Maryland’s World Leading Cell Therapy Industry Showcased at TEDCO’s Stem Cell Symposium & Entrepreneur ExpoDan Gincel, Executive Director of the MSCRF (Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund), kicked off the 10th annual Stem Cell Symposium which has combined to be part of the Annual TEDCO Entrepreneur Expo for the past two years. The event attracted nearly 1000 attendees to the brand new Hotel at UMD on Tuesday, Oct 30, and represented a celebration of innovation from coast to coast, in Maryland. The full program featured multiple tracks that focused on important topics geared toward entrepreneurs and stem cell innovators. “Nowhere in the world will you find an entrepreneur expo and stem cell symposium together as we do here,” emphasized TEDCO’s CEO, George Davis. “That’s because in Maryland we focus on impactful innovation. We’re loaded with the best code breakers and vaccine makers.” Steve Case, Chairman & CEO, Revolution and Co-Founder, AOL gave the midday keynote where he called for the MD-DC-VA region to stop competing and work together. This is a topic echoed strongly in the regional Biotech community that formally established a BioHealth Capital Region movement over the past four years with a goal to become a Top 3 Hub by 2023. The Stem Cell Symposium kicked off with a keynote by Sally Temple, Ph.D. Scientific Director of the Neural Stem Cell Institute; she stressed the importance of maintaining transparency to move the field forward. She also spoke about the importance of sharing data while maintaining rigor in the collection and use of the cells. This year’s stem cell track featured a series of thought leading panel discussions that included some exciting local industry leaders from Thermo Fisher Scientific, Maxcyte, Autolus, and Johns Hopkins, but also a heavy-hitting line-up of big names such as GE Healthcare, J&J, and IBM Research. The day’s panel presentations showcased the fact that Maryland has become a world leader in the cell therapy industry, and is home to an abundance of world-class research as well as commercial leaders in the field. The Technology Trends and Emerging Applications in Cell Therapy Panel was moderated by Bryan Poltilove, General Manager of the Cell and Gene Therapy business at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Though the business unit operates globally, Poltilove leads the business out of Thermo’s Frederick, MD campus. Poltilove agreed to moderate because, he said, “I’m very excited about gene therapy and the promise of what it could do for patients and science.” He led a panel comprised of Kuldeep Neote from J&J, Kapil Bharti of NEI/NIH, and Matthias Alder of Autolus Therapeutics, a UK company that recently announced they were opening commercial manufacturing in Maryland. Their discussion centered around the challenges and recent advancements in the production and distribution of T-cell therapies. These therapies are at the cutting edge of medicine and deliver a promise of personalized treatment at the patient’s bedside. When envisioning the possibilities, Alder quipped, “I’m thinking about Star Trek, forty years from now.” GE Healthcare also moderated a panel on Realizing the Potential of Stem Cell Therapies, which focused on Translation, Scale Up and Commercialization. The panel featured Joshua Hare of Longeveron, Claudia Zylberberg of Akron Biotech, and Doug Doerfler of Maxcyte, Inc. who have all successfully built companies in the Stem Cell sector. When asked what they wished they’d known five years ago the consensus was how much hard work it would be, how difficult it is for the lengthy start-up cycle of companies like theirs to meet the models of potential investors, and how important it is to build a strong team early on. Doerfler advised, “Don’t be ahead of yourself. Bring in people who are good at a lot of things. The specialists can come next.” Vanek ended the session by likening the path to success as “Building the plane while we’re flying it.” The expo and symposium also marked the 20th anniversary of TEDCO, who as an organization has redefined itself in the past year under TEDCO 2.0. “The best way we can celebrate our past 20 years is to ensure that TEDCO will continue to fuel innovation for the next 20 years,” remarked Davis on how he and his team want to honor the anniversary event. This year’s event truly reflected that commitment by TEDCO, and an evening reception was held to mark the occasion, and celebrate innovation, together, as one community. For more on TEDCO visit www.tedcomd.com/
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Freelance BioTech, Health-Tech, Sci-Tech Writer
Gina Hagler is a freelance writer covering BioTech, Health-Tec, and Sci-Tech. She enjoys making complex subjects simple yet accurate. Ms. Hagler has written several science-related books, blogged for Bitter SciTech and The Food Rush, and studied science writing at Johns Hopkins University.
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