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Governor Visits UM BioPark to Showcase Investment in Life Sciences

Governor Martin O'Malley called attention to state investments in technology during a visit on July 31 to the University of Maryland BioPark, where he spent time in corporate laboratories with chief executive officers and their employees.

Jay A. Perman, MD, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), joined O'Malley on the tour and at a news conference, where the governor spoke about the importance of supporting the life sciences. O'Malley noted that the state has a plan to invest $1.3 billion in life sciences by 2020 and has increased tax incentives to encourage biotechnology and research and development.



The visit has been documented in a photo gallery.

The governor's visit included a stop at one of the BioPark's newest tenants, Noxilizer, Inc., which has been moving into its offices and labs on the first floor of 800 W. Baltimore St. over the last few months. The firm is pioneering the development of a unique sterilization technology aimed at hospitals and life science manufacturing. Lawrence Bruder, president and chief executive officer, and numerous employees greeted the governor and explained Noxilizer's techniques.

O'Malley and Perman wore white lab coats as they visited the labs of PathSensors, a BioPark tenant that focuses on environmental testing. President Ted Olsen demonstrated PathSensors' systems for biological identification of pathogens such as ricin. Olsen is a member of the state's Life Sciences Advisory Board. In the photo above, Olsen and PathSensors lab consultant Lucie Jones demonstrate a technique to O'Malley, seated at left, and Perman, right foreground.

James L. Hughes, MBA, chief enterprise and economic development officer and vice president of the University; Dominick Murray, secretary of the state Department of Business & Economic Development; and Judy Britz, PhD, executive director of the Maryland BioTechnology Center, were among those who accompanied O'Malley and Perman on the visits to PathSensors and Noxilizer.

The two companies chosen for the tour are among 30 tenants of the BioPark, where 550 people work in a community of innovative bioscience companies and translational research centers. It stretches along West Baltimore Street on a portion of the UMB campus that lies west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. BioPark tenants include the School of Medicine's Institute for Genome Sciences and the Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases.

The intertwining of entrepreneurial and academic purposes is by design, Perman said. "This is not by accident. These bioparks succeed and what we do at the University of Maryland succeeds because we marry them up," he said.

Corporate and academic collaborators share a rich collaborative environment. "People meet each other in the halls. The adjacency is important, and that's the way science goes forward," he said.

Perman also spoke about workforce development and about educational gains in conjunction with community colleges and high schools. The BioPark is home to the Baltimore City Community College's Life Sciences Institute (LSI). Students trained by the LSI work in internships for the BioPark's tenant companies.

These kinds of partnerships provide "a very significant plus for people in West Baltimore, for people in the city at large, and for Maryland in general," Perman said.

O'Malley's remarks included a look back to a period over a decade ago when he was mayor of Baltimore and the site of the BioPark was a bleak area awaiting the University-led development. "These blocks were pretty desolate, vacant places with tumbleweeds virtually going through them, and now we see building after building," said O'Malley, a UMB alum who graduated from the School of Law in 1988.

O'Malley thanked Jane Shaab, UMB assistant vice president for economic development and the executive director of the BioPark, for playing an integral role in the park's creation.

The first commercial building opened in 2005, and construction is underway on the latest, the $200 million Maryland Proton Treatment Center. Scheduled for completion in 2015, the center will become one of among only a few in the United States to offer this type of advanced radiation therapy. The governor spoke with anticipation about the "targeted, precision cancer treatment" that is expected to bring patients not only from the region but from abroad.

In a statement, the governor's office commended the scientific and educational endeavors of the BioPark: "It is this innovative, collaborative, job-creating, and life-saving work that continues to allow Maryland to compete and win in a 21st-century economy."

Posting Date: 08/05/2013
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu