BioScience under the Big Sky

Spring 2023 Newsletter


Hall of Fame

MSU Billings alumnus inducted into Montana Bioscience Alliance Hall of Fame

By Maureen Brakke, director of University

Communications & Marketing

March 6, 2023

Montana State University Billings alumnus Jon Laurent, Ph.D., was recently inducted into the Montana Bioscience Alliance Hall of Fame for his critical role in COVID-19 testing research during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Laurent was working as a postdoctoral research fellow at New York University Langone Health, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He and his colleagues were already aware that the country was facing a serious outbreak. “New York City became the epicenter early in the pandemic and was quickly overwhelmed,” Laurent said. “Our lab on the NYU Langone campus was right across the street from the main Manhattan morgue. We could see it and were right in the middle of it all.”

As a result, Laurent co-founded the Pandemic Response Lab. At the time, Laurent had developed methods for high-throughput investigation of genetic disorders using technology platforms that were also applicable to large-scale COVID-19 testing. His research quickly switched to pivoting the platform to provide rapid and accurate testing to help combat the disease in New York City and around the country.

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Member News

Gaize announces the launch of their real-time impairment screening device for cannabis and other drugs

Press Release

February 13, 2023

Today, Gaize announced the launch of their real-time impairment screening device. The product is a first-of-its-kind fully automated, non-invasive and portable eye movement test. It combines well-established Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) eye examinations with the latest in artificial intelligence. Drug Recognition Expert eye tests are widely considered the gold standard for impairment detection, with 40+ years of successful use, many scientific studies on their effectiveness, and court acceptance in all 50 states. Gaize runs these same tests, exactly according to the DRE training manual, using a VR headset with embedded eye tracking sensors. The resulting data is then analyzed by machine learning models to discover involuntary eye movement changes which are correlated with impairment. This product launch comes following a recently completed clinical trial using the Gaize product, which was the largest in the world to ever investigate cannabis impairment.

Ken Fichtler, Gaize Founder and CEO said: “I created Gaize to solve the problem of cannabis impaired drivers and workers. THC behaves markedly differently in the body than does alcohol, and it can linger in the body for over a month since the last use. No amount of THC in the body has never been shown to produce a predictable level of impairment, so simply measuring THC is not indicative of impairment. Particularly in places where cannabis is legal, what we really care about is whether or not someone is impaired, not if they’ve used cannabis previously.”The results of the test are easy to interpret and each test is also backed by video evidence of the eye movement. From this, Gaize customers can easily and confidently make defensible decisions. Results are delivered in just 6 minutes from the time the test is started, enabling much more frequent impairment screening.

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Montana State nursing college collaborating with Billings Clinic to expand representation and access in clinical trials

By Reagan Colyer, MSU News Service

March 1, 2023

Montana State University will collaborate with Billings Clinic on a new, three-year project aimed at improving access throughout Montana to often life-saving treatments available through clinical trials.

Funded with nearly $750,000 from biotechnology company Genentech through a grant aimed at advancing equitable access to health care, the project seeks to optimize portions of Billings Clinic’s electronic health record systems for clinical trials and engage underserved communities to let more people in the state receive clinical trial care.

Clinical trials are designed to scientifically assess treatments before they are approved for the public, and they can provide patients access to cutting-edge care. Trials are usually conducted at medical research facilities in major cities, making them difficult and expensive for people in rural areas like Montana to access.

The goal of the new project is to develop high-tech record-keeping and communication systems that support patients in receiving trial care in Montana, explained Elizabeth Johnson, assistant professor in MSU’s Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing, who is spearheading MSU’s involvement in the project.

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Elizabeth Johnson of the Montana State University Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing. MSU Photo by Colter Peterson.

Microbion Corporation Initiates Phase 2 Clinical Study Evaluating Topical Pravibismane Treatment of Diabetic Foot Infections

Press Release

March 9, 2023

Microbion Corporation today announced that a Phase 2, randomized, controlled study has been initiated to assess the safety and efficacy of topical pravibismane for the treatment of subjects with moderate infections of chronic diabetic foot ulcers (DFU). DFU infections are a serious complication of diabetes associated with significant morbidity and mortality. DFU infections are the most frequent diabetic complication requiring hospitalization and may lead to lower extremity amputation if the infection fails to resolve. In 2018, approximately 8.25 million hospital discharges associated with diabetes were reported, including 154,000 for lower-extremity amputation.1 Estimates of 5-year mortality for DFU, minor and major amputations range from 30.5% to 56.6%.With the increasing global prevalence of diabetes, novel treatments for DFU infection represent an increasing global unmet need.

In this current Phase 2 exploratory study, Microbion plans to enroll 54 subjects with chronic moderate DFU infections, comparing 12 weeks of pravibismane treatment plus standard of care versus standard of care treatment alone. The study's main objective is to assess the safety and tolerability of topical pravibismane, while the secondary objective is to explore key signals of efficacy demonstrated in an earlier study. These efficacy endpoints include complete wound closure, reduction in the number and extent of amputations, reduction in wound size, and resolution of infection. This study is being conducted at select wound care sites in Texas and California, and potentially other U.S. sites in the future. More information about the study can be found on (identifier number: NCT05174806).

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Nelson Labs Bozeman GMP Viral Clearance Testing Service

Dear Valued Sponsors,

We are pleased to inform you that the viral clearance testing at our Nelson Labs Bozeman location is now fully compliant with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). We have worked hard to ensure that our testing methods and processes meet the highest standards of quality and safety, and we are confident that this testing will meet all your regulatory requirements.

Nelson Labs Bozeman GMP Viral Clearance Testing Service

As you know, viral clearance testing is a critical step in the development and production of biologics and other products that are derived from biological sources. Our GMP-compliant service provides you with the assurance that your products have been thoroughly tested for the presence of viral contaminants, and that they are safe for use. Additionally, our Viral Clearance Service will be further enhanced by our Biosafety Level – 3 laboratory capabilities. Viral Clearance evaluations against BSL-3 strains, such as SARS-Cov-2 and Influenza H7N9, are now offered in conjunction with our extensive library of BSL-2 virus strains.

Invite for Free Testing Consultation

Our team of experts is committed to providing you with the highest level of customer service and technical support. Within the next to weeks we are offering free initial testing consultations with two of our technical experts. We invite to meet with us to discuss your Viral Clearance needs. We are available to answer your questions and provide guidance on the best testing strategies for your unique products.

We look forward to continue serving you and supporting your product development and manufacturing needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or require further information about our viral clearance testing service.

Best regards,

John Dyba

Click Here for More Information or to Speak to an Expert!

Montana/ University News

UM Public Health Students Earn Award to Study Major Issues in Montana

By Kyle Spurr, UM News Service

March 1, 2023

Four public health master’s students at the University of Montana are working on projects that tackle some of the largest health issues facing the state and region. The students in UM's Masters in Public Health with Community Health and Prevention Sciences Concentration recently earned the regional Student Leaders in Public Health Award from the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center in the Colorado School of Public Health. The award provides $3,500 to each project. 

In past years, UM’s public health school saw one to two students receive the regional award. Having four earn the award this year is unprecedented and a testament to the caliber of the students, said Rachel Peterson, an assistant professor in UM’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences.

The students have immersed themselves in projects that affect all corners of Montana. Their projects look at a connection between health and access to food in Indigenous communities, how to mitigate mosquitoes in Fort Benton, an analysis of public health worker salaries and the effect of wildfire smoke on residents in western Montana.

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UM Earns Research Award for Submicroscopic 3D Printer

By UM News Service

March 31, 2023

A University of Montana research center recently was awarded a $480,000 grant to support the purchase of a three-dimensional bioprinter, which will allow nanofabrication of tiny structures.

The new instrument, only the second such bioprinter at a U.S. university, will add a submicroscopic dimension to UM’s technological toolkit.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust grant went to the University’s Montana Biotechnology Center (BIOTECH). The funding will purchase a highly precise bioprinter, the Quantum X Bio System, which can construct sub-microscale tissue-like structures from biomaterials, tiny drug delivery systems, sensors and more.

“The Quantum X Bio System will accentuate the cutting-edge educational and research capabilities of our center and UM,” said Monica Serban, the BIOTECH director. “It also will strengthen our clinical, academic and corporate partnerships and allow our students to be involved in solving real-life biomedical and biotechnological societal problems – involving them in open innovation and prototyping.”

How exciting is the new bioprinter? Well, it uses laser-writing technology to create incredibly tiny structures at tremendous speed and accuracy for biological and biomedical applications. It uses something called “two-photon polymerization” for its sub-microscale 3D printing, a process that relies on the super-accurate interaction of light with a photosensitive material, which then becomes a building block for the printed structure.

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UM Researcher Uses AI to Understand Lung Cancer Cell Vulnerabilities

By UM News Service

April 18, 2023

A scientific team that includes University of Montana biologist Mark Grimes recently used artificial intelligence to better understand how protein groups in lung cancer cells regulate cell division and metabolism.

The work may lead to greater understanding of lung cancer vulnerabilities and future anti-cancer therapies. The findings were published in PLOS Computational Biology.

“We examined how cells respond to anti-cancer drugs used to treat lung cancer,” Grimes said. “We used machine-learning algorithms to detect patterns in data that are difficult to see because our human brains are not all that great at seeing patterns in large spreadsheets.”

He said lung cancer is still a major cause of mortality. New drugs to treat lung cancer can work for a while, but cancer cells may evolve and form new tumors, causing relapse. To solve this problem, attacking cancer cells with a combination of drugs could work, but only if researchers gain a better understanding of cancer cell weak points.

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Industry News

FDA advisers support efficacy and safety of GSK's RSV vaccine with more confidence than Pfizer rival

By Max Bayer

March 1, 2023

FDA advisers endorsed the safety and efficacy of GSK’s respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine in older adults, setting up a final mad dash with Pfizer as both companies eye the regulatory finish line with their promising new vaccines.

The advisers spent the day hashing through the risks and benefits of the GSK shot. On the topic of risks, much of the discussion centered on a single case of Guillain-Barré syndrome and serious adverse events within six months of vaccination, which affected 4% of recipients. For their part, FDA staffers said most of the serious side effects involved nervous system disorders, infections and cardiac disorders.

Ultimately, the majority of advisers on the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee said available data support an approval for GSK's program. The vote came a day after seven of the members supported the safety of Pfizer’s RSV vaccine and seven supported its efficacy.

Only three members supported both elements of Pfizer’s data package. That compared with 10 for GSK's application.

Still, not all advisers were sold on GSK’s data, with some expressing wariness of relying on postmarket data to uncover additional safety concerns.

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What's Happening?

February 8 Legislative reception at the Delta Hotel in Helena was well attended – both by policymakers and members of the Montana Bioscience Association We appreciate those who came to share their stories and those who came to learn about this important industry in the state.

The March 6th Startup Boot Camp for Life Science Entrepreneurs at Montana State University’s Inspiration Hall was a success. The event was sponsored by Wilson Sonsini and included sessions on Company formation, Intellectual Property. Licensing, Fundraising, and Investor Partnering. The Montana BioScience Alliance was proud to sponsor the Boot Camp along with the Montana Innovation Partnership, Montana State University, and the Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative. Special thanks to the crew from Wilson Sonsini, to Ann Peterson MTIP for all the arrangements, and to Cynthia Tsai for sponsoring the lunch.

3 Tips for Scaling Biotech Companies in Montana

By Christina Henderson and Melissa Paulsen

On January 12, 2023, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance and the Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative co-hosted the webinar “Scaling Biotech Companies in Montana.” Panelists shared their insights into how companies can effectively plan for growth and how Montana can scale its biotech ecosystem. Speakers included:

· Liz Marchi (facilitator), Head of Community Engagement for Two Bear Capital in Whitefish and Founder of Frontier Angel Fund

· Choyce LaRue, Financial and Leasing Expert, Thermo Fisher Scientific

· Matt Mellott, Commercial Real Estate Advisor with a background in lab space and R&D development, SterlingCRE, Missoula

· Cynthia Ekberg Tsai, CEO, Healthquest, advisor for business development in biotechnology and medical technologies, Wolf Creek

Continue reading for three key takeaways from the conversation.

1. People Matter Most

2. Collaborative Lab Space is Key

3. Explore Alternative Financing

Click Here to

Continue Reading!

The Montana High Tech Business Alliance and the Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative co-hosted the webinar, “Scaling Biotech Companies in Montana” on Thursday, January 12, 2023, facilitated by Liz Marchi, Head of Engagement for Two Bear Capital and Founder of Frontier Angel Fund. Guest speakers included Choyce LaRue, Financial and Leasing Expert for Thermo Fisher Scientific; Matt Mellott, Commercial Real Estate Advisor with a background in lab space and R&D development for SterlingCRE Missoula; and Cynthia Ekberg Tsai, CEO of Healthquest and advisor for business development in biotechnology and medical technologies. Photo by Inimmune.

Events Calendar

International trade and investment are essential to Montana’s economy— from wheat to SaaS products and everything in between, Montanans are selling their products & services around the world, importing supply chain solutions, and receiving investment from global markets. Come join us to celebrate Montana’s successes on the global stage, learn about untapped opportunities, and gather together in celebration of world trade month.

Gleaning insights on a dynamic global trade landscape from subject matter expert, John W. Miller, Chief Economic Analyst with Trade Data Monitor, unveiling results of the MWTC Annual International Trade & Investment report, honoring the Montana Exporter of the Year as chosen by the Montana District Export Council, inviting Consuls General from our trading partner nations to share insights, meet with businesses and amass more granular detail about mutually beneficial trade and investment opportunities between Montana and their home country, offering timely training for Montana’s exporting and importing firms.

Join us on May 17th at 5:30pm for a Networking Reception and on May 18th from 7:45am to 2:00pm at the University of Montana! For more information click here! For further questions, please email


Join Us in Boston for BIO 2023

Expertise in question, regulatory belt tightening. Stifled innovation. The stakes have never been higher. The threat never more real. It’s time we said no more. Stand up for innovation. Stand up for truth. And stand up for science. It’s time to inspire, honor, and recognize the true value of the breakthrough work biotech performs for society. Today. And every day. Well into the future.

Learn More!


When: June 16th & 17th 2023

 Advances in genetic technology and evidence demonstrating clinical utility of a genetic diagnosis have increased demand for clinical genetics services which are limited outside of large metropolitan areas. We hope to engage the community around regional approaches to genetics services, partnerships with local non-genetics providers and innovative service delivery models. Wide Open Spaces aims to give a voice to patients, their families, and other individuals who may be affected by rare disease. 

Join us in beautiful Montana, the fourth largest state in the US with significant geospatial challenges yet a long-standing clinical genetics history. Let’s explore innovative models to provide genetic services, building the networks and pathways to expand access to genetic care within local communities. 

For more information and to register click button below.

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!

2023 FAST Micro-Grants are here!

The Montana Innovation Partnership (MTIP) powered by MSU TechLink Center will utilize some of our 2023 FAST funds to provide financial assistance to Montana small businesses that are actively preparing SBIR/STTR proposals in the federal fiscal year 2023.

The costs to apply for an SBIR/STTR grant or contract can be considerable. Financial assistance for early-stage companies increases their participation in the SBIR program and the quality of their proposals.

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

Click Here!

Careers at Inimmune

Inimmune is a promising new biotechnology company founded by pharmaceutical industry veterans, focused on developing the next generation of vaccines and immunotherapeutics. The group has extensive expertise in synthetic and process chemistry, drug formulation, and immunology.

Open Positions:

- Administrative Assistant

-Investigator (I or II) in Immunology or Immuno-oncology

To find out more about the current open positions and about Inimmune, 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

Open Positions:

-Machine Operator - MIST

-Technician - Mail-in Spore Testing (MIST)

-Manager - Manufacturing

-Production Maintenance Manager

-Senior Manufacturing Engineer

-Machine Operator - Assembly and Packaging

-Manager of Quality Assurance & Regulatory Affairs

-Research & Development Scientist

-Technical Account Manager (NJ, PA, MA, OH)

-Manufacturing Engineering Department Intern - Summer 2023

-Intern - Research and Development

-Technical Sales Support Specialist

-Contract Studies Lab Analyst

To find out more about the current open positions and about Mesa Labs, Click Here!

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:

-NGS Associate Scientist or Scientist ($100k+ DOE)

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:

-Area Sales Director

-Director of Renewal Sales

-Finance Manager

-Operations Coordinator

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.

Click here to apply!

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!

Open Solicitations From Techlink and MTIP

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

  • 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


UPS Healthcare brings reliability, scalability and security to life science companies every day. Its portfolio of end-to-end services is well-suited to meet today's complex logistics demands for the pharmaceutical, medical device, and laboratory diagnostic industries. Learn exactly how from UPS Healthcare.

Through Montana BioScience Alliance’s partnership with UPS Healthcare, you get access to exclusive rates on a full suite of UPS® services. And, after recent renegotiations, the savings have gotten even better. While the same popular shipping services, like UPS Next Day Air®, and UPS Worldwide Express SM, remain at reduced rates, the price band range to qualify for discounts is narrower. For example, a company that spends $1,500 to $4,999.99 weekly for UPS Next Day Air® shipping now receives a 60% discount rather than a 50-55% discount under the previous arrangement.

As a Montana BioScience Alliance member, be confident that your critical healthcare shipments will be delivered timely and with care by a quality-focused and patient-driven organization.

Montana BioScience Alliance Members Save Up To:

· 74% on UPS Next Day Air®

· 59% on UPS 2nd Day Air® & UPS 3 Day Select Services®

· 51% on UPS Ground® Commercial Services

· 68% on UPS Worldwide International Services

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.

Montana BioScience Alliance | []


The Montana Bioscience Alliance serves as a hub for Montana's biotechnology companies,

entrepreneurs, laboratories, hospitals, clinics and universities to commercialize, grow and sustain

globally competitive bioscience companies -- ultimately to create high-quality jobs and economic

opportunity in Montana.

Sharon Peterson

Executive Director

Montana BioScience Alliance