Category Archives: burnham

BioFlorida Conference

medtechthursday
Guest Post by:
Mike Schmitt, MD
Life Science Analyst and Editor of the Florida BioDatabase
Mike can be reached at [email protected]

For those involved in the Florida life science industry, if you are looking to “see and be seen”, the annual BioFlorida conference is THE place. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this years event, held on Amelia Island at the Ritz Carlton on October 19-21.

BioFlorida is the statewide trade association for the bioscience industry and provides networking opportunities, statewide industry events, educational forums and a variety of support services to biomedical companies as well as to investors, government entities, academia, tech transfer and workforce development groups.

The conference attracted over 400 attendees from not only Florida, but from throughout the Southeast and US as well. The roster of keynote speakers was impressive and included some life science “heavy hitters” including:

This years program focused on a diverse range of topics that included but was not limited to the following: early and late stage funding issues, the relevance of IPOs in today’s marketplace (difficult at best), drug discovery, marketing as a decision tool for your company, device technologies, controlling rising healthcare costs along with “a vision” for biotech innovation.

This event is certainly one of the best networking opportunities to “meet & greet” all the movers and shakers involved in the Florida life science scene. I did hear from Patti Breedlove, Associate Director of the University of Florida Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator who said, “ A small dinner hosted by the Burnham Institute gave me a chance to talk to the key Burnham people as well as the head of Max Planck Florida Institute about UF’s Biotechnology Incubator along with the Florida BioDatabase and how it can be effectively utilized to develop our life science industry.”

Hopefully, I’ll make it to the conference in 2009…

Burnham Institute

medtechthursday
Guest Post by:
Mike Schmitt, MD
Life Science Analyst and Editor of the Florida BioDatabase
Mike can be reached at [email protected]
As a follow up to last week’s post (Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment) I wanted to mention that the meeting gave me a chance to meet some of the Florida Burnham staff and get acquainted with the Institute’s activities in Central Florida.

One of the first people that I met at the conference was Greg Roth, Ph.D., director of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology.  If Greg is any indication of the Burnham staff, then the Institute is off to an excellent start.  Greg is bright and outgoing and makes you feel instantly at ease.  It also turned out that we had some “geography” in common as we both have connections to western upstate New York.

For those of you not familiar with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research (www.burnham.org), it is a world class research center originally based out of La Jolla, California with over 600 scientists on staff on the west coast. (Yes, this is where the Scripps Institute is from as well…Florida is finally being discovered as a destination for activities other than Disney, fishing and swimming with the dolphins.)

Burnham is one of the top 10 research centers in receiving grant funding (ranked #4 in 2006) and was recently awarded a $97.9 M NIH grant to expand their Small-Molecule Screening and Discovery Center.

The Institute is committed to both basic science as well as translational research—which brings the results of scientific work done in the laboratory to be used to develop new ways to diagnose and treat a variety of diseases.

They are currently located in a temporary 14,000 square foot space in southwest Orlando, but plan to open a 175,000 square foot facility in mid-2009 in the Orlando Lake Nona medical research campus (located between the Orlando International Airport and the University of Central Florida in southeast Orlando). They are a key part of the expansion of the Florida life science industry as they will ultimately employ over 300 people in our State to be involved in various aspects of cutting edge biomedical research.

Some of this excitement is evident as the Burnham website (www.burnham.org) contains the following quote, “Prior to Burnham’s commitment, we had five or six inquiries from biomedical companies,” says John Fremstad, Vice President of Technology Development for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC). “We’ve had more than 100 since.”

For interested Gator fans, I also hear that UF will be doing a collaborative partnership with Burnham and hopes to have a presence on the Lake Nona campus.

It’s great to see that the State of Florida is continuing to establish its “life science” brand!

Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment

medtechthursday
Guest Post by: 
Mike Schmitt, MD
Life Science Analyst and Editor of the Florida BioDatabase
Mike can be reached at [email protected]
 
On Wednesday, September 10th, I had the opportunity to attend the Foley Lardner Leadership Education Series in Orlando. It was held in the law firm’s board room on the 18th floor of the Regions Bank building with breathtaking views of downtown—it was nice to see first hand the amazing economic development taking place in the metro Orlando area.
The conference was an update on treatments for neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc) presented by Stuart Lipton, MD., PhD, who is the Director of the Burnham Institute’s Center for Neuroscience Research in La Jolla, California. 
Dr. Lipton presented some cutting-edge data on how a drug that he has already developed (Memantine) may be useful for not only treating existing Alzheimer’s disease, but for preventing it in high-risk individuals. The drug is FDA approved (has relatively minimal side effects) and is currently on the market. Dr. Lipton is hoping it gains wider usage among the neurology community to benefit Alzheimer’s patients.
Dr. Lipton indicated that if left unstopped, dementia-related diseases will consume over half of the US GNP by 2050. I think this reflects on not only our aging population, but on the ever-increasing costs of health care as well (good topic for another post).
I’ll remind folks that Dan mentioned the upcoming Alzheimer’s Memory Walk event in his blog on August 7th—be sure to take a look at the link as this is an awesome event to raise awareness of this disabling illness. In fact, the Gainesville “Walk” will be taking place on 10/4, Jacksonville on 9/20, and Orlando on 10/11.
On another note of importance to Florida life sciences—Ed Baxa, partner and member of Foley’s Management Committee, and chair of the firm’s National Pro Bono Committee announced that the firm will be contributing pro bono legal services (IP, regulatory, health law, etc.) relating to the development of therapies in the “orphan drug” space. The term “orphan drug” refers to a product that treats a rare disease affecting fewer than 200,000 Americans. Pharma companies are often reluctant to take on these illnesses as they perceive the potential market as being too small to justify R&D costs.
These services will be offered primarily to Burnham, university programs, and other non-profit 501(c)(3)’s. Thanks goes out to Foley Lardner’s commitment to being involved in our biomedical community on a research level as well as for patient care.