BioScience under the Big Sky
Spring II -2021 Newsletter

Please Join us in Welcoming New Members:

Sustainable Bioproducts LLC
Bozeman, MT

Nature's Fynd
Chicago, IL

Dr. Mike Kavanaugh
 The McLaughlin Research Institute at 1520
 23rd St South in Great Falls, MT.
Dr. Renee Reijo Pera joins the McLaughlin Research Institute as it’s fourth director.

Dr Renee Reijo Pera will be joining the McLaughlin Research Institute in April, 2021. She succeeds Dr. Mike Kavanaugh as director of the Institute. 

Dr Reijo Pera is currently the Vice President of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education at the California State Polytechnic University, one of 23 campuses of the California State University system which has an enrollment which exceeds 485,000 students. She has more than 8 years of experience with previous service also as the Vice President of Research and Economic Development at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. Prior to joining Montana State University, she was the George D Smith Professor of Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University. She is a member of the National Academy of Inventors and has received numerous awards for her own research, was cited by Newsweek magazine as one of twenty influential women in the USA for her research, and Time Magazine recognized her laboratory for one of the top ten “medical breakthroughs in 2010.” She is also a co-founder of Progyny, Inc., which is now publicly-traded on the NASDAQ with a valuation that exceeds $4B. 
The McLaughlin Research Institute has been engaged in biomedical research for more than 67 years, since 1954. It is focused on translational science in medicine including neurogenetics on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative nerve diseases. Understanding neurodegeneration is the foundation for medical advances that will prevent and cure these devastating diseases which are estimated to cost more than one trillion dollars annually by 2025. The Institute is an independent, nonprofit organization located in Great Falls, MT, and has been the training ground for many scientists over the years including Drs. Irv Weissman and LeRoy Hood, prominent members of the national biomedical research community. Dr. Reijo Pera and colleagues look forward to expanding the mission and the presence of the MRI to better serve the needs of Great Falls and beyond.
Dr. Renee Reijo Pera joins the McLaughlin Research
Institute as it's fourth director.
Member News

SiteOne Therapeutics Announces Initiation of Phase 1 Clinical Trial for its Non-Opioid Analgesic for Acute Pain
Press Release
April 20, 2021
 SiteOne’s Study of ST-2427 Examines Safety, Tolerability, and Pharmacokinetics

SiteOne Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing new treatments to address conditions involving hypersensitivity of the nervous system, today announced that dosing has commenced in the company’s Phase 1, dose-escalation study of ST-2427, a highly selective inhibitor of NaV1.7 for the management of moderate-to-severe pain.

“The initiation of this study represents a significant milestone for the company as it is our first drug candidate to enter the clinic,” stated John Mulcahy, Ph.D., chief executive officer of SiteOne. “There is an urgent, unmet need to develop effective non-opioid therapies for pain. Our lead compound, ST-2427, addresses that need by targeting the peripheral nerve fibers that conduct pain signals without the potential for CNS side effects, addiction and abuse liability of opioid medications.”

ST-2427 blocks sodium ion channel 1.7 (NaV1.7). NaV1.7 is a subtype of sodium channel that is highly expressed in peripheral nerve fibers, responsible for pain signal transmission, and is validated as a target for pain treatment by human genetics. Individuals lacking this protein are unable to experience pain. By selectively targeting NaV1.7, ST-2427 aims to stop the electrical signals responsible for pain before they reach the central nervous system.

Billings Clinic participating in early cancer detection and prevention study
Press Release
April 1, 2021

$1.2M in federal grant funding provides genetic testing at primary care appointments
There are more than 50 known hereditary cancer syndromes, and 5 to 10 percent of cancers have a hereditary component to them. However, despite this knowledge, testing for these types of cancers in the appropriate populations remains a vastly underused cancer prevention strategy. Cost, testing location, and lack of knowledge on how to get testing are just a few of the barriers that prevent access to this crucial tool that would help identify this risk.

A collaboration between the University of Washington, Billings Clinic, and Multicare Health System in the Seattle, Washington area attempts to address this problem by offering the chance to be assessed for genetic testing at primary care appointments. This population-based approach is an attempt to develop more effective cancer prevention and early detection approaches for people at high risk for cancer in both rural and urban areas.

CEO CORNER: Steven C. Eror, CEO, Solo-Dex Inc.
By Jeff Myhre
April 5, 2021
In this week’s BNT CEO Corner, we talk to Steven C. Eror, the CEO of Solo-Dex, Inc, a Montana-based medical device/anesthesia company. Eror is a C-executive experienced professional in biopharma, drug delivery, IT and MedTech startups and former adjunct professor of Finance, David Eccles Graduate School of Business (University of Utah). As an executive, Eror has raised more than $50 million in private funds for MedTech, Tech and Biotech startups.

Business News Tribune: Please explain the problem in the world that you are trying to solve?

Steven Eror: Our medical product, the Solo-Dex “Facile™” mini kit reduces the cost and risk associated with general anesthesia by a) improving surgical patient recovery times, b) reducing medical personnel exposure to covid-19, c) reducing or eliminating the misuse of opioid-related pain management, and d) by safely and effectively managing pain before, during and after a procedure. Without a Solo-Dex regional nerve block, patients including many high-risk patients must undergo general anesthesia and subsequent oral opioid use. Facile is placed so easily, so quickly and so reliably that it promises to bring hundreds of anesthesiologists back to full confidence in placing a continuous peripheral nerve block.

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Enters into Exclusive Worldwide Licensing Agreement with OyaGen to Develop Antiviral SARS-CoV-2 Inhibitor, TNX-3500, for the Treatment of COVID-19
Press Release
April 19, 2021

Early Studies Show TNX-3500 Significantly Inhibits SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19, and Potentiates Remdesivir

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: TNXP) (Tonix or the Company), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company,and OyaGen, Inc. (OyaGen), a pre-clinical biotechnology research company, announced today an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement for an antiviral inhibitor of SARS-CoV-2,TNX-3500 (sangivamycin, formerly OYA1), for the treatment of COVID-19 and potentially other viral disorders. The active ingredient of TNX-3500 has been studied for safety in humans in prior studies on cancer patients at the U.S. National Cancer Institute but has not been approved for marketing in any jurisdiction.

“We are excited to expand our pipeline and we look forward to developing TNX-3500 as a potential treatment for COVID-19 and emerging variants,” said Seth Lederman, M.D., Tonix's President and Chief Executive Officer. “TNX-3500 is in the pre-Investigational New Drug(IND) phase of development with encouraging early data from cell culture infectivity studies with SARS-CoV-2. We believe that its potency on SARS-CoV-2 inhibition in tissue culture and its tolerability in humans from prior studies suggests that TNX-3500 may qualify for expedited clinical development.”

VarSeq 2.2.3 Released!
The Golden Helix Blog
April 27, 2021
...the prominent new features added to VarSeq, which are the updates to improve whole-exome analysis workflows, namely improved CNV calling in whole-exome datasets. However, there have been many other features added to VarSeq 2.2.3 that I think are worth emphasizing as well!

As I eluded to earlier, the front and center features for this release are the updates made for VarSeq-CNV. New filters and quality flags were incorporated into the CNV calling algorithms to ensure that high quality, true positive CNV events are being analyzed in whole-exome workflows. In the same vein, users can use the new “Create Low-Quality Target Regions” wizard to define a set of targets that tend to fail various quality metrics. An example of target regions included in this track are regions where the average depth across reference samples is shallow. Outside of optimizing the CNV caller for exome analysis, there were updates made to importing external CNVs into VarSeq, and CNVs can now be exported from VarSeq as VCF files.

There were also notable updates to VSClinical ACMG and AMP...

Next Frontier Capital Announces Successful Close of
$80m Fund III

Next Frontier Capital, a Rocky Mountain technology venture capital firm, today announced the successful close of its $80m Fund III. Founded by Richard Harjes and Will Price, Next Frontier Capital’s financial backers include educational endowments, financial firms, charitable foundations, iconic industry executives, and family offices. Next Frontier originally targeted a $70m raise and increased the fund size to accommodate demand. 

Steve Burke, former CEO of NBCUniversal, onXmaps board member, and a Limited Partner in all three NFC Funds, remarked, “Our family has invested with NFC for three reasons: excellent performance, excellent and open communications with investors, and a chance to invest in and help new Montana companies.”
Montana/ University News
Charles and Nora L. Wiley Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity
David Dickensheets, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering, has won the Charles and Nora L. Wiley Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity. He will receive a $2,000 honorarium.

Dickensheets is widely known for pioneering optical technology that can be used to scan human tissue for diagnosing cancer, among other applications. His research has focused on developing tiny mirrors and other optical components that can be manipulated electronically in order to generate high resolution images. The devices can be used by health care providers to perform "optical biopsy" using light to see certain kinds of cells without needing to remove living tissue. The technology is being commercialized by two Bozeman companies started by his former graduate students.

For third year running, MSU sees four students receive prestigious Goldwater scholarships

By Marshall Swearingen, MSU News Service
March 27, 2021

Bolstering a record of Montana State University being a top producer of recipients of the nation's premier scholarship for undergraduates in STEM fields, four MSU students have been named Goldwater scholars.

The 2021 class of Goldwater recipients announced Friday includes Laina Hall and Pushya Krishna of Bozeman, Elliott Pryor of Helena and Matthew Thompson of Woodinville, Washington. This is the third year in a row that four MSU students — the most that any institution may nominate annually — have received the honor, which is among the most prestigious available to undergraduates pursuing research careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

"We are very proud of Laina, Pushya, Elliott and Matthew’s achievements and are also deeply grateful to their faculty and research mentors," said Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of the Honors College, in which all four are students. "It has been my privilege to watch them soar. Their futures are incredibly bright."
FVCC Welcomes New Nursing Program Director Carla Genovese

By Sally Johnson
April 16, 2021

Flathead Valley Community College is pleased to introduce our new nursing program director, Carla Genovese, MSN, who began leading the program in January 2021. Genovese joins FVCC after serving two decades in nursing education and critical care leadership roles. She started her career as an ICU nurse, then served as a critical care clinical educator and clinical education supervisor, and most recently, she was the director of critical care at Kalispell Regional Healthcare. Originally from Whitehall, Montana, Genovese earned her bachelor’s at Carroll College and her Master’s in Nursing Education from American Sentinel University.

As evidenced in our Q&A below, Genovese brings to her new role a passion for education and dedication to caregiving that was cultivated from a very young age.

Steve Sprang, professor in the Division of the Biological Sciences and co-director of the CBSD, receives the 2021 Distinguished Scholar Award
Congratulations, Steve!
Steve Sprang 2021 Distinguished Scholar Award Recipient

UM President Seth Bodnar announced on April 2, 2021 that Professor Steve Sprang has been selected to receive the UM 2021 Distinguished Scholar Award for his exceptional contributions to the University of Montana. The Distinguished Scholar Award recognizes faculty who have made outstanding contributions in the areas of research, creativity, or other scholarly activities.

 Klara Briknarova, who nominated Professor Sprang for the award, noted that “Steve was such an obvious choice. He is a renowned protein crystallographer.

Industry News

Fauci lauds Montana link in vaccine history

By Rob Chaney, Ravalli Republic
February 17, 2021

Although he won’t be personally in Missoula for his lecture on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Montana ties run much thicker than a Zoom call. The nation’s top adviser on the COVID-19 pandemic response and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 was also close friends with one of the pioneers in vaccine research at Hamilton’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory, Maurice Hilleman. Fauci’s wife, Dr. Chris Grady, had Hilleman for her thesis advisor, according to RML spokesman Ken Pekoc.

Hilleman helped develop about 40 vaccines from the 1940s until the early 2000s, and is credited with saving more lives than any other single person — an estimated 8 million a year through vaccination. Those include measles, mumps, hepatitis A and B, chickenpox and meningitis.

“He’s one of the most underappreciated scientific assets this country ever had,” Fauci said in a Tuesday interview with the Missoulian. “He’s responsible for most of the vaccines we take in childhood. Of the 18 vaccines you give to kids, 12 or 13 of them were developed by Maurice.”

Bigger than COVID? Study warns land use errors could unleash new pandemics
By Rob Chaney, Billings Gazette
March 9, 2021

Just about everybody knows the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading from a wildlife meat market in China. Lots of people know it has been traced to a virus that jumped from bats to humans. Not nearly as many know that Montana has been a world leader in researching those catastrophic diseases.

And now those researchers warn that the ways people manage the remaining wild landscape could cause even deadlier outbreaks than the one we’re enduring now.
“Montana is also home to one of the few international research centers on global infectious diseases that originate in bats,” said Raina Plowright, an associate professor of microbiology at Montana State University. “Between MSU and Rocky Mountain Labs, we have one of the largest groups working on bats in the world. And the pathogens we mostly focus on can be more fatal than coronavirus.”

Plowright co-authored a study published on March 5 in the Lancet arguing that activities from recreation to agriculture to energy exploration all risk unleashing new infectious and debilitating diseases. But neither the scientific nor the planning worlds have done enough homework to avoid the next spillover event. And as people push into wild land, wildlife transform into urban deer and city coyotes.

Healthcare Startup pulseData Raises $16.5M To Help Lower Costs To Treat Kidney Disease
By Frederick Daso
April 19, 2021
The U.S. healthcare system is more reactive than proactive in promoting good health to its patients. Essential care is only delivered for chronic diseases after a critical illness strikes an individual and not before. The shift from a fee-based healthcare system as it currently exists today to a “value-based” or “outcome-based” care model is slowly happening. Teddy Cha and Hai Po Sun recognize this gradual change occurring and are working to accelerate proactive treatment of chronic diseases with their startup, pulseData. pulseData aggregates patient medical data, uses machine learning to predict who is most likely to experience chronic kidney disease (CKD) and proactively matches these high-risk patients with the necessary renal care needed. The healthcare startup raised $16.5M in their Series A from Bain Capital and Two Bear Capital leading the round.

"The future of healthcare will depend on leveraging advanced technologies that keep patients healthier and costs lower. pulseData is focused on having exactly this impact on renal disease, a chronic condition that affects millions of patients and costs the healthcare system over $100 billion a year," said Mike Goguen, Founder and Managing Partner of Two Bear Capital. "We're excited to continue our partnership with such a brilliant and mission-driven team of entrepreneurs."

CD47 and autism
By Christopher Vaughan
April 23, 2021

Researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine have linked an immune molecule to brain growth aberrations associated with autism. Their research points the way to potential treatments for this kind of brain alteration.

“It’s very exciting to able to find underlying cellular mechanisms that may be at play in at least these forms of autism, and to start looking at ways we might be able to intervene therapeutically,” said assistant professor Sundari Chetty, PhD. Chetty did her research in association with professor Irv Weissman, MD, director of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The research was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Sundari Chetty, PhD

The most severe forms of autism spectrum disorder often occur in people with larger than average heads, and many of these people also have deletions in a region of chromosome 16 known as 16p11.2, Chetty said. To understand what might be happening on a cellular level in people with alterations of the 16p11.2 gene locus, Chetty and her colleagues studied cell samples from autism patients with this genetic alteration. The cells were turned into iPS cells—chemically reset so that they can grow into the brain cells they wanted to study.

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 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!
Careers at BioScience Laboratories

Open Positions:
-Quality Assurance Specialist
-Virology Technician
-Inventory Associate

EMAIL RESUME & COVER LETTER TO: Tammy Anderson, Human Resources Manager :

If you did not see anything that you are interested in at this time, please send us your resume and cover letter anyways! We would like to see how you could help BioScience Laboratories.

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

-FYR Diagnostics
-Spiral Genetics

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
-Sales and Marketing Associate
-Financial and Operations Associate

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.
2021 FAST Micro-Grants are here!

The Montana Innovation Partnership (MTIP) powered by MSU TechLink Center will utilize some of our 2021 FAST funds to provide financial assistance to Montana small businesses that are actively preparing SBIR/STTR proposals in the federal fiscal year 2021.

MTIP will award 10 FAST Microgrants to eligible SBIR/STTR applicants of up to $1,500 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
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 omnibus program announcement. The next submission due date is September 2021.

  • 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. The full funding guidelines are available here!

Questions? Feel free to contact Ann at or
Annmarie Robinson with the Department of Commerce at
What's Happening?
Looking forward to the BIO International Convention, June 10 -11 and 14-18. 15 innovative companies will be joining the Montana BioScience Alliance at this virtual event.
For more information Click Here!

Bioscience is thriving and growing in Montana. Learn of our momentum here. 

Special thanks to Nicole Rush and the Montana Bioscience Cluster initiative.

Events Calendar
For more information Click Here!
Through its partnership with BIO, the Montana Bioscience Alliance (MBA) offers its members the opportunity to take advantage of the BIO Business Solutions® programs listed below.
Click on the company name to learn more.
There is no fee for MBA members to participate.