Announcing Finalists for 1st Annual BioBuzz Awards

This year, more than ever before, we’ve seen just how important it is for us all to stay connected and work together to build a stronger biotech ecosystem. In the face of great adversity, the biotech community has risen to the challenge and formed new collaborations and partnerships to innovate and rapidly develop new medicines and tools to help us beat this pandemic. 

That’s why we decided that this year was the right time to launch the first annual BioBuzz Awards.  This is an opportunity for us all to revisit the accomplishments of the past year and recognize the leaders and companies in the region who are doing great things to make an impact on human health and build a stronger BioHealth Capital Region across Maryland, DC, and Virginia.

We also decided that the winners will be chosen by YOU.  Since each and every person plays an important role in what makes this biohealth community so great, we felt that the community should decide on who is most deserving of these recognitions.  We hope you’ll take the time to make your vote count.

After receiving almost 100 nominations from our sponsors, advertisers, and regional partners and spending many hours evaluating them with our editorial team, we came to one conclusion. There is absolutely no shortage of amazing people and companies in the BHCR.  The people in this region are working towards things that will change the world, and that’s not an exaggeration.

We are humbled and honored to be a herald for the work taking place here and to share your stories with the community.  So, we are excited to announce the finalists for the following seven annual BioBuzz Awards; the BioBuzz Media Award, Community Builder Award, Workforce Champion Award, the John Holaday Biohealth Leadership Award, Breakthrough Life Science Company of the Year, the Employer of the Year, and the COVID-19 Impact Award.

Please congratulate the finalists and be sure to cast your votes. 

BioBuzz Media Award 

This award honors a media campaign that most aligns with our mission; ‘to create exceptional experiences that better connect people and employers and foster a stronger regional ecosystem.’  It recognizes the media campaigns or platforms that have successfully engaged, informed, and connected people and reflect favorably on the BHCR.  Eligible nominations may include social media, podcasts, video series, blog series, event or webinar series, and other advertising, marketing, and public relations campaigns. Nominees should be selected based on the strategic approach, quality, and results achieved.

Finalists

BioTalk Podcast

The BioTalk Podcast, launched in 2017, is hosted by BioHealth Innovation (BHI) President & CEO Rich Bendis and produced by Andy Eckert. It is the first and only podcast that is focused on the BioHealth Capital Region(BHCR). The podcast has recorded over 70 episodes featuring local executives and industry leaders as guests, including BHCR Forum participants and Biohealth Capital Region Investment Conference participants. Prominent guests include Sally Mossman, VP, Vaccines R&D, and Head Discovery Performance Unit at GSK, Emergent BioSolutions President and CEO, Bob Kramer, and MaxCyte Founder, President, and CEO Doug Doerfler.  

The podcast puts a spotlight on the people, companies, and initiatives happening across the BHCR to raise awareness locally and showcase to the world why this is one of the top regional biotech clusters in the US; #4 on the annual GEN Rankings.  BioTalk enables you to learn from these leaders about issues that can help you grow your business. What are the current trends? Where are industry sectors headed? How do we increase access to capital in our region? Rich and his guests dive deep into these topics and much more. Host Rich Bendis is an entrepreneur, corporate executive, venture capitalist, investment banker, innovation and technology-based economic development leader, international speaker, and consultant in the technology and BioHealth industries.

Wanna Go Wednesdays – Jacob Greenwood

The first #WannaGoWednesday was posted on April 24, 2019. Its purpose was to promote upcoming events in the Biohealth Capital Region.  Promoted via a LinkedIn video every Wednesday, the mission of this campaign was stated right up front, “The idea is to create a little excitement, get people out of the house, do some face-to-face networking, and really just support the overall ecosystem here in the area.”  While the videos have evolved, and the thought of face-to-face interaction will never be the same, the spirit of the #WannaGoWednesday series remains unchanged. It has made a significant impact in helping people to connect.  

The goal is to help the Biohealth Capital Region continue its growth as one of the country’s premier biotechnology clusters.  “Getting in front of the camera didn’t come naturally, but it seemed like a fun way to engage the LinkedIn community and promote the events that the great people and great companies in this region work so hard to put on,” shared Jake Greenwood.  “Plus, I just flat out love going to events and meeting new people in our industry.  One day (Wednesday), it would be a thrill to see a social media feed filled with different #WannaGoWednesday posts promoting events from around the world.”  

2020 NCI & FNLCR Virtual Technology Showcase

The 4th annual National Cancer Institute and Frederick National Laboratory Technology Showcase, which went virtual this year, highlighted technologies being developed at the NCI and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL) to attract technology licensing and collaborations, startup company formation, and the translation of NCI discoveries into solutions to benefit patients. Like many others, organizers had to respond to take this event entirely virtual rapidly. Thanks to the strong collaboration between NCI, FNLCR, and Frederick city and county government, along with partner organizations such as TEDCO, FITCI, and more, all helped to make this year’s showcase a huge success. Through some creative outreach and marketing, the 2020 Technology Showcase had attendees join worldwide, including participants across the US, the UK, Switzerland, Malaysia, and Brazil.  

The program highlighted 24 technologies and developed an interest in future collaborations between NCI and FNL investigators and attendees. It also highlighted the economic development potential of Frederick County, MD to companies, showcasing the unparalleled access to NCI, FNL, Ft. Detrick; proximity to other biotech stakeholders in the region; access to local universities; and the regional programs in place to support businesses.

Community Builder Award 

This award honors someone in the region who has gone above and beyond their responsibilities to make an impact on the ecosystem by being a thoughtful community builder who fosters intentional collaborations and meaningful contributions of their time, energy, and expertise to support the biohealth community. This person is a servant leader who sees beyond their job description or the balance sheet and strives to create a rising tide for all across the BioHealth Capital Region so that we can collectively make a significant impact on public health and patients around the world.

Finalists

Judy Costello, Managing Director of Economic Development for BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI)

Judy Costello is s longtime supporter of the region’s entrepreneur and start-up communities, having previously served as Director of the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of BioHealth and Life Sciences for many years.  She also serves as the Vice President of the Maryland Business Innovation Association (MBIA). We don’t know how she does it, but there isn’t a biotech or entrepreneurial event that takes place across the region that you won’t see Judy at, which is why we often call her the “Mayor of the BHCR.”

When you meet Judy, she makes you feel like the most important person in the room and takes a sincere interest in what you are doing and how she can help you.  She is a servant leader for the regions and a dedicated connector who has your best interest in mind.  At BHI, she supports biotech industry growth through initiatives focused on expanding capital, talent, commercialization assistance, and other resources to companies, connecting innovators with resources, and promoting the industry cluster. However, BHI’s geographic footprint is broader—focused primarily on the BioHealth Capital Region (Maryland, DC, and Virginia)—and also assisting a few companies outside the area. 

Kathie Callahan Brady is the CEO, Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc

Kathie’s leadership of Frederick’s incubator, FITCI, and accelerator has contributed significantly to the success of Frederick’s growing biotech ecosystem. Kathie Callahan Brady works with many highly gifted, emerging Biotech and Technology companies to help them leverage the Frederick business community to find success. Since stepping into her role at the incubator/accelerator in 2016, FITCI has seen its client base grow 276%, now serving 51 companies. Her passion is to help owners turned around, increase profits & achieve a better quality of life. 

She has established several important programs at FITCI, including the SGAB “Strategic Growth and Advisory Boards,” as well as the Edge program – a robust 12-week community growth accelerator program designed for aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. Program participants are partnered with Entrepreneur Mentors and learn from experienced lecturers, investment teams, diverse focus groups to further solidify business plans. Now in its second year, the program is quickly becoming a viable model for other incubator programs!  Kathie’s passion for company building can be seen in the great work she has done in community building in Frederick.

Tammi Thomas, VP, Marketing & Communications at TEDCO

Tammi is the woman who is responsible for establishing TEDCO as the most recognized organization in Maryland for discovering, identifying, and growing technology-based businesses. One of the most impactful ways that she has accomplished this is through her online community building. She is a master of social media marketing strategies and has built a large following around technology innovation and commercialization in Maryland. She has nurtured a vibrant community among TEDCO’s portfolio companies, including those in the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF), through her dedication to celebrating their success, helping to increase their visibility, and fostering new connections that enable them to succeed.  The impact of her online community work can be seen through the growth of the annual Entrepreneur Expo, which has become the largest annual celebration of entrepreneurship in the region.

TEDCO - Leading Innovation to Market

As an award-winning communicator with more than 25 years of experience in marketing, technology, economic development, higher education, and entrepreneurship, Tammi has been recognized by her industry peers for excellence in communication and marketing.  She received the Maryland Economic Development Association’s Marketing award for TEDCO’s Entrepreneur Expo (2020) and the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland’s 2017 Cybersecurity Industry Resource Award, among others. She graduated from Leadership Maryland’s Class of 2018, completing the eight-month hands-on learning program focused on the State’s most vital social, economic, and environmental issues. 

Workforce Champion of the Year

The Workforce Champion Award recognizes the program or organization that has made a measurable contribution to enhancing the biotech workforce within the region. Talent is the single most important and limiting variable to a company’s success and regional economy. These nominees are recognized for their outstanding contributions and innovative approach to attracting, training, or growing the biotech workforce within the region.

Finalists

SciPhd’s ‘Flamingo’

For more than nine years, SciPhD has been training scientists who want to transition from academia to non-academic industry careers in collaboration with 120 research institutions across the US. They offer various workshops, boot camps, and certificate programs designed to offer resources and hands-on training to identify and develop communication, leadership, negotiation, team building, networking, and project management skills. Co-founders Randall Ribaudo, Ph.D., and Larry Petcovic decided it was time to innovate the program to reach more students.  The result was a new online web application that brings the SciPhD “Get That Job” experience to the desktop – Flamingo. 

The Flamingo application can help you figure out what kinds of jobs excite you, guide you in importing and analyzing job descriptions using our Job Analytics Engine to identify the critical skills, and will help create a targeted resume to help you Get That Job! After launching earlier this year, they have over 600 users who can access a lifetime subscription for one low cost. With scientific talent in great demand across the US, academic scientists will surely have a leg up after using Flamingo.

Translational Life Science Technology Program (UMBC / USG & MC)

To meet the growing demand for skilled life sciences workers in Maryland, particularly workers who graduate with real industry experience, UMBC partnered with USG and MC to offer the TLST program, leading to a bachelor of science degree from UMBC. Led by Dr. Annica Wayman, Associate Dean for Shady Grove Affairs, the program combines the theory of a traditional life science degree with hands-on, real-world applications of the process for translating scientific discoveries into life-saving solutions. Students in the program develop an understanding of such specialties as cell biology, lab instrumentation, bioinformatics, biostatistics, epidemiology, biochemical engineering and applying that knowledge to the design and development of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and other biotechnology products. Since real-world experience is stressed in the program, the program does a great job ensuring that students also gain access to valuable internships at local biotech companies.

Students start the first two years of coursework for the TLST program at Montgomery College’s state-of-the-art Bioscience Education Center on the Germantown Campus, where they learn valuable industry-based skills such as polymerase chain reaction, gel electrophoresis, gene cloning, mass spectroscopy, and chromatography. The program, which has been led by Dr. Collins Jones for over 20 years, is renowned among most local biotech companies for its industry-relevant curriculum that fully prepares students to succeed in cGMP laboratories after graduation. Successful completion of the curricula results in an AAS in biotechnology or other associate’s degree tracks from Montgomery College. Students can finish the last two years of TLST coursework at USG’s brand new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Building in Rockville, which opened in 2019.  This program is built on the foundation of collaboration among educational institutions and showcases what is possible when we work together.

The Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP)

The Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP) was launched in August 2018. In under two years, the program has helped approximately 200 unique organizations across various tech-related fields fund 310 paid internships in Maryland. Administered by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and funded by the State of Maryland, the program has become a critical component to the BioHealth Capital Region’s (BHCR) workforce development efforts. Along with increasing access to capital, workforce development remains one of the region’s leading challenges, repeatedly cited at BHCR conferences and panels by entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and talent executives.

The concept of MTIP is that it will basically pay you to hire interns, therefore taking away cost as an excuse for not offering an internship program.  MTIP can offer regional bioscience companies critical assistance with workforce development matters, offering employers reimbursement for up to 50% of an intern’s wages. Employers partnering with MTIP can recoup up to $3,000 annually per intern. Interns are an invaluable resource, and the MTIP reimbursement program can be a high-impact growth accelerator for startups and growth-stage life science companies. MTIP has a growing foothold in the BHCR’s life sciences industry. The program has helped fund several quality assurances, data analysis, product development, biomanufacturing, and lab research interns at growth-stage companies.

The ‘John Holaday’ BioHealth Leadership Award

In honor of the late John Holaday, Ph.D., renowned scientist, CEO, philanthropist, mentor, and community leader, this award recognizes a regional biohealth leader who embodies Holaday’s personal credo — “do well by doing good”, and exemplifies a similar unwavering devotion to excellence. With this award we want you to nominate a servant leader who is carrying on John’s legacy and lives each day with a passionate pursuit of excellence and innovation in their own work to make a difference in the lives of others. As CEO and Founder EntreMed, and MaxCyte, Holaday had an important role in building the foundation for the biohealth industry that exists here today, and we want to honor that legacy through this award.

Finalists

Dr. Jeffrey Hausfeld 

Jeffrey Hausfeld, M.D., MBA, is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Medical Officer for BioFactura, and the Founder and Chairman of the Board for the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE).  Through SoPE, Dr. Hausfeld brings together medical professionals on the front line of patient care with stakeholders in the innovation commercialization process; consultants, lawyers, other service providers, investors, and others, in the interest of bringing ideas to improve healthcare for all to life. Dr. Hausfeld has organized and moderated numerous industry panels for SoPE as well as for other organizations, such as the Maryland Tech Council, that seek to educate and advance innovation in medicine. 

His dedication to advisory and mentorship of hundreds of healthcare entrepreneurs through SoPE has helped many of them overcome the challenging landscape that they face in their journey to bring new life-saving innovations to the patients who need them. Though he’s not practicing medicine, his work still upholds his Hippocratic Oath to “… respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.” 

BioFactura is headquartered in Frederick, Maryland. It operates an R&D/manufacturing facility to develop and commercializes high-value biosimilars (i.e., generic biopharmaceuticals) using its patented StableFast™ Biomanufacturing Platform, the optimal system for bringing these drugs to market with faster, lower cost, superior-quality manufacture. For over 10 years, BioFactura has been advancing life-saving medicines, including biodefense drugs against smallpox and Ebola, novel medicines for cancer, and low-cost/high-quality biosimilars for autoimmune and infectious diseases.  Dr. Hausfeld has been an instrumental figure and a strong supporter of developing the biohealth ecosystem in this region.

Jeffrey Galvin, CEO, American Gene Technologies

Jeff Galvin is a visionary leader who inspires his team and the community around him to strive for greatness. He is an evangelist for what is possible, as is reflective in AGT’s motto, “Creativity Cures”. Galvin’s leadership style is reflective of the company he has built. As he once described it, “AGT is a unique place. Every person who works at the company, from the admin staff to the PhDs in the lab, work towards a goal we are passionate about ending as much human suffering as possible. That energy is palpable in the halls. We value brains, work ethic, passion, creativity, and teamwork. That value system has brought us tremendous diversity in the team and has created a multi-ethnic workforce that is over 60% women, with seven native spoken languages.”

Prior to AGT, Galvin was a serial tech innovator and entrepreneur who retired in his early 40’s. However, when he discovered the groundbreaking viral vector work of the NIH’s Dr. Roscoe Brady, it ignited a passion in him to bring forth what he describes as, “the software revolution for the next 100 years: reprogramming DNA in cells to improve health.” He co-founded American Gene Technologies along with Brady in 2007 to make that vision a reality. Now in 2020, AGT’s first Phase 1 clinical trial has begun for their HIV Cure program, marking a major milestone for the company and the many employees who have made it possible. 

Galvin is a dynamic presence outside the halls of AGT, across the BioHealth Capital Region, and beyond where he is active on many boards, including the Maryland Tech Council (MTC).  He invests his time in the community and the industry to help others and shepherd the industry forward.  Whether that is in the form of fostering a world-class community of cell and gene therapy companies here in Maryland, which he sees becoming a future “DNA Valley”, or impacting the lives of patients on the Board of Directors of the Cancer Support Community (CSC).  Galvin can also be found speaking at the Kids Museum or local Montgomery County schools giving his time to help inspire students in STEM and to become their best selves. 

Dr. Marco Chacon, Founder, Paragon Bioservices

Marco Chacón, Ph.D., is an accomplished biotech industry and community leader who came to the United States in 1967 as a 17-year-old foreign exchange student from Costa Rica and put himself through school by performing more than 2,500 autopsies for a group of pathologists. After marrying his high-school sweetheart, together, they started Paragon Bioservices in 1990. Nearly 30 years later, Dr. Chacon had grown one of the most successful biotech companies in the region before it was acquired in 2019 for $2.1 billion to become Catalent Gene Therapy.

Education, mentorship, loyalty, and service have been cornerstones of Dr. Chacon’s leadership principles throughout his career. He is an inspirational leader and visionary who has always led by example and believed that the possibilities for success in the United States are the best in the world — if one is willing to work hard and be persistent. Another of the core principles that helped him build Paragon is that – No man or company is an island. “I had a team of solid individuals that stuck with me, some of them for the better part of 20 years,” shared Dr. Chacon at the 2019 TEDCO Expo. 

After their successful Paragon exit, the Chacóns sought to give back. They founded the Alicia and Yaya Foundation, which supports science, education, children, and the less fortunate through programs such as the Alicia and Yaya Global Fellowship Program to enhance global learning experiences, support innovation in global health, and foster relations between UMB and institutions in Costa Rica. The foundation also supported the Graduate School Student Emergency Fund, the final phase of construction of UMB’s new Community Engagement Center, and a new cohort of UMB CURE Scholars from sixth grade to high school graduation and beyond.

Dr. Chacón now serves as the Chairman of the Board for The Discovery Labs and The Center for Breakthrough Medicines; the Founder & President of IRAZÚ Bio-Holdings LLC., and formerly, Chacón served as Assistant Vice President of Industry Alliances at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Breakthrough Company of the Year Award

This award recognizes the companies who have pursued their mission with dedication and perseverance and built momentum towards commercialization with a substantial breakthrough this past year. Nominees should be selected of companies who have achieved important milestones such as advancing to a clinical-stage company, achieving successful pivotal trials, or getting FDA approval to commercialize their technology to bring it to the patients who need it.

A long list of companies had breakthroughs this year and achieved great milestones for their technology, so it was a challenging task to narrow down finalists. These finalists were chosen from that list because their technology addresses an essential advancement in the field of medicine for their patient population or the medical field as a whole.  Congratulations to all of the finalists who are on their way to changing the world by saving and improving lives.

Finalists

American Gene Technologies (AGT) – FDA Approved Phase 1 Clinical Trial for HIV Cure

HIV/AIDs was once a worldwide epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s. It is now largely manageable but still a grave public health concern around the world. Approximately 1.1 million people in the U.S. live with HIV today and are relying on costly medicines that often require daily treatments with adverse side effects that degrade their quality of life.  For the past twelve years, AGT has been pursuing its gene therapy technology that could one day soon produce a functional cure for HIV, and this year was a breakthrough year for that pursuit. This August, the FDA Approved American Gene Technologies (AGT) to move forward with the Phase 1 Clinical Trial of their HIV Cure Program.

In October 2019, AGT submitted the IND for its HIV Cure Program to the FDA with great excitement from employees and the HIV patient community. “Based on our successful commercial-scale product manufacturing runs and features of the product observed in our laboratories, this therapy has a high potential to be effective. I feel confident that AGT103-T will make an important difference in the lives of HIV infected persons,” said Jeff Galvin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AGT.  Peer-Reviewed pre-clinical data presented by AGT and NIAID this summer also validates the high potential for their HIV Functional Cure and has many in the industry feeling optimistic about the clinical program.  On the heels of these milestones, AGT also moved its HQ to a brand new 27,000 sf facility in Rockville across from the NCI that will support AGT’s HIV Cure and immuno-oncology lead programs and provide greater capacity for additional product development. 

Arcellx – Phase 1 Clinical trial for safer CAR-T cancer therapies

Cell Therapies like chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CAR-Ts) have revolutionized our ability to treat cancer patients and save lives. However, the first-generation CAR-Ts have limitations around safety, efficacy, and point of care moderation. Arcellx is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel, adaptive, and controllable cell therapies to treat patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases that are designed to be safer and more effective than conventional CAR-T’s. Arcellx’s vision is to bring ARC-sparX platform cell therapies to millions of patients who can self-administer prescribed sparX proteins under the care of academic and community practices.

Led by regional industry veteran David Hilbert, Ph.D., Arcellx is a cell therapy company on the radar of many industry insiders that raised $85 million last year in a Series B investment to advance its clinical pipeline. In February, Arcellx began their Phase 1 clinical trials for CART-ddBCMA, announcing that the first patient has been dosed with its engineered T cell therapy utilizing a novel deimmunized synthetic binding domain in the treatment of patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. The following month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Orphan Drug Designation to CART-ddBCMA. As this breakthrough year for Arcellx comes to an end, they will be presenting the clinical date from CART-ddBCMA on December 7th at the 62nd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting. There is much anticipation that positive data will point to continued advancements and growth in 2021.

Neuraly, Phase 2 Clinical Trials for CNS Disorders

CNS disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 55 million people worldwide, yet it proves to be among the most challenging fields to develop advanced therapies.  Particularly for Alzheimer’s, no cure exists, and most medications and management strategies only temporarily improve symptoms for what is a horrible disease. However, In 2016 a startup, called Neuraly was launched out of the labs of Ted Dawson at Johns Hopkins with a mission to take CNS disorders. The startup’s parent group, D&D Pharmatech, led a $137.1 Million Series B in 2019 to support the late-stage clinical trials in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for its brain penetrating drug called NLY01.  Lead by Viktor Roschke, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, D&D Pharmatech, Neuraly, and Theraly Fibrosis, the company used that investment to advance its clinical pipeline with two critical Phase 2 trials in 2020. 

2020’s breakthrough year began with the FDA approval to begin its Phase 2 clinical trial of NLY01 for Parkinson’s disease in February. “The initiation of this Phase 2 study is an important milestone in the ongoing advancement of NLY01 which we believe has the potential to be a ground-breaking therapy for Parkinson’s patients based on results we have seen to date in preclinical trials,” shared Seulki Lee, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Neuraly. Just this November, Neuraly also received clearance of an IND to initiate a Phase 2B trial of NLY01 in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  Combined with its sister companies, D&D Pharmatech has advanced four programs into Phase 2 studies this year, making it a breakthrough year.

Employer of the Year

This award honors the life science employers who are the foundation of a vibrant biotech cluster. Being a great employer is about building an exceptional workforce, developing an employee-centric culture that keeps employees engaged and empowers them to be ambassadors for your company, fostering a more inclusive and resilient workforce. It’s also about the ability to attract top talent and achieve your needed growth without compromising these elements. Nominees should reflect these essential elements and have a talent brand that.

Finalist

Emergent BioSolutions

Emergent Biosolutions (Emergent) is a global biopharmaceutical company, Maryland’s leading vaccine manufacturer, and one of the key life science anchor organizations of the BioHealth Capital Region (BCHR). They operate five facilities across Maryland, with more than 800 employees working towards a common goal. Emergent has built a culture that values each employee’s diversity and contributions to achieving its mission to protect and enhance life. 

Their vision of protecting one billion lives by 2030 is one that every employee takes to heart, especially today with their pivotal role in Operation Warp Speed (OWS) that includes five COVID-19 vaccine partnership programs.  Emergent sought out to hire nearly 300 new employees in 2020 to meet their OWS goals. They were uncompromising in upholding a good candidate experience and hiring the ‘right’ employees aligned with their culture.  This was evident in the many virtual recruiting events they hosted where their culture and mission were always out front in the discussion.  Emergent leaders make it very clear just how much they value their employees, an element that is woven throughout their culture and much of their communications. If you follow them on social media, you’ll see how many employees are online sharing their love for working at Emergent.

The company offers employees formal programs to support continued learning through on-the-job assignments, training programs, tuition assistance, professional memberships, and professional conference attendance so that they can continue to grow their skills and careers at Emergent. Additionally, community volunteering is a bedrock of their culture, which they formalized in their eGIVE program, which stands for Give, Invest, and Volunteer in our Emergent communities.  Amanda Ilioff, Supervisor, Manufacturing, shared a sentiment that captures what type of employer Emergent is; “We’re growing everyday and welcoming people from all different backgrounds. We’re moving at Warp Speed, and we’re looking for people to add to our community and family.”

Kite, a Gilead Company

Kite, a Gilead company, opened its Gaithersburg, MD Neo-Antigen facility in 2018, and a year later announced that they would be building a cutting-edge commercial cell therapy manufacturing facility in Frederick, MD.   Since then, Kite has been growing their Maryland employee base to over 100 employees across both sites.  As the Frederick site begins to prepare for its first manufacturing runs, they continue to hire across many areas.  For Kite, hiring the best and brightest bioengineering and life science talent is about more than technical skills. It’s also about marrying great talent and skills with a workplace culture inextricably linked with the lives of the patients and patient families.

The one batch to one patient relationship will create strong, personal ties between Kite’s team and every patient treated by-products produced at the Urbana, Maryland site. Brian Stamper, Director of Manufacturing at Kite’s Frederick facility, stated, “What I really love about Kite is the impact we have on patients. Every time we get a production batch at our facility, we’re holding someone’s life in our hands. Patients drive everything we do. Everyone who signs up for Kite takes our culture seriously and can contribute in a very meaningful way.”

Kite is an employer that is at the forefront of innovation, as a global leader in cell therapy and their employees are revolutionizing science and medicine through their work each day. The secret sauce that has propelled Kite’s leadership in the field is an element that deeply seeded in their culture – diversity drives innovation. Cell Therapy Specialist CaroElise Ataku shared her experience; “It’s a very inclusive culture here. I always feel like I can go to anybody, even interdepartmentally. Everybody has this collaborative mentality, which is very important in the lab.”

RoosterBio

Located in Frederick, MD, RoosterBio is a truly employee-centric company that works hard to make sure every employee feels at home at ‘The Roost”.  The innovative stem cell company operates in an environment that promotes transparency based on psychological safety, where employees are comfortable voicing their opinions. They have initiatives in place to solicit ongoing/real-time feedback from employees to monitor the pulse of the organization and ensure they are focusing their efforts in the right areas to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement.

Rooster established a cross-functional team of volunteers called “The Culture Club” that plans events and activities in 7 main areas: Diversity and Inclusion, Wellness, Onsite Fun, Offsite Fun, Volunteering/Community Outreach, Recognition, and Sustainability. They hold ongoing events and activities in all of these areas, which all employees are well attended, including our Leadership Team members who are passionate about having a fantastic culture.

Several workplace awards have recognized RoosterBio as a result of their awesome culture and work environment. RoosterBio was named ‘The Best Place to Work’ (Medium employer) in Frederick County in 2019. In 2020 the company was named ‘Top 50 Workplace in Frederick County’ and a regional Top Workplace by The Washington Post.

COVID-19 Impact Award 

This has been a year like no other.  Our society has been completely turned upside down, and our lives have been forever changed.  This award honors those life science companies who have responded to develop a product, project, or release this year that has, or is expected to, ease the effects of COVID-19.  Nominees should be considered based on the impact they have or will have on COVID-19 and our public health.

Finalists

Longhorn Vaccines

Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics isn’t a name that many people may have known of before COVID-19, but they have become one of the most impactful regional companies tackling the pandemic.  As early as February, the company was tapped by the FDA to increase the production of its specialized product to rectify sample collection shortages; a critical gap in the COVID-19 testing supply chain. As one of the only US suppliers, Longhorn quickly ramped up production capability to over 1 million per week in early Spring.  To date, they have produced and distributed more than 30,000,000 sample collection tubes containing their innovative PrimeStore Analyte Transport Media (ATM)Ⓡ, which could revolutionize antigen and molecular testing by completely eliminating the need for RNA and DNA extraction which will speed up testing and alow for improved point of care diagnosis.

When Coca-Cola was tapped to further address the supply chain gap of COVID-19 test collection tubes, Longhorn was brought in to validate the tubes and confirm that the soda bottle preforms are compatible with COVID-19 testing systems. As of July, Longhorn has been awarded $225.8M in government contracts for COVID-19-related work, all of which are being provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to USA Today’s story. Without innovators like Longhorn, led by President, Jeff Fischer, who responded quickly to address these mass-testing challenges, the US would not have been able to achieve the testing capacity needed to meet such an unprecedented demand. There is no doubt that the team at Longhorn and their partners have saved thousands of lives.

Emergent BioSolutions

Emergent BioSolutions CAIDM Facility in Baltimore, MD was originally built with a contract with BARDA to rapidly develop and manufacture vaccines in case of a pandemic.  This year, that facility and the Emergent team was called into action. Since the pandemic hit, Emergent has received $628.3M in DHHS/BARDA government contracts related to COVID-19 under “Operation Warp Speed” (OWS).  The funding is for rapidly developing and scaling the production of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Emergent has five COVID-19 Partnerships, including JNJ and Novavax, to rapidly-produce millions of vaccine doses so they are an integral partner in the OWS effort.

“One of the quotes you regularly hear from the Operation Warp Speed folks is that ‘all roads lead through Bayview’,” states Mike Mauer, Senior Director, Manufacturing. “There’s a lot of pressure, but also a lot of excitement. It’s been awesome and wildly challenging. We’re on the tip of the spear.” 

“This effort requires a lot of capability and infrastructure, but it’s nothing without our people and onboarding new talent” stated Syed T. Husain, Senior Vice President and Head of CDMO.  In order to meet these unprecedented demands, Emergent needed to hire around 300 new employees by the end of 2020 and prepare to transform the operation into a 24/7 production facility in 2021. Thanks to the dedication of their many employees, Emergent is on track to hit these goals and continue to play an integral role in COVID-19 Vaccine development and production.

Novavax

Novavax responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, as early as February 26th, 2020, announcing that it had made early progress utilizing its proprietary Matrix-M™ adjuvant, which has had success in combating Ebola, Influenza, H1N1, and other viruses, and applying it for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enhance immune responses. The program was being led by Nina Patel, Director of Vaccine Development and Antibody Discovery, and her all-female team who was working almost non-stop since January 10th.  Aside from the global health implications of their vaccine, the fact that it is being developed and led by a team of female scientists is a story in itself that will hopefully also spread across the world as a source of inspiration for young girls and women to pursue their dreams of an impactful career in science. The pandemic forced the company to move quickly over the course of the year. The company’s workforce has doubled to more than 400 people, has recently acquired a new 122,000 square-foot manufacturing facility that could add more than 400 jobs, and has been granted FDA’s Fast Track Designation for the vaccine which is in Phase 3 trials in the US and Mexico. The benefits of Novavax’s NVXCoV2373 vaccine compared to some of the others in development are that it would only require a single dose and could be stored at room temperature. These are two very critical factors when you consider the logistics requirements for vaccinating 2 billion people. Novavax has secured $2 billion in funding for its global coronavirus vaccine program and has committed to delivering more than $2 billion doses worldwide.


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Over the past 8 years, Chris has grown BioBuzz into a respected brand that is recognized for its community building, networking events and news stories about the local biotech industry. In addition, he runs a Recruiting and Marketing Agency that helps companies attract top talent through a blended model that combines employer branding and marketing services together with a high powered recruiting solution.