Thursday, November 05, 2009

Recognizing the Best of Colorado’s Bioscience Industry

The Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA) has released the winners of its 2009 Awards Program. The announcement is made by John Collar, CBSA President and CEO, who says the CBSA awards program showcases and honors those individuals and companies making a significant difference to Colorado’s vibrant bioscience industry this year.

Official presentation of the awards occurs Tuesday, November 10, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., at the Denver Grand-Hyatt, 1750 Welton. Held in conjunction with the 2009 BioWest Conference & Expo, registration information is available at BioWest is the region’s preferred venue for meeting investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, students, teachers and key industry vendors.

Eric Alexander, skier, rock climber and mountaineer will serve as the keynote speaker for the event as the Colorado Bioscience Association celebrates its sixth anniversary. In addition, Steffan Tubbs, host of 850 KOA’s Colorado’s Morning News and KBDI-TV’s “Studio 12,” will act as the Master of Ceremonies for the award presentations.

Recipients of the CBSA’s 2009 awards include:

* Partner of the Year – Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) - The CBSA, as well as Colorado’s bioscience companies, rely on numerous, highly-respected partners to be successful. Since the inception of the CBSA, the Colorado Office of Economic Development has been an outstanding partner and friend to the bioscience industry in the state. The OEDIT has been engaged with CBSA on a number of levels, from helping ensure that Colorado’s bioscience industry remains a top priority for the state to the creation of the Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program. The great success this state’s bioscience industry has seen over the years is due in great part to the dedication and hard work of everyone at the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. For more information:

* Lifetime Achievement – Thomas Cech, PhD – Dr. Thomas Cech, Nobel Laureate, Distinguished Professor for the University of Colorado, Director of the new Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology (CIMB) and Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has become a leader in the bioscience industry and has encouraged others to follow his path. Dr. Cech first joined the faculty of the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1978 where he became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 1988 and a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1990. In 1982 Dr. Cech and his research group discovered that RNA was not restricted to being a passive carrier of genetic information, but could have an active role in cellular metabolism. This discovery of self-splicing RNA provided the first exception to the long-held belief that biological reactions are always catalyzed by proteins. This year Dr. Cech returned to Colorado full-time as the University of Colorado as the Director of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, coming from his post as the President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2000. For more information:

* Lifetime Achievement – Leslie Leinwand, PhD – Dr. Leslie Leinwand, Interim Director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, Chief Science Officer of the new Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, and Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder is a true leader in the bioscience industry. Since 2003, Dr. Leinwand has lead the initiative to begin the CIMB in order to foster new research, teaching and technology development in the fields of life sciences, physical sciences, math, computational sciences and engineering which is on the cutting edge of bioscience education. She is also a co-founder of Myogen Inc., a highly successful CU spin-out that was acquired by Gilead for $2.5 billion. Following the acquisition of Myogen, she began Hiberna Corporation which is studying the Burmese python in order to develop treatments to combat cardiac hypertrophy. For more information:

* Company of the Year – Accera, Inc. - During the past 12 months Accera has made several notable achievements at the state and national level. In March the company achieved the goal that all start-up companies are strivinv for, they successfully launched Axona, a new prescription therapeutic product for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), nationally in the US. This is the first new evidence-based therapeutic for AD in 10 years, and the first to demonstrate a powerful pharmacogenomic-based efficacy. Accera built its own commercial development capability by utilizing many Colorado-based companies for marketing, sales, manufacturing, etc. and hired new commercial employees from the local biotech market thereby putting their dollars to work in order to further grow the Colorado biotech industry. Today, Accera is the only Colorado-based company with a therapeutic product on the market. Accera is the first and only private biotech company in the US to have researched, developed and launched a prescription CNS product, and to have done it in record time – 8 years from inception to launch. For more information:

* Rising Star – miRagen Therapeutics - miRagen Therapeutics was founded in 2007 to improve patients’ lives by developing innovative microRNA based therapeutics for the treatment of cardiovascular and muscle disease. As of June 2009, miRagen has achieved several key milestones resulting in the approval of the second tranche of their 2008 Series A financing of $8 million. In addition, miRagen secured a $4 million extension of the Series A, bringing the total funding of the Series A financing to $12 million. The company also engaged three new investors Amgen Ventures, Broadview Ventures and The Peierls Foundation who join founding investors Atlas Venture and Boulder Ventures. For more information:

* Volunteer of the Year – Dan Mitchell – Dan Mitchell, Partner at Sequel Ventures, sits on the board of the CBSA and is an active member of the board. His commitment to the organization is evident when we take a look back on this year’s first Rocky Mountain Life Science Investor Conference, which would not have been possible without Dan’s hard work, dedication and support. Dan was instrumental in engaging outside investors to attend the conference, and securing sponsorships for the Investor Conference. Along with the Investor Conference, Dan has been an active participant in many of CBSA’s programs and has truly given his all to see the success of this organization. For more information visit:

* Educator of the Year – Dr. Corinne Carlson – Dr. Corinne Carlson is a biology and chemistry teacher at Rock Canyon High School in Douglas County. Dr. Carlson is a PhD in biochemistry and comes back to teach high school after working as a researcher and professor at the University of Colorado. Dr. Carlson returned back to teaching high school students due to her passion and desire to inspire young people into the biosciences and chemical science orientated careers.

* Educator of the Year – Dr. Todd Bergren is the Chair of the State Faculty Advisory Council (SFAC) for the community college system of Colorado and also is a full time biology professor at the Community College of Aurora (CCA) where he has taught for the last 15 years. Dr. Bergren is known by both students and teachers alike as a truly passionate and inspirational teacher. Dr. Bergren has impacted numerous students to achieve their goals and to pursue the impossible, and through his research and teachings he has inspired many students to understand and love science.

* Chairman’s Award – Erin Silver, MPH- Erin Silver has been the contract lobbyist for the CBSA since 2005. Through Erin’s commitment to the organization and to our companies, the CBSA has successfully passed each legislative initiative that they have put forth to the state’s General Assembly. The legislation has provided $26.5 million for proof-of-concept and early stage companies, tax incentives and credits which encourage bioscience companies to move to the state and remain here, and they have helped create infrastructure to support the bioscience community. Her awareness of our industry’s needs and her brilliant ability to advocate on its behalf has made the CBSA the preeminent industry organization in Colorado. For more information:

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