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UCSD Research Internship Speed Dating Event April 22

Posted by Mary Canady April 9th, 2014 .
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UCSD is hosting its second “Research Internship Speed Dating” event. This year’s theme is in Enriching Human Life and Society.  The purpose of this event is to connect local life science companies with research minded UCSD undergraduates through a “speed dating” format. Each company will have a chance to meet with 10 students (7 minutes each) studying bioengineering, bioinformatics, chemistry and biochemistry, biology, and more, to determine a match. There will also be a networking session after the one-on-one meetings for companies to network with other students. Students are looking for internships, volunteer positions and part-time jobs that provide opportunities to exercise their passion for research.

Being one of the top-ranked public research universities, UCSD has bright students who bring energy, enthusiasm, and a new/different perspective and ideas to companies. Furthermore, by providing students with research-oriented positions you are giving back to the local community and economy by developing and mentoring young life science professionals. So come and join us for this important event.

The event will be held April 22 from 4:30-6:30 PM at UCSD Price Center West (Parking Provided), register here.


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SDBN’s #BIO2014 Snapshot 4/1/2014

Posted by Mary Canady April 1st, 2014 .
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BIO14_master_ads5_PartnerThe Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2014 convention is coming to San Diego June 23-26 and we are excited to be a part of it. We’re gearing up with events and activities and will provide regular “snapshots” of activities leading up to the event here on the blog and our other social media channels.

  • Early bird registration. BIO provides a wide range of options to attend the convention and offers valuable sessions, partnering, and exhibits. When it’s in our own backyard, it really makes a lot of sense to attend, get started here as early bird rates end May 1st.
  • Volunteering Opportunities. Still looking for more savings? Volunteer at BIO for two days and you’ll get two free days, sign up here by April 8.
  • Buzz of BIO. Know an innovative, R&D focused company building partnerships within the industry? Nominate them by April 8th to be the Buzz of BIO and winners will receive complimentary BIO passes, including partnering and the opportunity to present at the Business Forum. Nominate a local company, this is our chance to highlight our best and brightest.
  • Scientific American’s Preview to WorldView 2014. Last week Scientific American and BIO hosted a Google Hangout to discuss biotechnology innovation on a global scale. They discussed issues that bring regions together towards a common goal, as well as the need for each area to play to its strengths. Watch the video and let us know–how best do we play to our strengths in San Diego?
  • Ways to participate. We’ll be offering ways that you can participate via events, social media, etc. For now, follow @sdbn on Twitter and the hashtags #BIO2014 and #BIO1x1. Sign up for updates here and join the LinkedIn group. If there’s an event you’d like us to plan or a topic you’d like to see covered on our blog, let us know!

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SDBN Discount for Biopharmaceutical Development & Production Week: ACT NOW!

Posted by Mary Canady March 17th, 2014 .
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bdp14San Diego Biotechnology Network is excited to announce that we have partnered with IBC Life Sciences to offer you a 20% standard rate discount to attend the upcoming Biopharmaceutical Development & Production Week (BDP Week) event taking place at the Hilton Bayfront on March 24-27. (see details below)

This event provides you the most in-depth coverage of bioprocessing methods in the field, to give you the tools you need to develop and manufacture the increasingly diverse and complex molecules emerging in the biopharmaceutical pipeline. The event features 9 conference tracks, 800 attendees, 65 exhibitors and so much more.

You can view a detailed list of all the speakers and topics to be covered online at: http://bit.ly/1o1TbJa or you can download the complete event brochure (PDF) at: http://bit.ly/1kRwPvp

Benefit from a Quality 4-Day Education:

  • 175+ Presentations giving you balanced & comprehensive coverage from concept to commercialization
  • 6 Industry Keynotes covering lifecycle management,  flexible production, drug quality, innovation manufacturing, integration & innovation, and contamination prevention
  • 48 Case Studies to provide new ideas to help you improve  your speed, quality and efficiency 50+ Scientific Posters to showcasing today’s hottest findings to help you accelerate your own Research
  • 65 Presentations with New Data presentations to help you understand and plan for what lies ahead
  • 7 Interactive Q&A Sessions in which you can cross-fertilize ideas with scientists, engineers and executives in upstream & downstream development, analytical R&D, quality, regulatory, engineering and manufacturing
  • 4 Two-Day Training Courses to help you advance your career and gain in-depth knowledge of the key stages of bioprocessing
  • 20+ New Product Launches help you evaluate today’s best products and technologies to get a leg up on your competition
  • 14 Technology Workshop presentations to expedite you research process and help you with your future planning and purchase decisions.
  • Regulatory Views from the US FDA you up-to-date on the most current regulatory expectations

Don’t Miss Your Opportunity for Face-to-Face Networking:

  • Network face to face with 800+ Scientists, Engineers and Executives in attendance
  • 60+ Exhibitors showcasing process improvement technologies to help you overcome bioprocessing challenges today
  • 15 dedicated Opportunities to “Mix and Mingle” with colleagues during receptions & social functions, including BDP’s fun:

-    Beach party – Back by popular demand

-    Mexican Fiesta Networking Reception

-    Mardi Gras Networking Reception

New this Year! BDP Week Connect – the official event partnering tool and conference app.  You can view the attendee list, request meetings with attendees, score speaker presentations and so much more

Special Discount for SDBN LinkedIn group members: In working with IBC, we have negotiated an exclusive discount for our members to join us at the conference for 20% off the standard conference rates*. There are 2 and 4 day conference packages available to fit your needs.

To take advantage of this offer, you may register on line at: http://bit.ly/1fFzMfn  or by calling 800.390.4078800.390.4078. To ensure your 20% savings, mention priority code BDP14SDBN when registering before March 19.  This offer is for new registrations only.

We hope you can join us there and take advantage of our conference savings.


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Society For Lab Screening And Automation 2014 Conference Recap #SLAS2014

Posted by Greg Mrachko January 30th, 2014 .
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The 3rd Annual Society of Laboratory and Automation Screening Conference (SLAS2014) was held at the San Diego Convention Center on 1/18-22.  It was a reprieve for many as it was an escape from the polar vortex in their home town, whereas for others it was a short commute to the harbor for $15/day parking in the convention garage or using a $12 three-day Trolley boarding pass.  Numerous major companies were featured such as Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, GNF, and Bristol-Myers Squibb plus universities, research institutes and a fair share of locals like TSRI, Sanford-Burnham and ActivX Biosciences not to mention others who traveled from as far as Europe, China and Australia.

SLAS2014 kicked off with the keynote presentation by Dr. Eric Topol, formerly founder of The Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and currently Scripps Health Chief Academic Officer, Director of Translational Science Institute, and practicing cardiologist.  The likely basis for the choice of Topol is his reputation as a physician-scientist interested in genomics and wireless sensors and the fact that drug discovery was at the root of the majority of conference presentations.  Topol was indeed successful in his objective of giving a stimulating talk on the democratization of medicine and its hand-held devices either in development or entering the market that are going to change our lives in the near future.

One way to sum up Topol’s presentation would be to recount either a reference to himself or the emerging physician of tomorrow, that being “Dr. Smartphone.”  The human “physiome” is being digitized by countless new wireless devices and wearable sensors or skin tattoos plugging into your smartphone falling under the scrutiny of the FDA.  They include Bluetooth hearing aids, cardiograms and blood sugar recorded on your smartphone, the WheezoMeter for asthma monitoring of which future versions could include the digitization of breadth in a cancer sensor, and smart contact lenses for diabetics to help with measurement of blood glucose (also featured recently in the San Diego Union Tribune).  Topol reminded us that we have already entered a third digital revolution thanks to rapid advancement of technology which has resulted in more information being generated since 2011 than the sum up to that point in history.  All of that available and constant generation of information, especially in and by our hand-held devices, has lead to cartoons in which mankind is referred to as “homo-distractus”.  Topol included other visual aids describing the advancements in medicine by its “creative destruction” which included a comic strip of a patient at a doctor’s appointment explaining the reason for his visit as being, “my gallbladder light on my smartphone came on”, and a video clip of his interview on The Colbert Report in which he turned it into a mock doctor’s appointment by recording a scan of Colbert’s recently injured ear drum on his smartphone.

Topol also spoke a little about his own collaborative research as a physician/scientist.  As a cardiologist, he shared information about technology that goes beyond measurement of cholesterol, including biosensors for endothelial cells in the blood stream which can be cardiac muscle specific biomarkers or non-myocardial tissue markers, such as troponin T or C-reactive protein, respectively, indicative of an acute coronary syndrome such as higher risk for myocardial infarction.  As a genomic scientist, he spoke of his vision for genome-enabled individualized medicine throughout life or from “pre-womb to tomb” as the “new medicine”, a graduation from today’s practice of population or “old medicine”.

Topol concluded by leaving us with the thought that cadaver dissection class will soon be in the shadow of genome dissection class at medical school and that students will graduate not with a stethoscope around their necks but instead with a smartphone scanner/biosensor in their lab coat pocket.

The full-daily conference symposia that followed the keynote and continued for the next two days were Assay Development and Screening (ADS), Automation and High Throughput Technologies (AHTT), Informatics and Micro/Nano Technologies (MNT).

A presentation by Sumita Pennathur of the University of California-Santa Barbara in the MNT symposia was that of her Army Research Office and W.M. Keck Foundation multi-million dollar funded research on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) fabricated nanofluidic channels.  Pennathur’s objective is to create and manipulate the environment in which proteins perform their function so as to understand their underlying mechanisms, for example in the regulation of cellular processes, and thus develop a break-through proteomic analytical system.  Current bioanalytical methods such as ELISA or SPR do not analyze proteins at low abundance in confined spaces such as that inside the cell and also require surface attachment.  Pennathur presented results of studies using model proteins to demonstrate the first nanofluidic-based proteomic analyses, for example the effect of secondary structure variation and salt concentration on mobility.

Joseph Wang of the University of California-San Diego gave a presentation in the MNT symposia that essentially converted the science fiction in the movie Fantastic Voyage released in 1966 to what is becoming his contribution to today’s nanomedicine.  A miniaturized nuclear-powered submarine with miniaturized human pilots explored the human body for disease in the movie whereas Wang has engineered nanomotor-based biosensors for exploration and analysis, such as one referred to as the UCSD Microrocket.  Wang’s nanomotors are propelled by either the electrocatalytic decomposition of a chemical fuel or in a fuel-free manner such as with zinc or magnetics, respectively.  The applications include motion-based assays which facilitate measurement or detection of an interaction arising from capture, sorting or transport of a biomolecule from a change in velocity or distance travelled.  Examples were presented that involved functionalization of the nanomotor with a bioreceptor for targeting capability which could be coupled to drug delivery or biomarker detection including circulating tumor cells.  The application of molecularly imprinted polymers to the functionalization of the nanomotors were demonstrated to be useful in the design of biocatalytic propulsion as a means of analysis, for example in protein transport or testing water quality in which toxins act to inhibit the biocatalyst and thus reduce their propulsion characteristics.

In the half-day Special Topics: Disruptive Technologies symposia, Michael Bandell of GNF presented his research on the challenge of developing a screen for the perception of things like temperature and pressure.  The title of his talk was “How Do We Feel: Mechanisms of Thermo- and Mechano-transduction”.  His talk revolved around a recently discovered ion channel that is considered to be a mechanical stress and or chemical sensor, known as member 1 of the transient receptor potential cation channel belonging to sub-family A, or TRPA1.  Bandell also related another recent finding made locally at Scripps Research Institute and UCSD on a protein required for mechanically-activated currents in neurons which the researchers dubbed Piezo, which is derived from the Greek piesi meaning pressure.  The detection of mechanical force has clinical relevance due to its involvement in certain physiological function such as blood pressure regulation, hearing and pain.  The Scripps and UCSD researchers thus far have implemented low throughput screening methods to characterize mechano-transduction proteins involving the observation of genetically engineered fruit fly larvae twisting away from being harshly poked.  Bandell presented his high throughput method involving the application of an acoustic transducer to deliver mechanical stimulation of an ion channel which resulted in current from calcium flux which acted as the assay.

Several technologies took center stage at the AHTT symposia.  Mass spectroscopy (MS) has increased in its usage or acceptance as a screening technology platform for drug discovery not just because it is a label-free method but primarily due to advances that have lead to greater sample/assay throughput.  The surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy technology platform by SensiQ Technologies has kept SPR at the forefront as an analytical tool in hit identification and hit/lead characterization and optimization.  The new paradigm introduced by SensiQ involves advances in microfluidics such that a concentration gradient of sample over several orders of magnitude can be achieved with a single injection resulting in determination of a binding constant in up to one-tenth the experiment time.  The method involving analysis of biomolecular interaction by back-scattering interferometry by Molecular Sensing was also a method in several presentations.

Karen Maegley of Pfizer Oncology in La Jolla, CA has implemented RapidFire technology from Agilent Technologies coupled to triple quadrupole and quadrupole-time-of-flight MS detection to reduce sampling time from several minutes to less than 10 seconds to develop a technology platform for the characterization and screening of a multitude of epigenetic enzyme targets such as isoprenyl cysteine carboxyl methyltransferase (ICMT).  RapidFire technology increases throughput of conventional LC-MS in part by implementing solid-phase extraction in place of liquid chromatography.  Maegley presented results from multiple reaction monitoring, real-time enzyme kinetic parameter characterization, evaluation of ICMT as a target for cancer treatment by gene silencing or knockdown via RNA interference technology and monitoring of multiple enzyme reaction products with this quantitative and highly sensitive label-free assay method.  It sounded like if Maegley gets her way, the results she may present at her next conference using the MS screening platform in her enzymology lab will be those from a fragment-based drug design approach in the Pfizer epigenetic portfolio.

RapidFire by Agilent is one of several enabling advancements in front-end automation technology for MS as a detection method for screening in drug discovery.  Andrew Wagner of Bristol-Myers Squibb presented several more enabling front-end technologies that have resulted in throughput of sampling for MS to match if not exceed that of conventional plate reader platforms for discovery and assessment of ADME profiles for lead drugs.  Those front-end advancements included multiplexing of HPLC systems, staggered parallel sample injections, dual-arm high-speed autosampling and acoustic nano-dispensing as an enabling sample preparation technology for high throughput laser desorption ionization MS.  The application of these front-end automation technologies resulted in the screening time of a 384 well plate being reduced from nine hours for traditional LC-MS to three minutes which is comparable to conventional plate reader assays.

The presentation of front-end automation technology advancements continued by Hui Zhang of Pfizer who presented on conversion of the injection format from a discreet to cassette analysis which reduced process time for a 384 well plate four-fold.  Another front-end automation technology advancement was presented by Shuwen Sun from the University of Michigan who was screening for modulators of sirtuin 1 deacetylase which could have therapeutic applications in age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s.  Sun introduced their application of droplet-based microfluidics as an enabling technology for high throughput electrospray ionization, a platform which they dubbed a “mass spectrometry plate reader” given that they could reformat samples from eight 384 well plates into 3096 droplets in less than 13 minutes for analysis by a triple quadrupole MS in under 35 min in the screening of an 80 compound epigenetic library.

Another label-free assay technology which received a fair amount of attention in the AHTT symposia was back-scattering interferometry (BSI).  BSI is nearly a two decade old method of detection initially used in capillary electrophoresis, but has been in the spot light over the last several years because it offers advantages over other biomolecular binding interaction analytical methods such as SPR.  BSI is performed with target protein that is tether-free or free-solution including under native-like environment such as membrane integrated as for transmembrane receptors like GPCRs.  BSI is a mass- and matrix-independent binding assay for a change in molecular conformation.  Two such presentations were by Scot Weinberger of Molecular Sensing and Jeff Reagan of Amgen, who each presented research on characterization of allosteric modulators in drug discovery.  Reagan’s was on the characterization of calcimimetics in the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism.  The mechanism of action as determined by the application of BSI is rescue of an inactivating mutation of the calcium binding receptor by its positive allostery.  Reagan pointed out less advantageous aspects of other methods, for example the Biacore which measures mass changes that occur upon binding or isothermal calorimetry which requires high solubility of biomolecules.  An advantage of BSI is that there is no non-specific binding component because it does not induce a conformational change.  The strategy of high throughput screening by NMR and the determination of changes in chemical shift as an indicator of an efficacious change in molecular conformation was another method presented by Maurizio Pellecchia in screening for inhibitors of protein-protein interactions; however, Reagan pointed out that protein NMR typically requires large amounts of protein.


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New SDBN Partnering Meetings a Success

Posted by DeeAnn Visk January 16th, 2014 .
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Networking San Diego

Discussion during partnering event.

A new variation on networking by the San Diego Biotechnology.Network was a smashing success.  Held at the Green Flash Brewery, the addition of the partnering event offered a great opportunity for companies to meet for 10 minute intervals with individuals wanting to talk to them.  This new partnering technique offered great opportunities for both employers and prospective employees.  One hundred and fifty meetings took place from 5:30pm to 6:30pm with many companies participating.


Reveal Biosciences histology CRO

Claire Weston, CEO of Reveal Biosciences


Claire Weston, from Reveal Biosciences, remarked afterwards, “The partnering meetings were great.  We were able to connect with many companies in one evening and had some lively and productive discussions.  We are already scheduling several follow-up meetings that will hopefully result in interesting partnerships moving forward.  It was a really productive and fun evening!”

Speed networking—rotating through numerous individuals in 3 to 4 minute intervals—also went off without a hitch. The event is part of the SDBN’s mission to connect local life science companies using online resources and events. Larger conferences, such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization, also taking place in San Diego this coming June, have had much success with face to face partnering meetings. The SDBN event coincided with the JP Morgan Healthcare conference which took place in San Francisco, which is famous for both its exclusiveness (there is no public website) and its formal and informal partnering. The SDBN has plans to leverage its company directory  in the future to facilitate local partnering meetings several times a year.

San Diego networking

Speed Networking event at Green Flash Brewery Monday, January 13, 2014