BioScience under the Big Sky
Spring 2022 Newsletter
Please Welcome
New and Renewing Members:

Beaverton, Oregon

Whitefish, Montana

Wolf Creek, Montana

Hall of Fame
Montana BioScience Alliance Hall of Fame 2021

Our 2021 Hall of Fame inductee is M. Michelle Hood, FACHE, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, American Hospital Association

Michelle Hood’s broad range of experience, including time in Montana, made her perfect for the job of EVP and COO of the American Hospital Association – a position she assumed in April 2020. The AHA represents nearly 5,000 hospitals and other healthcare related systems and 43,000 individual members. Prior to joining the AHA, she served as a health care executive for over 40 years, including more than 20 years as a CEO. She also served a full term on the AHA Board of Trustees. She brings a special insight into the challenges facing rural hospitals and healthcare systems like those in Montana.

Ms. Hood has been on the front-line leading healthcare organizations facing a changing environment. One significant challenge, she says, has been the COVID pandemic, which continues to have a devastating impact on a workforce that is dedicated to helping people and their communities.

“Healthcare workers are drained – emotionally, physically, and psychologically.”

Still, Ms. Hood says, digitization of health care received a boost from the pandemic. What had been a struggle to convince people that care can be delivered in many modes is now more accepted. Because fewer people are available to deliver services, more non-traditional methods will be practiced.

In the early 2000s, Ms. Hood was the President and CEO of the Montana region for Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health Systems, which includes hospitals in Billings, Butte, and Miles City, along with clinics in Montana and Wyoming. During that time, she demonstrated her interest in and knowledge of the bioscience industry and was a key contributor to setting the course for the Montana BioScience Alliance, which was just beginning to form at that time. She agreed to serve on the inaugural MBA board and helped lead it to becoming an organization that actively supports bioscience research and collaborates with others on important issues related to the biosciences in Montana. She says this experience gave her a perspective on the important role bioscience research plays in serving patients.

Member News
Vibliome Therapeutics Spins Off New Company, Raises Additional Funding
Press Release
February 24, 2022
Vibliome Therapeutics, LLC, announced today that it has executed an Asset Sale and License Agreement with Beartooth Therapeutics, Inc., for two of its proprietary kinase inhibitor programs against undisclosed targets. Beartooth Therapeutics is a new company co-founded by Vibliome and Deerfield Management, which plans to finalize development candidates and advance the programs into clinical testing for oncology indications. The terms of the asset sale agreement were not disclosed.
Vibliome also announced today that it has closed on a $22mm extension on its Series A financing from Deerfield Management. "We are very excited about the amount of progress we've been able to make in such a short period of time," said Robert Goodwin, Vibliome’ s CEO. "We have established that our approach to kinase inhibitor development can generate novel chemical matter with high potency and selectivity against compelling clinical targets for precision medicine. The additional resources will allow us to advance multiple development programs in parallel."

Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute Will Offer Elevated Cancer Care Experience with Upcoming Remodel

From 3 KRTV Great Falls- Brand Spotlight

Benefis Health System announced plans on Feb. 15, 2022, to renovate Sletten Cancer Institute, which has been a beacon of hope for cancer patients across north central Montana since it opened in 2005. Benefis Sletten Cancer Institute has remained on the forefront of advanced cancer care, and the center’s remodel will re-imagine the space to promote new paths to prevention, early detection, and survivorship.

The project will dramatically increase the building’s pharmacy and infusion capacity while adding clinic space for additional providers to accommodate ongoing growth. Further building enhancements and unique feature additions planned as part of the renovation are also expected to strengthen the patient experience offered at the center. Additional details are forthcoming, and the remodeled center is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2023.

Gaize, Inc. closes $1.2 million USD seed financing for their non-invasive cannabis impairment detection device

Gaize, Inc. has announced receipt of $1.2 million in seed capital for their non-invasive, real-time cannabis impairment detection device. The product will be sold to law enforcement agencies, and businesses with safety-critical employees.

By Ken Fichtler
March 03, 2022
Gaize, Inc. today announced the close of $1.2 million USD in seed capital for their non-invasive impairment detection platform. Beginning with cannabis, the company is creating a self-contained and portable product that can detect impairment in real-time.

The company, which was started in 2021, is led by Ken Fichtler, formerly the Director of Economic Development for the State of Montana. “The majority of US states have legalized cannabis, yet there’s no device that can detect active cannabis impairment. This immediately struck me as one of the most important unsolved problems in our society.” Fichtler will use the seed capital to hire for several key roles, as well as to finalize and launch the product. He continued, “Most people believe that cannabis should be legal, but they also agree that we need to have a way to know if people are too high to be driving or operating equipment. That’s the baseline for legalizing cannabis safely, and Gaize is the answer.”
Golden Helix: Known for Sequencing Data Analysis and Its Work Culture
From CIO Views
Golden Helix, a Montana-based global bioinformatics company, is laser-focused on providing innovative NGS analysis software to their customers. Founded in 1998, they have been at the forefront of the genomic revolution while empowering the world’s top clinicians and researchers to derive meaning from their increasing volume of genetic data

Not only is Golden Helix recognized as a top biotech company worldwide, the Montana-based company is equally as dedicated to fostering a healthy workplace and supporting each of their employees. From competitive wages to comprehensive medical insurance to profit sharing and paid educational courses or the office favorite free lunch perk, internal growth and development make up the core of Golden Helix’s work culture.

With extensive experience in establishing organizations and great leadership and management skills, Andreas Scherer, Ph.D., President and CEO of Golden Helix, is a proven change agent with a track record of jump-starting organizations. He’s also known for working with Fortune 500 businesses and fast-growing private companies to help solve tough business issues. As the CEO, Dr. Scherer is responsible for the company’s vision and strategy, as well as ensuring that shareholder expectations are met. On a day-to-day basis, he removes roadblocks and works to create a dynamic, enjoyable, and rewarding atmosphere.
Inimmune Named in Top 20 Innovative Immuno-Oncology Companies in the US
Investor News, News
Jan 18, 2022
The immuno-oncology market has grown at a compound rate of 10%, from $57 billion to $69 billion in 2021. It is expected to reach around $98 billion by 2025.

This is a highly competitive market, so companies in this sector have to innovate rapidly by creating novel drugs and therapies.
BioScience Laboratories Gains CDC Approval to Test All Known Strains of SARS-CoV-2
March 11, 2022
BioScience Laboratories, a Nelson Labs company located in Bozeman, MT, and a leader in topical antimicrobial-product testing in the consumer, pharmaceutical, and medical-device industries, operates a biosafety-level-3 (BSL-3) laboratory that was inspected by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 22 September 2021. The CDC has since confirmed that the Bozeman facility’s BSL-3 lab and related procedures adequately meet CDC guidelines for BioScience Laboratories to test all common and concerning strains of SARS-CoV-2 and other potentially dangerous pathogens.

During the past two years we have seen how rapidly SARS-CoV-2 has mutated, with the Omicron variant being the most recent example. “This recent inspection by the CDC confirms that the appropriate biosafety measures are indeed in place in the Bozeman facility to allow BioScience Laboratories to test all the variants of SARS-CoV-2” said Joe Shrawder, President of Nelson Labs. “BioScience Laboratories is among the first commercial BSL-3 labs to pass this inspection.”

Montana/ University News
UM and MSU both earn prestigious designation as research universities

The University of Montana in Missoula and Montana State University in Bozeman have achieved “R1” designations for their research programs. The “R1” classification is conferred by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education organization based on factors including research expenditures, staffing, and number of doctorates awarded.

“Montana State’s successes in research are thanks to the efforts of many people across our campus and across the state of Montana,” said university President Waded Cruzado. “We are fortunate to have a group of dedicated individuals and partners who understand the intrinsic value of research and the creation of art. These endeavors, as we have said for years, can change lives and benefit our communities and society.”

“Earning R1 validates the impressive research and hard work of many outstanding people at the University of Montana,” UM President Seth Bodnar said. “This classification puts us in good company among the top research institutions in the world. UM has become many things during its 129-year history, and now we can add to that our status as a nationally and globally known center for research. This should help us attract even more world-class faculty, as well as the undergraduate and graduate students who will learn from them.”

MSU announced in September that, for the third year in a row, it had recorded an all-time high for research expenditures, with more than $193 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2021. That was a 16% increase over the previous year’s record, as reported to the National Science Foundation. Research expenditures at MSU have topped $100 million per year for more than a decade.

Research spending at UM has soared in recent years. The $55 million reported in fiscal year 2014 swelled to a UM-record $138 million this past year. UM is known for its work in wildlife biology, forestry, pharmacy, chemistry, climate change and more. In 2020, the vaccine research by UM’s Center for Translational Medicine landed the University on a list titled “Best Universities Solving the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

Read more about the UM designation here. Read more about the MSU designation here.

The Montana BioScience Alliance congratulates both universities on this achievement.
Montana State to expand collaborative health research as part of $63 million partnership

By Marshall Swearingen, MSU News Service
April 13, 2022

Montana State University will play a leading role in improving medical care and public health across the Northwest through collaborative research as part of a partnership with one of the nation’s top medical schools that is backed by a new $63 million grant.
Researchers in Blake Wiedenheft’s lab work on a project related to detecting and understanding variants of the novel coronavirus on May 21, 2021. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez
The funding, from the National Institutes of Health, will support the Institute of Translational Health Sciences at the University of Washington for an additional five years. Similar to the WWAMI Medical Education Program that allows students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho to pay in-state tuition at MSU while earning medical degrees from UW's top-ranking School of Medicine, ITHS runs cooperative programs that facilitate and apply medical research across the multi-state region.

"This is about building partnerships among scientists, clinicians and communities to tackle some of the most complex health issues of our time,” said Jason Carter, MSU's vice president of research, economic development and graduate education. “It's a big win for MSU students, faculty and ultimately the citizens of Montana and the whole region."

MSU undergraduate admitted to prestigious graduate program in bioinformatics
By Marshall Swearingen, MSU News Service
March 7, 2022
A Montana State University undergraduate has been admitted to a prestigious European graduate program where she will advance her research in disease prevention and other applications of the growing field of bioinformatics
Lily Toussaint, a senior in MSU’s Honors College who is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in microbiology, was one of roughly 50 students worldwide selected for the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s International doctoral program, which has an average acceptance rate of 3%. Known as Europe's flagship research enterprise in the life sciences, EMBL is an intergovernmental organization that hosts 115 research groups at six sites. Toussaint will study at EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute located outside of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Lily Toussaint has conducted research in the lab of professor Valérie Copié since she was a freshman. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez
MSU Billings announces Institute for Neurodiversity & Applied Behavior Analysis
By Maureen Brakke, director of University
Communications & Marketing
April 18, 2022

Montana State University Billings announces the launch of the Institute for Neurodiversity and Applied Behavior Analysis at the Montana Center for Inclusive Education (MCIE) on university campus. The Institute will serve children in the region with mental, social, and behavioral differences associated with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, similar mental health disorders, and other behavioral disabilities, by providing direct and telehealth clinical support.
(B, L-R): Michael Passage, Tom Manthey (F, L-R): Rene Rossell-Yarbrough, Krystin Hussain, Laura Nicholson
"Our community is lacking adequate access to necessary, evidence-based interventions for neurodiverse individuals, especially with autism,” said Dr. Laura Nicholson, Medical Director of the Institute. Krystin Hussain, director of the Institute, explains that “Neurodiverse children, specifically children with autism, can thrive when provided services early in life. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is an individualized evidence-based treatment that improves life outcomes of children by teaching important skills, such as communication, social skills, and life skills.” She adds that the Institute will focus on providing high-quality ABA services to guide families toward a better quality of life.

New Montana Tech nursing lab gives student nurses realistic training
By John Emeigh
April 26, 2022
Montana Tech has a new simulation lab that’s about to open up to help nursing students become prepared for the future. The Lesar Family Nursing Simulation Lab has students and staff at the Butte university more than just a little excited.

The new lab was paid for in part through a donation last year from the Lesar family, who gave $7 million to Montana Tech.
The lab is set up like a hospital ward and equipped with high-tech mannequins that students can use to apply the techniques they’ve learned in the classroom.

“We’re really seeing our students leave here with more confidence and ready to hit the floor when they go out into their clinical experience,” said Coe.

Photo by: John Emeigh
Industry News
TQI Exclusive: Montana Instruments’ Tried and Trusted Products Ready to Serve the Growing Quantum Industry
By Matt Swayne
April 19, 2022
Just like guitarists can simply say Gibson, or Fender, or Martin to instantly signal rock star quality, most businesses hope for a one-word brand that can sum up their company.
It turns out there is a quantum equivalent. After over a decade of service to the academic community and pioneering work done to help the emerging quantum ecosystem, Montana Instruments has earned that rock star status among deep tech researchers.

“It’s not uncommon for customers to call us up and say, ‘Hey, my colleague did all their work on a Montana,’” said Mark Carroll, CEO of Montana Instruments. “They don’t say Montana Instruments, they don’t say Cryostation, they just say, ‘I got a Montana back here and I want to buy another Montana.’ So that really speaks to this idea that people get their work done – they get their data, and they’re able to publish or complete their dissertation, or gather needed test data – using Montana Instruments equipment.”

Behind the quality that powers research labs across the world stands a commitment to serving as a partner in the research process and an unrelenting drive for innovation to make that process easier, less costly, and more efficient.

What's Happening?
Sharon Peterson: Giving COVID-19 vaccines formulas to other countries could have negative impact on bioscience industry
By Sharon Peterson
April 7, 2022
Last year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposed that biotechnology companies, including some in Montana, be required to give their formulas for COVID-19 vaccines to countries that aren’t as advanced as the U.S. in developing these technologies. The Biden administration has supported this proposal, but we have deep concerns about it.

Montana has a vibrant and growing biotech sector, and we are noted around the country for our successes in research and product development. We are increasingly attracting investors and innovators who want to live and work here. The WTO proposal will place an unfair burden on the ability of our biotech enterprises to thrive.

On the surface, this approach sounds like a noble and humanitarian gesture — and typical of the way Montanans reach out to help others. Before becoming too engaged in the idea, however, let’s look more deeply at a few of the possible outcomes — especially those related to the research and innovations that made these vaccines possible in record time and on a global scale.

Events Calendar
The BIO International Convention is back! The Montana BioScience Alliance will lead our state's presence from June 13-16 in San Diego at one of the world's largest bio and health science gatherings.

We will be there to highlight Montana's growing bioscience industry, encouraging companies to expand or make our state their home. It's also an amazing opportunity to promote our members and help find global partners and funding for the breakthroughs you're making here.

We have space for your companies to hold meetings at the Montana booth (2343). If you plan to attend, please reach out to Sharon Peterson to discuss how we can help. We also hope you'll stop by to say hello and join us in shining a light on Montana.
Your Chance to Pitch: Applications Open for Regional Life Sciences Companies
Thirty regional companies will be selected to present at the Rocky Mountain Life Sciences Investor & Partnering Conference. Companies seeking seed, early-stage, late-stage funding in the medical device, diagnostic, biotech, pharmaceutical, and digital health sectors are encouraged to apply.

Why Apply to Present?
  • Present in one of the designated pitch sessions to a targeted audience of qualified investors and strategic partners, followed by investor-led Q&A
  • Meet one-on-one with potential partners and investors 
  • Connect with attendees on the one-on-one partnering platform app 
  • Full-page company profile in Conference Program
  • Network with peers and investors 

Second round of applications now open until May 20. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until presenting company slots are filled.
Colorado BioScience Association is excited to announce the return of the highly anticipated Rocky Mountain Life Sciences Investor & Partnering Conference in 2022 in Vail, Colorado.

Opening Reception
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Conference + Partnering
Wednesday, September 14, 2022 | 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. followed by a closing reception

The two-day event allows investors and innovators to source opportunities and build partnerships in the areas of medical device, diagnostics, biotech, pharmaceutical, animal health, and digital health.

Employment and Funding Opportunities
The Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative 4th F fund

The objective of the 4th “F” Fund (4FF) is to provide direct assistance to Montana Bioscience entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses in need of money for travel to key conferences, small equipment purchases, or temporary staff assistance in relation to proposal development, etc. This fund is designed for maximum flexibility in support of new and established businesses and entrepreneurs in the Bioscience industry.

For the link to the 4th F Fund Application, Click Here!
Careers at Mesa

Our 500+ employees do work that matters in following our purpose Protecting the Vulnerable®, applying our skills in ways that make a positive impact. That work is accomplished by rallying behind Mesa’s vision: a customer-focused, lean-based value system, called The Mesa Way! and is based on four pillars that drive our work every day- Measure What Matters, Empower Teams, Steadily Improve, and Always Learn
Careers at Montana Molecular

Montana Molecular develops fluorescent biosensors and reporters for drug discovery and research in living cells. Our products help scientists observe and measure cell processes that are important in maintaining health and treating disease. Our team is focused on creating breakthrough innovations that empower scientists and lead to better therapeutic treatments for disease. The company is committed to building a sustainable biotech industry in the state of Montana, providing good jobs in a safe and healthy environment.

Montana Molecular is growing. We have openings for scientific staff with a desire to bring cutting edge fluorescence technology to the market place. This will involve working with a team to combine experience in molecular biology, live cell imaging and fluorescence microscopy to create new tools for discovery. The people who work here are passionate about science and dedicated to building the next generation of biosensors for drug discovery and cell biology.

Open Positions:

To find out more about the current open positions and about Montana Molecular, Click Here!
Careers at FYR Diagnostics

FYR Diagnostics is a fast growing Missoula, MT-based biotechnology company developing a powerful portfolio of PCR-focused solutions. FYR Diagnostics’ mission is to commercialize novel detection technologies to help eliminate human suffering by better diagnosing human disease states and to eliminate vast inefficiencies in the agricultural industry.

Those who work with FYR Diagnostics are members of a community that seeks to respect and celebrate all the qualities that make each of us unique. Each of us is empowered to be ourselves within this community, which cultivates and promotes equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels. FYR Diagnostics is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Workplace and Affirmative Action Employer.

Open Positions:

To find out more about the current open positions, Click Here!
Two Bear Capital provides a job board with the different job openings from
the following companies:

-FYR Diagnostics
-Leapfrog Bio

For Open positions with Companies you'll love to work for, Click Here!
Work for a great company in beautiful Bozeman, MT

At Golden Helix, we are committed to accelerating ground-breaking research in genetics, drug discovery and predictive analytics, to our purpose of dramatically improving human health, our great culture, personal development, and strong values.

We are always seeking self-motivated individuals who strive for excellence and have the drive to help us on our journey. We offer competitive wages, benefits and the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world.

Open Positions:
-Field Application Scientist
-Area Sales Director

General Employment Inquiries
Interested in a position that we're not actively hiring? Submit your resume for our files! We will archive your information and if a position becomes available that matches your qualifications, we'll contact you.
GSK Hamilton

The Hamilton site is located on a 35-acre campus in the heart of the scenic Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. It started in 1981 as Ribi ImmunoChem Research, Inc., a company focused on research and development of vaccine components capable of stimulating the immune system. GSK purchased the site in 2005 to acquire its proprietary adjuvant technology which is used to help make vaccines more effective. GSK Hamilton currently employs over 185 professionals and is expanding its job base with the addition of a new adjuvant manufacturing facility.

To review current openings at the GSK Hamilton (GlaxoSmithKline) site, Click Here!
2022 FAST Micro-Grants are here!

The Montana Innovation Partnership (MTIP) powered by MSU TechLink Center will utilize some of our 2022 FAST funds to provide financial assistance to Montana small businesses that are actively preparing SBIR/STTR proposals in the federal fiscal year 2022.

MTIP will award six FAST Microgrants to eligible SBIR/STTR applicants of up to $2,000 per year. Prospective SBIR/STTR applicants may apply to MTIP to receive Microgrants to attend conferences, travel to speak with agencies or commercialization partners, to acquire consulting services from an approved service provider for assistance with preparation of Phase I or Phase II proposals, to develop supporting project data, and to undertake other activities directly related to their SBIR/STTR proposal.

For more information and to access the application

Open Solicitations From Techlink and MTIP

Dates are subject to change. Please refer to each agency site for up-to-date information.

  • NIH omnibus program announcement. The next submission due date is September 5, 2022.

  • NIH Targeted funding announcements have varying release and due dates. Find a list of currently open program announcements and requests for applications here.

Links to all participating agencies' SBIR home pages are available here.

Reach out today for no-cost consulting and proposal reviews from one of MTIP's SBIR
Montana SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program

What do you do after you have received Stage 1 SBIR/STTR matching funds from the
Montana Department of Commerce, have satisfactorily completed your Phase I work, the
Phase I final report has been accepted by the Federal SBIR/STTR agency, and you have
submitted your SBIR or STTR Phase II proposal?

You submit your Stage 2 application to the Montana SBIR/STTR Matching Funds
Program. You do not have to receive notification of a Phase II award before submitting this
application. For more information, Click Here!

Questions? Feel free to contact Ann at or
Annmarie Robinson with the Department of Commerce at
BIO Business Solutions®, the largest cost-savings program for the life sciences industry, is FREE with your company’s membership in BIO or Montana BioScience Alliance. Receiving savings from our lab and office partners is incredibly simple. We’ve already vetted the suppliers and negotiated discounted pricing and favorable end-user agreements.

Click on the company name to learn more.
There is no fee for MBA members to participate.