priorities is to provide STEM opportunities in Vermont—high quality, high paying jobs. That only works if we have made connections with students who are qualified for those jobs. So it’s a synergistic relationship, with educators supplying a well qualified workforce and employers providing opportunity. We need both to create and keep jobs in Vermont.

VBSA: How does membership in the VBSA helps your school further its goals?

RH: Our students must complete several 6-week advanced pharmacy practice experiences. I have made contacts through the VBSA that have directly led to student experiences. However, I think the VBSA can offer not just opportunities for these short internships, but also opportunities for our students to see where they can go with their degree. Internships may not immediately lead to a job offer after graduation, which is what students may think. But they can help students understand the breadth of the application of their degrees and also what they find interesting in terms of a career. The outcome of our students’ internship experiences is sometimes surprising and intriguing.

DM: Personal connections are important. I think, traditionally, business people do better with networking than scientists, but scientists need to get on board and students need to appreciate the importance of networking. What you know certainly qualifies you for a job, but who you know and what contacts you’ve made ultimately get you the job offer. For us it’s about making those connections and showing students that they need to make connections too.
I also think it’s important for students to interact with people from outside academia. They meet a lot of academics and are exposed to a particular world view from that set of interactions. But they also need to meet people who are actually doing applied science—for example producing a product or delivering a service. There is a limited list of things that an academic can expose students to, just because of the limitations of a college setting. For example its wonderful to teach a student about spectroscopy using a spec 20. It’s a really simple machine, you can see and understand exactly how it works. But in an industrial setting, where you’ve got all the samplers and sippers feeding a big expensive instrument—that is a different experience, one that a college typically wouldn’t provide. Students need internships to really see the applicability of what they’ve learned.

VBSA: How are you hoping your organization will benefit from VBSA membership in the future.

DM: I’m sort of tunnel-visioned into the internship piece. Most of my interactions have been with a single company. I would like to expand that see what other opportunities might be available.
We had a pretty good event a couple of years ago, where the VBSA came to St. Michael’s campus. It would be worthwhile to have that type of event again, I’m sure the biology faculty would be interested in that, and the VP of academic affairs is excited about any connections we can make with the community.
We’re very happy to continue working with you guys and appreciate all the opportunities.

RH: We see the VBSA as a resource for our faculty researchers to make some contacts that might be useful in their scholarship. We also want to maintain and expand connections that could yield student opportunities to explore “non-traditional” opportunities for pharmacy careers.

Industry News

VT EPSCoR Funding OpportunitiesVT Epscor logo

The Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VT EPSCoR) is pleased to provide two funding opportunities with awards of up to $15,000 to Vermont based businesses.
Questions? Email epscor@uvm.edu or phone 802.656.7931

SBIR Phase (0)

Competitive awards of up to $15,000
The main goal of the Vermont ESPCoR Phase (0) solicitation is to identify proposals that show promise for success in federal SBIR competitions and that would benefit from financial support and reviewer comments. As such, each proposal should identify at least one federal SBIR program to which the work is targeted.
Deadline: May 1, 2013
Review the submission guidelines and get your application started.

Use of Facilities for Private Sector

Competitive awards of up to $5,000
This program provides the opportunity for Vermont small businesses to compete for grants to use facilities at the University of Vermont (UVM) to collect the data necessary for the submission of Phase (I) and Phase (II) federal grants. There must be a federal SBIR program to which the work is eventually targeted. Vermont EPSCoR’s intent is to identify those SBIR ideas that need additional data for applications at the Phase (I) and Phase (II) level.
Rolling Deadline: Submit a proposal at any time
Review the submission guidelines.

Vermont Brain Bee Showcases High Schoolers’ Understanding of Neuroscience

Brain BeeThirty students representing Vermont eight high schools participated in the fourth annual Vermont Brain Bee on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. The event included written, practical and oral examinations, as well as a keynote lecture and neuroscience student discussion panel. For the first time, all of the Brain Bee participants qualified for the final rounds of the competition.
Nora Enright, a sophomore from Otter Valley Union High School, clinched first place and was awarded funding to compete in the National Brain Bee in Baltimore. Second place and third place went to Gabriel Peck Frame, a senior from Champlain Valley Union High School, and John Mlcuch, a senior from Mount Abraham Union High School.
The 2013 Vermont Brain Bee was co-presented by the Vermont Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience and the Neuroscience, Behavior and Health Initiative at UVM.
Learn more about the Vermont Brain Bee and view footage of the event from WCAX.

[Photo © Copyright 2001-2003 WCAX. All Rights Reserved]

ACPHS-Vermont Faculty Member Receives $353,400 Grant for Leukemia Research

Karen Glass, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Vermont Campus, has been awarded a three-year NIH research grant totaling $353,400. Her research is aimed at identifying new ways to prevent and treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). “There is no single factor, but rather a series of events, which leads to a disease such as AML,” said Dr. Glass. “If we can better understand the basic mechanisms controlling gene expression and how chromosomal translocations lead to AML and other cancers, then we will be able to diagnose and treat AML patients more effectively. We may also be able to apply this knowledge in the treatment of other cancers and diseases.”
Read the full press release.
Learn more about Karen Glass’ research.