Announcing Your 3rd Annual BioBuzz Awards Finalists

We’re excited to announce this year’s finalists for the third annual 2022 BioBuzz Awards. These awards celebrate the people and companies across our regional community and their efforts and accomplishments to impact human health and build a stronger biotech community.

The annual BioBuzz awards celebrate the people, companies and communities across the BioHealth Capital Region and, starting this year, Greater Philadelphia. These awards laud and recognize their efforts and to impact human health and build stronger, more vibrant biotech communities.

There are so many people and organizations doing great work in these regions, selecting finalists was not an easy task. We’re very excited to announce this year’s BioBuzz Awards finalists for 2022. 

We’d like to thank our annual sponsors, partners, and collaborators who provided nominations representing a wide array of people, companies and support organizations. Like the last two BioBuzz Awards, there was no shortage of deserving nominees. 

The people in the BioHealth Capital Region and Philadelphia are literally changing the world with amazing science, unwavering effort and big hearts. Let’s celebrate our colleagues! 

As always, the BioBuzz Awards winners will be chosen by YOU.  We have and always will be a community-first company, and we believe that each and every person plays an important role in what makes this community so great. It only takes a few minutes to make your vote count.

Be sure to show your support by sharing on social media using #BioBuzzAwards to help spread the word.

Learn more about each finalist below:

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.

Rachel King – Interim CEO, BIO

Rachel King is the co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of GlycoMimetics, Inc., and the Interim CEO of BIO. Before founding GlycoMimetics, Inc. in 2003, Mrs. King was an executive in residence at New Enterprise Associates (NEA) who she joined after leading Genetic Therapy, Inc. (GTI) through the company’s early stages, initial public offering, and eventual sale to Novartis, at which she ran GTI as a wholly owned subsidiary of Novartis.

Rachel King has held several Board of Directors positions over the past 20 years including her current roles at Novavax, GlycoMymetics, and her past role as Board of Directors Chair for BIO.

Learn more about Mrs. King in a previous episode of BioTalk with Rich Bendis and in this recent article from BIO.

Dr. Kurt Newman – President & CEO, Children’s National Hospital

Dr. Kurt Newman is a surgeon and recognized leader in pediatric health nationally and in Washington, D.C. Since becoming CEO in 2011, he has fostered a culture of patient-centered care and championed innovations in research, operations, and clinical care. He has forged productive partnerships with other health systems in the region, with government and community entities and with industry at the local, national and global level. He is also a strong advocate for expanding mental health access for kids and has led two national forums on this issue. 

Dr. Newman was recognized as the Washington Business Journal’s 2021 CEO of the Year. in addition to his work during the continuing pandemic, WBJ added, “Newman also vastly expanded the enterprise, opening the first phase of its $215 million research and innovation campus at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in D.C., expanding its behavioral health facilities at the renovated Takoma Theatre, unveiling a new sports medicine center in partnership with Fight for Children in downtown Silver Spring’s newly dubbed Inventa Towers and inking a deal to provide crucial pediatric services in what will be Southeast D.C.’s best hope for health care: a $375 million state-of-the-art hospital to be built on the St. Elizabeths East campus.”

Dr. Newman plans to soon retire from his position, continuing to lead the organization while the board searches for his replacement.

Michael Richman – CEO, NextCure

Mike Richman is a veteran entrepreneur and executive in the biotech and biopharma space, having most recently founded NextCure in 2015.  Previously Mr. Richman founded and served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Amplimmune, which was acquired by MedImmune/AstraZeneca in 2013. Mr. Richman also served as an Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of MacroGenics, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Administration at MedImmune, and as Vice President of Business Development. From 1985 to 1996, he served in various positions at Chiron (now Novartis) in business development and intellectual property.

Under Mr. Richman’s leadership NextCure was taken public in 2019 for $82M and has made impressive strides in recent years. Beyond expanding its pipeline and moving multiple assets into the clinic, the company has in-house cGMP manufacturing and also recently just launched its new GLP lab to expand in-house capabilities and get medicines to patients faster. 

Richman has a very authentic leadership style and works hard to empower the people around him to be their best and grow their careers. He invests a considerable effort to build a vibrant and supportive company culture, from creating a work environment that inspires creativity to ensuring cross-communication and camaraderie between departments to creating a workplace where the diversity and uniqueness of his employees can stand out.

Learn more about Mr. Richman and NextCure’s mission to develop novel immuno-medicines.

The 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.’ At its core, it recognizes the media campaigns or platforms that have successfully engaged, informed, and connected people within scientific communities. Eligible nominations may include social media, podcasts, video series, blog series, event or webinar series, and other advertising, marketing, and public relations campaigns. Nominees are selected based on the strategic approach, quality, and results achieved.

American Gene Technologies’ “The Cure Chronicles” Video Series

Rockville, Maryland’s American Gene Technologies (AGT), a leading gene therapy biotech company working to develop a functional cure for HIV and treatments for other diseases, launched a new HIV-focused video series in 2022 entitled “The Cure Chronicles” .

“The Cure Chronicles” features thoughtful and compelling conversations with people in the HIV community and can be found on AGT’s website, YouTube as well as other digital media platforms. The series is hosted by AGT’s CEO Jeff Galvin and discusses a wide range of HIV topics through the perspectives of people living with HIV, advocates, medical experts, policymakers, and more. The series recently went live with its 13th episode.

CEO Council for Growth’s “Discovery Starts with Me” Video Series, produced by the Select Greater Philadelphia Council

Greater Philadelphia’s position as a leading life sciences hub is a draw to many looking to start or take the next step in their careers. As part of its proactive approach to supporting talent attraction and retention in the cell and gene therapy sector the CEO Council for Growth, through the “Discovery Starts with Me” video series that was produced by the Select Greater Philadelphia Council, seeks to illustrate what makes the region so appealing.

“Discovery Starts with Me” features “Talent Ambassadors” working in regional cell and gene therapy companies while showcasing Greater Philadelphia’s accessibility, affordability, and livability. A key attribute of the videos is inclusion of segments filmed by the Talent Ambassadors that show the individuals both inside and outside of the workplace, reinforcing how working in the region complements their personal and social lives. Through the series, the CEO Council for Growth ultimately hopes to connect employers with job seekers, supporting the creation of new therapies, new treatments, and new ways of delivering health to our citizens within Greater Philadelphia and beyond.

The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund’s “Meet the Awardees” Video Series

Since 2006, the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF) has played a pivotal role in supporting Maryland-based researchers and companies that are developing new medical strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of human diseases, injuries, and conditions through human stem cells. The MSCRF has been instrumental in the launch and growth of a host of Maryland stem cell companies since it created its Accelerating Cures initiative in 2017, which has helped move 104 technologies into validation, companies, and the clinic. In addition, the MSCRF has supported 26 research/product development/clinical trial grants in the past five years (compared to 12 in the previous ten years).

The MSCRF’s video series “Meet the Awardees” introduces some of its funding recipients and provides insights into the groundbreaking stem cell research the fund supports throughout the state of Maryland. 

The Community Builder Award

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

Dr. Nao Gamo – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NeuroSonics Medical, Inc

Dr. Nao Gamo has led NeuroSonics Medical since its incorporation. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she spent 15 years as an academic researcher in neuroscience and psychiatry, with a focus on the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment related to psychiatric disorders. She was also an Adjunct Assistant Research Engineer and Research Associate in Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, where she worked to develop the NeuroSonics Medical technology. She completed undergraduate degrees in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a PhD in Neurobiology from Yale University, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Molecular Psychiatry Program at the Johns Hopkins University.

She is also passionate about helping those transitioning from academic research to an entrepreneurial career. Over the past few years, she has given several webinars and participated in panels about entrepreneurship and her career path to local groups and research institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), and Children’s National Hospital. She has also mentored over 20 students over her career so far to help them to experience various biotechnology careers and guide them towards their next stages in life. 

Finally, as the new Vice Chair of the Executive Women in Bio Committee for the Capital Region Chapter of Women In Bio, she is taking these activities to a larger scale to encourage women who are aspiring founders and executives. For all her contributions, she has been recognized as a RealLIST Connector 2021 (“leaders growing Baltimore’s tech and entrepreneurship network”) and Women In Bio Capital Region Chapter’s 2021-2022 Rising Star.

John Newby – CEO, Virginia Bio

John Newby is the CEO at Virginia Bio, the statewide non-profit trade association for the life science industry. Approximately 300 companies spanning biopharmaceuticals, medical device, medtech, diagnostics, digital health, bioinformatics, agriculture, and industrial bio and related fields are based in Virginia, mainly clustered around research universities and medical institutions. Virginia Bio is the sole state affiliate and works closely with key national industry organizations BIO, AdvaMed, MDMA, PhRMA and We Work for Health.

Mr. Newby was formerly the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS), where he led an 850-member Agency located across 50 Virginia locations, delivering employment, education, benefits, behavioral health and long term health care services to Virginia’s Reservists, Guardsmen, transitioning service members and 725,000 veterans. Prior to leading VDVS Newby practiced corporate, intellectual property, and Hatch-Waxman biopharmaceutical law at international law firms in Richmond and Washington DC, and at a multinational company. Newby previously commanded an Air Force special operations unit supporting the U.S. Army’s 3rd and 7th Special Forces Groups (Airborne) and served in Iraq as an aviator aboard the Boeing B-1B Lancer strategic bomber.

Nucleate Baltimore: Co-Founders Gosia Latallo & W. Taylor Cottle

Nucleate’s Baltimore chapter was Co-founded by Gosia Latallo and W. Taylor Cottle in 2021. Nucleate is a student-run non-profit organization developing future leaders in the life sciences industry by educating current academic trainees. It provides free programs that democratize biotech education and helps identify and support talent in life sciences and biotech. 

The Nucleate team also works to initiate new intellectual communities, build bridges within the biotech ecosystem and increase the quality and quantity of life science technologies spinning out in academic labs. Most importantly, Nucleate is building a community that focuses on outreach, diversity, equity, and inclusion to make biotech/life science accessible.

Learn more about the Nucleate program here.

Venture Café Philadelphia

The Venture Café Philadelphia taps into the expertise and network of the University City Science Center to partner with companies and organizations that are evolving business, education, technology, social justice, science, and the arts within Philadelphia and beyond. Along with pitch nights, thought-provoking content, and one-on-one sessions. Venture Café’s flagship program – Thursday Gathering – provides attendees with hundreds of connection and action opportunities each week, both online and at their inspiring venues.

The Workforce Champion of the Year Award

This award recognizes the program or organization that has made a measurable contribution to enhancing the biotech workforce within the BioHealth Capital Region and Philadelphia. Talent is the single most important, and limiting, variable to the success of a company and of a regional economy. These nominees are recognized for their outstanding contributions and innovative approach to attracting, training, or growing the biotech workforce.

The Biomedical Technician Training Program (BTT Program) – Iovance, Wistar Institute, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and Philadelphia Works

The Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) Program was created by Dr. William Wunner at The Wistar Institute in partnership with Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) in 2000. In 2019 the BTT Program became a registered pre-apprenticeship that can lead into Wistar’s Fox Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) Apprenticeship.

This year, six (6) organizations came together for the next iteration of the BTT Program under a new grant awarded. The Wistar Institute, West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, Iovance Biotherapeutics, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and Philadelphia Works recently announced their partnership for a paid workforce development training program called Biomedical Technician Training Program: Aseptic Manufacturing.

The aseptic manufacturing program is 22 weeks long and will include 10 weeks of evening classes followed by a full-time lab orientation at The Wistar Institute. The last phase of the program is a 10-week externship with Iovance Biotherapeutics, where students will work at the Iovance iCTC (Cell Therapy Center) at the Navy Yard. After completion of the BTT Program, trainees can obtain positions that are traditionally held by graduates of four-year baccalaureate programs.

Learn more about the program.

Montgomery College Biotechnology Program

Montgomery College’s Biotechnology Program has been at the forefront of educating and training Maryland’s workforce for generations and is recognized by the region’s top employers. The comprehensive program offers an array of education and training opportunities for individuals at all career levels.

The Biotechnology AAS Degree as well as a Biotechnology Certificate and Biomanufacturing Certificate program are all build from industry-lead curriculums, and just this year MC was awarded a $350,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for its project, New to ATE: Improving Biopharmaceutical Technician Education with Cell and Gene Therapy Credentials.

The college’s BIOTrain program offers a plethora of free, short workshops that equip individuals with the foundational skills needed for success in a life sciences career – whether it be learning about protein purification techniques and the drug development process to building soft skills such as negotiating and speaking with confidence.

The Bio-Trac program offers advanced scientific training for PhD’s and researchers through hands-on workshops where participants have the opportunity to dive in deep to the very latest research techniques such as and take full advantage of Montgomery College’s state-of-the-art facilities and training labs. At the Bioscience Education Center participants take workshops on everything from flow cytometry to CRISPR to next-generation sequencing and beyond.

Montgomery College and UMBC partnered with WorkSource Montgomery to offer free Biotech Bootcamps to unemployed county residence and prepare them for careers in the industry. Montgomery College has also partnered with GlaxoSmithKline to offer high school graduates and first-year college students a unique opportunity to earn a respected biotech associate’s degree while also gaining relevant work experience through GSK. It’s through these synergies between industry and educational systems that Maryland will continue to prosper.

Virginia Bio’s “STEM2VA” Internship Matching Program

VirginiaBio’s Stem2VA Internship Program offers up to 100 undergrad and graduate students a challenging and exciting opportunity to learn firsthand about life sciences careers. STEM2VA will match Virginia-based students at a two- or four-year plus degree-awarding institution with enriching experiences in the life science industry. The program seeks scholars with an interest in becoming future scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs across a variety of disciplines, including research and development, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, digital health, and medical devices/equipment.

The Breakthrough Life Science 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 from companies who have achieved important milestones such as advancing to a clinical-stage company, achieving successful pivotal trials, or getting FDA approval for the commercialization of their technology to bring it to the patients who need it.


Arcellx is a clinical-stage biotechnology company headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD that is developing innovative cell immunotherapies for patients with cancer and other incurable diseases. The company has developed an impressive pipeline targeting a multitude of diseases including Multiple Myeloma, AML/MDS, and various solid tumors. Utilizing their novel D-Domain technology, the team is working to make cell therapies safer, more efficacious, and more accessible.

Notable News & Milestones


Vaccitech is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of chronic infectious diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and other T cell-related diseases. Headquartered in the UK, Vaccitech also has a presence in Baltimore after acquiring Avidea Technologies in late 2021.

The company’s unique platforms, ChAdOx, MVA, and SNAPvax, are designed to harness the power of the immune system’s T cells and can be combined in prime-boost regimens, providing advantages in terms of tolerability, manufacturability, and efficacy.

Notable News & Milestones

Verismo Therapeutics

Philadelphia-based Verismo is utilizing its SynKIR™ CAR T cell therapies to treat solid tumors with long-term T cell functionality. The naturally-inspired unique structure of these therapies is designed to couple and decouple to allow T cells to remain effective even under repeated tumor encounters in the harshest of solid tumor microenvironments.

So far SynKIR™ has shown promising results in in vivo solid tumor models, with the company poised to enter the clinic in early 2023.

Notable News & Milestones

The Employer of the Year Award

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.

Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM)

CBM is a cell and gene therapy CDMO based in the heart of Philadelphia that offers pre-clinical through commercial manufacturing capabilities including process development for cell therapy, plasmid DNA, and viral vector manufacturing, as well as cell banking, cell processing, and a full suite of complimentary testing and analytical capabilities.

The company has had a tremendous year despite the headwinds of the bear market, with audacious plans to build the largest cell therapy manufacturing operation in the world. And with that comes the need for hiring. In the first quarter alone, CBM hired approximately 200 people to help the CDMO meet its goals.

Take a look through CBM’s webpage and social media and you’ll immediately get a sense of the company’s vibrant culture. Staff at all levels, from senior leadership to more junior levels, are celebrated for their involvement in conferences, speaking engagements, outreach efforts, and more. 

Horizon Therapeutics

Horizon Therapeutics, a global biotechnology company focused on the development of medicines to treat rare, autoimmune, and severe inflammatory diseases, recently announced the construction of an incredible new R&D facility in Maryland that is poised to bring hundreds of new jobs to Montgomery County. It’s predicted that Horizon will be home to more than 200 scientists and will more than quadruple its footprint in Maryland when the project is completed in 2024.

Horizon has received multiple recognitions over the years for its supportive, empathetic, and caring workplace culture, including one of Seramount’s Top 75 Company for Executive Women, Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, Newsweek’s Top 100 Most Loved Workplaces, and PEOPLE’s 100 companies That Care. Look more into the company, and it’s clear to see why – Horizon employees not only give it their all at work but are empowered to get involved in volunteering and community efforts.

U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)

USP, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, has an incredibly long and impressive history. Established in 1820, the non-profit is in the business of protecting patients through rigorous science, stringent safety and quality standards, and strong supply chain management resources. The company works with stakeholders to help bring scientific standards and tools to product developers, regulators, and others so they can be optimized.

Make no mistake – just because USP has been around for a while doesn’t mean that the company is stuck in its ways and resists change. For example, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic USP embraced a new way of thinking to establish flexible working hours and set up facilities with plenty of space to ensure social distancing. USP also prides itself on working toward greater inclusivity, including being transparent about the diversity within the company as a way to continue holding itself accountable.

Please cast your vote for the 3rd Annual BioBuzz Awards and help us to recognize the leaders in the region who are making an impact on growing the ecosystem and bringing life-changing products to patients in need!