Hope, energy, and focus are three traits that Jane M. Shaab, MBA, associate vice president for economic development at University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and executive director of the University of Maryland (UM) BioPark, says are guiding principles of her successful career as a champion of the Baltimore region’s life sciences, technology, and research industries.
She recently was recognized by The Daily Record of Maryland as a 2020 Icon Honors Award winner, a distinction earned by Maryland business leaders over the age of 60 for their “notable successes and demonstration of strong leadership both within and outside of their chosen field.”
Calling her sense of hope “a blessing from above,” Shaab also credits her devotion to causes she believes in as a driver of her accomplishments.
Shaab and the other 24 recipients of the award, including baseball legend Cal Ripken, the late Sen. Paul Sarbanes, and Morgan State University President David Wilson, represent the best of Maryland’s leadership community.
During the Dec. 14 virtual ceremony, Daily Record publisher Suzanne Fischer-Huettner praised the honorees for their remarkable professional achievements and community awareness. “What they focus their attention on really matters,” she said. “What they say is important, and what they do makes a difference for many of us in Maryland.”
What matters to Shaab, a lifelong Baltimore resident, is her tireless commitment to establishing the city as a destination for the biotechnology industry. Her role as a founding member of the development team at the BioPark places her success in full view.
She joined UMB to help the University achieve its vision of creating a university-associated research park, the BioPark, in West Baltimore. As executive director, she leads the development and management of the BioPark, a 14-acre, 470,000-square-foot, world-class biomedical research center immediately adjacent to the UMB campus in the West Baltimore community of Poppleton. In just over 15 years, Shaab has grown the BioPark into Baltimore’s largest cluster of life sciences companies.
UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, praised Shaab for her role in the dynamic success of the BioPark during the awards ceremony. “Jane has been a wonder to work with,” he said. “She is so full of energy and vigor that she singlehandedly has made our BioPark a success.”
Today, three dozen companies and institutes employing over 1,000 people are located in the BioPark’s six buildings. The BioPark community is a diverse mix of established biotech organizations, early-stage startups, state-of-the-art medical facilities, and education and workforce training programs. Shaab is widely credited with building a sense of community among the tenants and with the neighbors surrounding the project.
In addition to a longstanding commitment to the Maryland business community, Icon awardees must show a demonstrated commitment of service to the community. Shaab, a natural connector and tireless advocate for the city, has been an ambassador to the West Baltimore neighborhoods bordering the BioPark since the outset of the project. She has met with neighbors in their living rooms to understand their needs and stewarded more than $1 million in BioPark tenant project support for community-requested funding for schools, safety measures, and job training needed in the immediate area. She also champions UMB’s community engagement efforts, most recently leading the University’s committee aimed at supporting the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Shaab, connecting with the surrounding community is an important part of the BioPark’s success. In her acceptance speech, she noted how the BioPark, neighbors, and commercial partners have joined hands to focus on “what we can do together to make our lives better — all of our lives.”
“We’re focused on the future of West Baltimore and our city and of the potential that we haven’t even begun to tap,” she continued.
The BioPark plans to expand, nearly doubling the space available to life sciences and technology companies, including space for community and entrepreneurial pursuits of all kinds. Shaab is an ardent believer that innovation will continue to build a vibrant Baltimore City.
Enthusiastic BioPark colleagues shared their delight with Shaab’s recognition on social media. “Congratulations, Jane Shaab!” they tweeted. “We are so proud of your leadership and dedication to Baltimore. You are truly a Maryland Icon!”