2021 – Past BioBuzz Award Winners: Where are they now?

As nominations roll in for our 2023 Annual Awards, we to take a look back. See where our 2020 Winners Are Now and keep reading for 2021’s.

By Kaden Hoffman | October 25, 2023

BioBuzz has been building life science communities for 14 years because we believe in the power of personal networks to unlock your career potential. For our next chapter, we’re building upon the success of our community to help solve today’s greatest challenges in hiring and career development. There is a better, more equitable way to connect talent with opportunity… and we’re building it.

Community Builder Award: Amritha Jaishankar

In 2020, Jaishankar’s work with the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF) and their Accelerating Cures Initiative, where she helped to create the BHCR’s flourishing stem cell community, made her one of the most influential women in the BHCR. She has since moved on from the MSCRF to become Executive Director of the Cell and Gene Therapy Center at IQVIA, a 2023 Fortune 500 company. At IQVIA, she continues to push the development of the biotech industry by accelerating the preclinical/clinical development and commercialization of gene/cell therapies and regenerative medicine treatments. 

John Holaday BioHealth Leadership Award: Doug Doerfler – Maxcyte

From building up his electroporation company Maxycte to a listing on the NASDAQ and the London Stock Exchange to serving in executive positions for a variety of biotech organizations in the BHCR, Doerfler has exemplified leadership throughout his career, leading to his win in 2021. Today, Doerfler continues to serve as the CEO of Maxcyte and occupies executive positions in the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Maryland Tech Council, and the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine. Doerfler has continued to build Maxcyte into a player in the biotech industry, including the launch of their VLxTM protein production system in 2022. 

BioBuzz Media Award: “It’s Better Here” – Maryland Life Sciences

This newsletter campaign from Maryland Life Sciences took the region by storm in late 2020, intending to show the world why the BHCR is the premier place to work in the life sciences industry. Maryland Life Science has since lived up to this goal, delivering articles on many of the major biotech companies in the region, including Kite, Maxcyte, GlaxoSmithKline, Azzur Group, and many more, truly showing the world what the BHCR has to offer to the life science industry.

Workforce Champion of the Year Award: Kite Pharma 

Kite Pharma won this award for their Apprenticeship Program with Hood College and Fredrick Community College to better train a cell therapy workforce in Fredrick, Maryland. Kite continues this partnership today and “is actively engaged in curriculum development with Hood College and has provided subject matter expertise for a new course that launched in Spring 2023, Cell Therapy 101. ” according to Naren Kadaba, VP Manufacturing Operations and Site Head at Kite Pharma.

Their partnership with Fredrick Community College also gives “a college undergraduate the opportunity to work as a full-time Kite employee with benefits while going to school either part-time or full-time and getting their tuition covered by Kite” as explained by Kadaba. Both of these partnerships offer incredible opportunities to students, while also strengthening the cell therapy workforce, a true win-win.

Kite is currently a leader in research on the potential use of cell therapy as a treatment and cure for cancer. In 2022, the FDA approved their product Yescarta® as the first CAR T-cell therapy for use as an initial treatment for relapsed or refractory large B-cell Lymphoma. Kite also acquired Philadelphia-based cell therapy company Tmunity in late 2022, bolstering their CAR-T therapy capabilities.

COVID-19 Impact Award: Ellume

Ellume Health had a global impact on the COVID-19 response in 2021 by developing products such as at-home tests and diagnostics. The Australian company also had a local effect on the BHCR by investing $16 million into a manufacturing facility in Fredrick, Maryland. Ellume remains a leader in the infectious-disease diagnostics industry, with their unique detection devices allowing for test results to be shared with employers, the CDC, healthcare professionals, etc., allowing for effective and quick mapping for diseases such as influenza and COVID-19.

Breakthrough Life Science Company of the Year Award: Adaptive Phage Therapeutics (APT)

APT, located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, broke into the scene in late 2020 and early 2021 with their PhageBankTM therapy to treat multi-drug resistant infections with bacteriophages. They have since built off of this momentum, announcing the first patients being dosed in their clinical trials on the effectiveness of PhageBankTM on Diabetic Foot Osteomyelitis in 2022 and in Cystic Fibrosis-related Respiratory Infection in early 2023. APT also announced a unique challenge in 2022, offering to pay $1000 to anyone who could find a Bacteria resistant to the entirety of their PhageBankTM. APT currently controls the largest therapeutic phage library initiative in the world.

Employer of the Year Award: Novavax

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Novavax was one of the contenders in finding a vaccine. In response to this challenge, Novavax rapidly scaled its operation, using its new SuperNova employer branding, an initiative strong enough to win this award. 

When Novavax won this award, their COVID-19 vaccine was in late-stage clinical trials. However, the vaccine wasn’t authorized for use until July 2022 due to production and manufacturing delays, over a year after Pfizer and Moderna had already established their vaccines. With this delay, the ending of the Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 in the US, and the government’s decision to end its agreement with NovaVax at the end of 2023, NovaVax faces an uncertain financial future. Novavax currently undergoes clinical trials on COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines, in addition to a malaria vaccine.