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Meet Your 2021 BioBuzz Award Winners

Today, we are excited to announce the winners of our 2nd Annual BioBuzz Awards. The BioBuzz Awards are a celebration of the exciting and groundbreaking work being done by the BioHealth Capital Region (BHCR) life science community and the individuals that make innovation happen across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Last year we had nearly 2,000 votes for our inaugural 2020 awards – this year we not only surpassed that number but smashed it with over 4,500 votes total. The outpouring of support across networks and social media was truly incredible and is a testament to the strength of our community in the Biohealth Capital Region. From all of us at BioBuzz, thank you for being such an important part of our regional community.

The award categories include:

And now, cue the drumroll – here are your 2021 BioBuzz Award winners! Congrats to all of this year’s winners as well as our amazing finalists and nominees.

The Community Builder Award

Award Winner: Amritha Jaishankar – Executive Director, Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF)/TEDCO

This award honors someone in the region who has gone above and beyond their responsibilities to make an impact on the ecosystem. They are 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 greater impact on public health and patients around the world.

About Amritha Jaishankar

Amritha Jaishankar serves as the Executive Director, Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund (MSCRF). Amritha is responsible for oversight of all MSCRF activities, programs, scientific management and oversight of the portfolio, as well as MSCRF business development. She works with stem cell scientists and a variety of key stakeholders to develop a collaborative research program and promote the commercialization of stem cell technologies. 

TEDCO - Leading Innovation to Market

Amritha is scientist by training who has devoted her career to developing cures for debilitating and life-threatening conditions of our time and to advancing this field, through various roles in federal, university, and industry settings. She is passionate about using stem cell technologies to accelerate cures for patients in need. Her experience in and outside of the laboratory has made her a proven leader and champion for stem cell research and commercialization. 

Since 2016, she has led an Accelerating Cures initiative at MSCRF and has helped create a vibrant and growing stem cell community in the region. She was recently recognized for her leadership in life sciences and contributions to the community by Women In Bio Capital Region and as a 2020 Leading Women honoree by The Daily Record, Maryland. Amritha also serves on a number of advisory boards and committees in the region.

Learn even more about Amritha in BioBuzz’s “5 Questions With…” segment.


The ‘John Holaday’ BioHealth Leadership Award

Award Winner: Doug Doerfler – Maxcyte

In honor of the late John Holaday, 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.

About Doug Doerfler

Doug Doerfler has more than four decades of experience in the discovery, development and commercialization of biotechnology products and in international financing for life science ventures. He has held many high level executive positions in industry, including: Senior corporate development and operations roles at PFRM, Inc., CEO and Director at Immunicon Corporation, and various executive positions at Life Technologies (Bethesda Research Labs/Gibco, now ThermoFisher Scientific). 

In 1998 Doerfler co-founded MaxCyte along with John Holaday, whose core technology is an advanced cell engineering platform that has grown alongside the advancing cell and gene therapy field. The organization has fifteen cell therapy commercial partners  with over 75 programs licensed for clinical use. In July 2021, MaxCyte announced the dual listing of its shares of common stock on both the London Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Global Market (“Nasdaq”) under the symbol “MXCT”

Doerfler is an active advocate for the BHCR bioscience industry, serving on multiple boards and providing mentorship and guidance to the region’s bioscience entrepreneurs. He has served on the BIO board of directors for over twenty years and was the founding Chair of BIO’s Capital Formation Committee. He is also the Chair Emeritus for the Maryland Tech Council. 

You can learn more about Doug Doerfler on the BioTalk Podcast with Rich Bendis.


The BioBuzz Media Award

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

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 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.

About the “It’s Better Here” Campaign

Last December as we were gearing up to put 2020 behind us, Maryland Life Sciences launched a new monthly newsletter, “It’s Better Here,” with the goal of amplifying to the world why Maryland, and the BioHealth Capital Region as a whole, is the place to work.

Since its inception, the “It’s Better Here” newsletter has highlighted a variety of hot topics ranging from biomanufacturing to vaccine development, industry awards to company spotlights, and everything in between, helping to keep folks in the know on everything that’s happening in our area.

And, of course, we can’t have a call out to the “It’s Better Here” newsletter without also calling out to their beautiful BioCapital Life Sciences map, illustrated by a local artist from the area.


The Workforce Champion of the Year Award

Award Winner: Kite Pharma – Apprenticeship Program with Hood College and Frederick Community College

This 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 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 within the region.

About Kite’s Apprenticeship Program

This past March Hood College announced that they were partnering with neighboring biopharmaceutical company, Kite Pharma, to help train the cell therapy workforce in Frederick. A key part of the partnership includes installing a new state-of-the-art lab in Hood’s Hodson Science and Technology Center.

Frederick Community College (FCC) is excited that Kite has chosen to work with their biotech program partnering in the first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program. This partnership gives FCC students the unique opportunity of contributing to Kite’s mission of bringing life-changing therapies to everyone.

If you or someone you know is looking for that next role, be sure to also check out Kite’s career center and job board, with hundreds of open positions at all levels.


The COVID-19 Impact Award

Award Winner: Ellume – COVID Diagnostic Test

2020 was a year like no other. And with that being said, 2021 was also quite challenging — much more, perhaps, than we had hoped at the end of 2020. This award honors those life science & biohealth technology companies who have responded to the pandemic and developed a product, project, or service this year that has made the greatest impact on easing 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.

About Ellume

Ellume has developed a suite of products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a home test that gives results in 15 minutes and antibody tests for the laboratory market. These rapid diagnostic tests help to reduce disease burden, manage outbreaks and community transmission, and reduce pressure on healthcare systems. The Australian company invested $16 million into Frederick County, occupying 180,000 square feet of space on Executive Court South in the Progress Labs corporate park. The project is expected to create about 1,500 new jobs by the end of 2022.


The Breakthrough Company of the Year Award

Award Winner: Adaptive Phage Therapeutics

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.

About Adaptive Phage Therapeutics

Adaptive Phage Therapeutics (APT) has had quite a year.  From fundraising and expanded leadership, to new collaborations and an advancing clinical pipeline, APT has made some breakthrough milestones to make their technology available to even more patients.

APT is a clinical-stage biotech advancing therapies to treat multi-drug resistant infections with their PhageBank™ approach, which leverages a library of phages that collectively provide evergreen broad-spectrum and polymicrobial coverage. PhageBank™ therapy is matched through a proprietary phage susceptibility assay that APT has teamed with Mayo Clinic Laboratories to commercialize on a global scale. PhageBank™ is positioned to be the first antimicrobial to increase the spectrum of coverage and does not require market-suppressing antibiotic stewardship. 

Notable Milestones:

  • Last November the FDA cleared an expanded access IND for APT’s PhageBank™ therapy to combat COVID-19-related bacterial infections
  • In February the FDA cleared an IND application for PhageBank™ for the treatment of prosthetic joint infections
  • In March the FDA cleared another IND application for PhageBank™, this time for the treatment of diabetic foot osteomyelitis
  • In May APT raised a $40.75 million Series B investment round led by Deerfield Management Company and existing investor Mayo Clinic
  • In June, APT initiated a Phase 1/2 trial of PhageBank™ in urinary tract infections


The Employer of the Year Award

Award Winner: Novavax

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, and 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.

About Novavax

Novavax, Inc. has been one of the most notable biotechnology companies in the region throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. The company received $1.6B in warp speed contract funding to produce 100M doses of their COVID vaccine — an outstanding award for a small, clinical-stage company with no marketed products. Novavax responded and began to scale their operations, growing from about 450 employees to now 885 employees in the past year (according to LinkedIn).

In order to scale their operation so rapidly and retain a core Novavax culture, they formalized their own SuperNOVA employer brand which was launched in early 2021. Many companies talk about employer branding, but Novavax took it to a new level.

Novavax is now conducting late-stage clinical trials for NVX-CoV2373, its vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. NanoFlu™, its quadrivalent influenza nanoparticle vaccine, met all primary objectives in its pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial in older adults. Both vaccine candidates incorporate Novavax’s proprietary saponin-based Matrix-M™ adjuvant to enhance the immune response and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.

If you find science, speed, and success exhilarating, you’re a SuperNova. Novavax’s growing team is powered by SuperNOVAs.


2021 BioBuzz Awards Wrap-up

We had just over 4,500 individuals across the region share their support for finalists by casting their vote.

Thank you to all who supported our inaugural effort and again for being such a valuable member of the BioBuzz community and the BioHealth Capital Region. 

Here’s to our continued success in 2022 and beyond! 🚀

If you’d like to watch the full version with all winners, enjoy!