Tag Archives: Joan Koerber-Walker

AZBio Pioneer Honoree Roy Curtiss, III, Ph.D. of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Photo Courtesy of ASU.

AZBio honors ASU scientist Curtiss

Roy Curtiss, III, Ph.D., of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Arizona Bioindustry Association.

“During his career, Roy Curtiss has had a profound impact on microbiology research and been a true pioneer in developing salmonella-based vaccines that are effective against a range of infectious diseases, which are still the leading cause of worldwide death,” said Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of AZBio. “His contributions since being recruited to Arizona a decade ago have continued unabated, and he is now on the cusp of bringing his remarkable discoveries to the marketplace.”

“Roy’s lifelong dedication and achievements in bioscience research, education and innovation are really quite remarkable, and his efforts have inspired countless life science careers,” said Biodesign Institute Executive Director Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D. “His passion and commitment in taking on the challenges of combating infectious diseases and the impact he is having on urgent societal problems make him a stellar example of the translational research spirit of the Biodesign Institute.”

Curtiss was drawn to ASU President Michael Crow’s vision of a New American University and a new state-of-the-art research enterprise, the Biodesign Institute, which opened in 2004. Shortly after arriving at ASU, Curtiss received the largest support of his career, more than $15.4 million from the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has also received generous and continued support from the National Institutes of Health throughout his career.

Curtiss’ primary focus is alleviating worldwide suffering and death from infectious diseases, particularly in the developing world. At Biodesign, he directs the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, where he oversees a 130-member research team working on more than a dozen projects. He is also a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

One of his major projects is development of a next-generation vaccine against bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia kills more children around the world each year than any other infectious disease, and the rising costs of vaccines has spurred researchers to develop new solutions. Curtiss and his global team are trying to perfect a safe, yet potent vaccine to fight pneumonia and can be tolerated even by newborn babies — and orally administered as a single-dose, low-cost solution. If successful, the new vaccine against bacterial pneumonia promises to outperform existing injectable vaccine in terms of safety, affordability, ease of distribution and effectiveness.

Preliminary studies have been successful, and the vaccine technology has moved forward to human clinical trials. In addition, his team is also targeting vaccine development for a host of other diseases, and to protect poultry and livestock against a broad range of bacterial marauders.

Before coming to ASU in 2004, Curtiss was the George William and Irene Keochig Freiberg professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he chaired the Department of Biology for ten years. His body of published work includes more than 250 reviewed articles. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

A ceremony honoring Curtiss will take place at the AZBio Awards on September 17, 2014 at the Phoenix Convention Center. The AZBio Awards ceremony celebrates Arizona’s leading educators, innovators and companies. Each year, AZBio honors bioindustry leaders from across the state of Arizona who are illustrative of the depth, breadth and expertise of our bioscience industry.

Past recipients of the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement include: David S. Alberts, M.D., Director Emeritus at the Arizona Cancer Center, Raymond L. Woosley, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman Emeritus of the Critical Path Institute, and Thomas M. Grogan, M.D., founder of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.

For registration and more information, go to www.azbio.awards.com.

bioscience

Arizona bioscience industry producing ‘aha’ moments

AZBio Expo 2014 had “aha moments” at every turn. With over 250 entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, legislators, scientists and researchers in attendance, the energy was sizzling and the outlook endless. Here are just a few of the event highlights, appropriately, A to Z:

A – Access to Capital is the key. No money. No honey. Capital fuels innovation and commercialization. In the first panel discussion of the day – Funding Paths for Innovators – AZBio chief Joan Koerber-Walker engaged Mary Ann Guerra (BioAccel), Paul Jackson (Integrus Capital/Worthworm) and Kelly Slone (National Venture Capital Association) in a no-holds barred discussion. “The entire ecosystem has changed,” according to Slone. “After the tech bubble burst, available venture dollars have been virtually cut in half.” Guerra explains that only one in 100 will get angel funding – and then only one in 100 will get venture funding. We need to think of new ways to help our startup entrepreneurs get funding.” Jackson urges innovators to think like investors and offers one solution with his online valuation process, Worthworm.

B – Bridging the Gap with the 21st Century Cures Initiative. “No industry has to face the challenges we face to bring a product to market,” says Koerber-Walker. “We have new hope in the 21st Century Cures Initiative. Google it. Watch the videos, See what they are doing. There is exciting stuff happening and some of it is happening in Arizona.”

C — Cure Corridor. Scottsdale’s Mayor Jim Lane shares his pride and plans for the largest concentration of bioscience businesses in the U.S., the Cure Corridor, bounded on one side by the Scottsdale Airpark on the West, and the Fountain Hills Mayo facility on the East, “a major driver of our economy, with $2½ billion in direct economic impact and $3.5 billion in indirect impact.” According to Lane, “Health and wellness are a part of Scottsdale’s identity. We should never stop asking how we can find new answers alleviate pain, restore health and improve the quality of life.”

D – Discovery. Development. Delivery. Valley Fever Solutions CEO David Larwood shared his company’s formula for achieving success in development and funding – The Five R’s:

Right drug.
Right patient.
Right safety.
Right time. (How long before we can sell it?)
Right reimbursent.

E – Epigenetics and Personalized Medicine. Start-up company INanoBio founder and CEO Bharath Takupalli, explained that the genome sequencing market is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2020. With a unique capability to combine nanotechnology and biomedicine, his company is in the lead for building new solutions now. “We aim to develop a $100 ultrafast nanopore-based desktop sequencer – a point-of-care diagnostic” that will help change the face of healthcare, he explains.

F – Funding needs to be the focus for the future. According to a Flinn Foundation/Batelle report, “Arizona has many bioscience strengths and opportunities, but a substantial increase in private and public investment will be needed over the next decade to realize the [Flinn Foundation’s] Roadmap’s goals.” Last year, Arizona bioscience sector attracted $37 million in venture capital investment, up from $23 million from 2012, but that is only a fraction of the $9.8 billion invested nationally.

The goal is to increase the annual investment up to $40 million for seed capital in emerging companies and up to $125 million in venture capital.

G – Genomic advances hold high hopes for positively disruption. Explaining that healthcare premiums are growing at three times the rate of inflation and wages, Frederic Zenhausern, Ph.D., MBA, president of Whitespace Enterprise, says “The new era of precision healthcare (also called personalized healthcare) will provide more accessibility, transparency and health information to improve – dramatically – quality and lower cost over time.” His start-up company, based in Fountain Hills, develops methods for automating and miniaturizing the workflow processing of biological specimens.

H – Henry Ford.“I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done,” said Henry Ford. So does Robert Penny, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of the International Genomics Consortium and founder and CEO of Paradigm. “Phoenix has become the Grand Central Station for all the aggregating and analyzing cancer tissues. We have 10,000 tumors – and the information is publicly available. This will accelerate cancer discovery at a rate faster than ever,” he says. “This is a tidal wave that Arizona has led. Everyone in this room should be grabbing a surfboard and figuring out how to ride it.”

I – IPO: The nation’s top IPO of 2013 is right here in Chandler. With 380 percent growth in shareholder value, Insys Therapeutics, a commercial-stage specialty pharmaceutical company, ended the year with a market cap of $800 million. Darryl Baker, the chief financial officer, explained how the company, founded in 2002 by Dr. John Kapoor, was determined to discover better ways to deliver existing medications to patients. A sublingual fentanyl spray technology delivers treatments to opioid-tolerant cancer patients and holds real possibilities for better helping patients with acute pain, major burns and pediatric issues. In the R&D pipeline now is the development of a pharmaceutical cannabinoid, aimed at easing epilepsy, peripheral neuropathy and cocaine addiction.

J – Jobs: 107,000 bioscience jobs – good-paying and growing. Arizona has nearly 107,000 bioscience jobs, based on 2012 industry data, and the sector contributes an estimated $36 billion in revenue to the state’s economy, according to a study by the Ohio-based Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. Hospitals account for 83,000 of those jobs and $22 billion of the revenue. Arizona’s average annual wage in the bioscience sector is $62,775, 39 percent higher than the private-sector average, the report said. Not counting hospital jobs, the average wage for bioscience jobs jumps to $85,571. (2013 data).

K – Kalos Therapeutics is building a promising platform for future drug discovery. Start-up innovator Michael Kozlowski, OD, Ph.D., chief science officer of Kalos Therapeutics, explains that their focus on transforming the atrial natriuretic family of peptides engages a natural biochemical mechanism. This approach holds promise for people with pancreatic cancer because it results in a more complete response, reduced side effects and improved safety and a longer period of effectiveness.

L – Let’s leverage every resource, strength, collaboration and person we’ve got! Arizona’s bioscience industry is aiming to increase research revenue for institutions statewide by 69 percent over the next decade to $782 million and attract additional anchors for the sector.

M – Medtronic models aggressive, needs-focused growth. Keynote speaker Ron Wilson, vice president and general manager of the Medtronic Tempe campus made it clear that passion for people runs through his veins. Locating a small manufacturing facility here in 1973, the company’s facility today covers 30 acres, has 900 employees and generates $17 billion in revenues. How do they do it? We follow our founder’s vision still: We understand what the unmet needs are and we apply our knowledge for the good of people all over the world.”

N – Next Level. “Arizona has made unprecedented progress over the last decade in developing the talent, building research infrastructure, and growing its base. Taking it to the Next Level will require new collaborative partnerships, forward looking leaders, and aggressive investments from both the public and private private sectors to take our place in the top tiers globally,” shared Koerber-Walker. ”Now is our time. Let’s get it done!”

O – Orphans no more. Valley fever, considered an orphan disease, hits about 150,000 people a year – 60 percent live in central Arizona. Current treatments have major shortcomings, with about 60 percent of those treated being unresponsive. The result is 2,000 serious cases and 150 deaths a year. It affects pets in nearly equal proportion. David Larwood, CEO of Valley Fever Solutions, has some answers. His company is developing Nikkomycin Z (NikZ) as a dramatically superior potential cure for Valley Fever. To help raise awareness and prevention, the Arizona Board of Regents created Valley Fever Corridor project, a public health program led by University of Arizona College of Medicine’s John Galgiani, MD, who is also the chief medical officer for Valley Solutions.

P – Policymakers are on board. Gov. Jan Brewer’s time is coming to a close and it’s time to decide which candidate can bring their best to bioscience. Recognizing that the Arizona bioscience sector is growing at four times the rate of the national average, candidates Christine Jones, Doug Ducey, Fred Duval, Ken Bennett and Scott Smith shared their ideas on how to ramp up funding and revenues in 90-second videos. Koerber-Walker says, “The most important thing we can do this summer is vote in the primaries.”

Q – Cues: Here are a few Q’s for success. Some lessons learned, courtesy of Robert Penny:

Make sure you have:

Complementary skills and expertise
Trust
Interpersonal chemistry (It’s better to navigate bumps in the road with people you trust than people you don’t!)

Pick the right projects:

Big enough to be worthy of your efforts
Complex enough to need partnerships
Audacious enough to move the field

R – Remembering Polio: Can Looking Back Catapult Us Forward? How did we cure the world of polio? What did it take to conquer the most feared disease of the 20th Century? What threatens our world today and how can we continue to keep people healthy with the right vaccines, for the right person at the right time? Gaspar Laca, state government affairs director at GlaxoSmithKime, engaged David Larwood, CEO and president of Valley Fever Solutions (and a person who has been directly affected by polio) and Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, executive director of The Arizona Partnership for Immunization, in a rousing discussion of what’s happening in Arizona today, the mounting threats of the ”vaccine exemptors,” and what we need to do now. (See Vaccines.)

S – Shoes. Did you see those shoes? “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world!” Enough said.

T – Tucson’s Critical Path Institute creates new tools. A jewel in the bioscience crown – and located right here in Arizona! The Critical Path Institute (C-Path) is a breakthrough organization, creating a new movement: “consensus science.” Keynoter Martha Brumfield. Ph.D, president and CEO, shared what can be achieved when people come together with the belief that a “rising tide floats all boats.” Working to improve the unacceptable 95 percent failure rate in the testing of new drug therapies, C-Path is improving medical product development efficiencies by identifying pathways that integrate new scientific advances into the regulatory review process. Check out their Alzheimer’s clinical trial simulation tool.

U – United we stand. Mayors Jim Lane (City of Scottsdale) and John Lewis (Town of Gilbert) will join Koerber-Walker and an Arizona bioscience-business contingent next week at the 2014 BIO International Convention in San Diego (June 23-26), the world’s largest biotechnology gathering. They will surely scoop up new ideas, new connections – and with any luck, new investment!

V – Vaccines: Get ‘em! Talk about ‘em. Challenge the myths. Explain the realities. Polio. Measles. And whooping cough today. Without proper vaccinations, whooping cough (pertussis) could be the polio of our time. “As science-minded people, the best thing you can do is activate conversations about the importance of vaccinations. Here’s some help: Why immunize?

W – White Hat event brings in national investors. (Apply by July 15th.) “AZBio’s White Hat Investor’s Conference is the first ever life science specific investor conference to be held in Arizona,” says Koerber-Walker. “Kelly Slone [of the National Venture Capital Association] has been an amazing partner to bring this together along with the state bioscience association leaders from across the Rocky Mountain Southwest Region. Investors and investment firms from across the country will be here, so get involved. Even if you feel like you are not ready yet, take the leap and apply to present. “

X – “X” marks the spot for our next big gathering. Wear your White Hat! The West was won by innovators, investors, and prospectors who understood the value of discovery and accepted the challenge of investing in new frontiers. Meet a new generation of biotech and healthcare pioneers at White Hat Investors 2014, the first annual biotech and healthcare investor conference that showcases the best of the Rocky Mountain & Southwest Region.

Bioindustry Associations from across the Rocky Mountain and Southwest Region are coming together to present an opportunity for Angels, Venture Capitalists and Strategic Investors to connect with the best biotech and healthcare investment opportunities from across the Rocky Mountain & Southwest states at White Hat Investors 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona on September 17 & 18, 2014.

Presenting Companies will be selected from the region’s emerging innovator leaders in the fields of:

Diagnostics
Therapeutics
Medical Devices
Health IT

Y – Young Talent is being cultivated. We got it! With nearly 50 abstracts accepted and student presenters presenting at the Expo, Koerber-Walker got it right when she said, “These young people are going to be working on things that we can’t even begin to imagine!” Arizona’s tremendous mentoring people and organizations are sharing knowledge, support and inspiration. For example University of Arizona student Keeley Brown is destined to help the world crack the code on genetically modified foods and farming. (Her presentation was the “Epigenetic Effects of Transgenic Manipulation in Glycine Max (Soybeans).

Zzzzzzzzz – No one fell asleep at this conference! Catherine Leyen, founder and CEO of start-up RadiUp, says she comes to AZBio to stay abreast of the action, connect with like-minded people and soak up inspiration. Her verdict of AZBIO Expo 2014? Mission accomplished!

bioscience

Bioindustry honors Innovators at AZBio Awards

The Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio) today announced that more than 350 leaders from across the State of Arizona will be gathering at the Phoenix Convention Center on October 10, 2013 to celebrate AZBio’s 10thanniversary as Arizona’s statewide bioindustry association and to recognize the leaders, innovators and companies that are making Arizona one of the fastest growing bioscience states in the nation.

“Over the last decade, Arizona’s bioindustry has delivered an aggregate job growth of 45% (2002-2011) and an increase in the number of healthcare and bioscience firms by 31%,” shared AZBio President and CEO Joan Koerber-Walker. “This is the result of executives, innovators, researchers, educators, and elected leaders working together to embrace possibilities and collaboratively create a fast growing industry that is creating high wage jobs and addressing some of our greatest challenges: improving health and creating new industries that leverage our natural resources and our steadily increasing collection of internationally recognized talent.”

In addition to honoring the hundreds of organizations that have worked together over the last 10 years to create and drive life science innovation in Arizona, the AZBio Awards recognize specific thought leaders and industry leaders for their contributions. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about and gain insights from:

  • Thomas M. Grogan, M.D., Founder of Ventana and SVP Medical Affairs at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., a member of the Roche Group and recipient of the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement honoree.
  • Linda Hunt, President and CEO of Dignity Health Arizona, the 2013 Jon W. McGarity Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year.
  • Amanda Grimes of the Mesa Biotechnology Academy in the Mesa Public Schools, recipient of the Michael A. Cusanovich Arizona Bioscience Educator of the Year Award for inspiring students to explore careers in the biosciences.
  • Orphan drug pioneer Leslie Boyer, M.D., founding director of the VIPER Institute at The University of Arizona. With her team of international collaborators developed the FDA approved anti-venom for the scorpion’s sting.
  • John W. Lewis, Mayor of the Town of Gilbert, Arizona recipient of the AZBio Public Service Award for his leadership in attracting and supporting the development of world class research, manufacturing and clinical services in Gilbert.
  • The team from Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year – W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Arizona’s largest life science employer. The Gore Medical Products Division has provided creative therapeutic solutions to complex medical problems for more than 35 years. During that time, more than 35 million innovative Gore Medical Devices have been implanted, saving and improving the quality of lives worldwide Gore has been granted more than 2,000 patents worldwide ranging from polymer processing to medical devices.
  • Dr. Robert Bowser, AZBio Fast Lane Award winner for pioneering new diagnostics for ALS and traumatic brain injury at Iron Horse Diagnostics, Inc.
  • Dr. Garrett Smith, co-founder of Nasseo, Inc., the Fast Lane Award winning company that has developed the FDA approved TiArray™ Dental Implant.
  • Jeff Martin, CEO of Fast Lane Award winner Yulex Corporation and the team that delivers Yulex’s Guayule BioRubber Emulsions and BioRubber Solids that have medical, consumer, and industrial applications to grow an increasingly diverse market community with ultra-pure, high-performance products.
  • And executives from Algae Biosciences, Ventana, Pfizer, Genentech, EY, Northern Arizona University/TGen North, Regenesis Biomedical, Ulthera, VWR, and NACET.

The 8th Annual AZBio Awards will be held Thursday, October 10, 2013 at the Phoenix Convention Center. In addition to the Gala Awards Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the VWR Company Showcase and Student Discovery Showcase sponsored by NAU will highlight the work of Arizona’s current and future life science leaders from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and again from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. so that attendees can see the work being done across the industry and interact with the leaders and future leaders who are driving bioindustry innovation. The event is open to the public and tickets are available for purchase at AZBioAwards.com.

“Almost 100,000 Arizonans are embracing possibilities every day across Arizona’s healthcare and life science sector. Through their efforts, we are making life better here at home and around the world by discovering, developing, and delivering life science innovations,” added Koerber-Walker. “AZBio is honored to have the opportunity to work with them and to bring so many of our leaders together in one place on one day so our community can meet them and learn about them too.”

small business open sign - AZ Business Magazine April 2008

Small Business Is Big Business In Arizona

There’s really no need for small business owners to feel like they have to go it alone in Arizona, not with the variety of programs, organizations and resources available to provide help.

There are obvious places to start. The Arizona Department of Commerce has an online resource center that is filled with links and information. Be sure to download the free resource guide. Also, go to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Arizona District Office Web site to find out about the many resources, services and tools available there.

The Arizona Small Business Association is an organization that serves as an advocate for small businesses and is dedicated to helping them grow. There is a modest $125 annual membership fee that provides access to various services, networking opportunities and value-added programs such as a group health care plan. A worker’s compensation program, in association with SCF Arizona, may lead to bonus dividends based on the safety success of association members.

“Small business is big business in Arizona and small businesses need to understand how to partner, how to connect, how to access resources in a cooperative mode,” says Joan Koerber-Walker, ASBA’s chief executive officer. “And that’s what ASBA gives them.”

The SCORE Association is well-represented in Arizona with chapters across the state. Successful retired executives and business owners provide free one-on-one counseling and stage low-cost seminars that deal with virtually all issues, including raising capital. In fact, according to Chet Ross, chairman of SCORE’s Phoenix chapter, a team of counselors will actually visit a client’s place of business.

Another place to turn for answers is the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network, a partnership between community college districts and the SBA. The AZSBDC offers free business counseling, workshops, programs, and help with technology development and commercialization.

These resources are in place to help businesses of all types, so take advantage of their offerings throughout the start-up process and beyond.

For more information visit the following websites:

sba.gov/localresources/district/az
asba.com
azsbdc.net