Vermont Biosciences Alliance Spring Newsletter

Spring Newsletter 
VBSA was created to foster recognition of medicine and bio-science as a leading industry in the Vermont region and promote economic and human well-being by strengthening sector attention, research resources and venture growth. To the businesses and organizations who are currently members, thank you for supporting the bioscience industry in Vermont.

VBSA Board Update
The VBSA Welcomes New Board Members

Luke Emerson-Mason is the laboratory manager at Bia Diagnostics, an ISO 17025 accredited contract testing lab specializing in food allergen analysis. In this role he is responsible for ensuring the quality of test results, as well as researching and validating new methods and managing customer projects. He is also project manager for Elution Technologies, a food allergen immunoassay manufacturer, overseeing new product validation and AOAC approval testing. Both are based in Colchester, VT.
Luke received a B.S. in Environmental Science from UVM in 2006, and is currently there part time finishing his M.S. in Food Science. Aside from brief stints teaching snowboarding in Colorado and working at a horticulture research lab in New Zealand, he has lived in Vermont his entire life. 

Dr. Tina Thornton is an assistant professor in the College of Medicine at UVM.  Her research examines the ways in which DNA damage affects the immune system and the central nervous system.  Also, she is the coordinator of I-Trep, a UVM initiative that fosters biomedical entrepreneurship in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico and Alaska, by providing resources and training to biomedical researchers who seek to commercialize their discoveries and by promoting collaboration between those researchers and the biomedical small business community at large.
Dr. Thornton earned her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and her B.S. from the University of South Carolina.  She was the Joyce Fox Jordan Postdoctoral Fellow at the Purdue University Cancer Center before moving to Vermont in 2005. 
The VBSA Elects New Officers - 
Effective May 1st, three new officers take on board leadership roles.  Thomas Scarnecchia, Xavier Ambroggio, and Janet Murray will continue VBSA's mission to build a strong bioscience community within Vermont.  

Thomas Scarnecchia will assume the Board President role. Mr. Scarnecchia co-founded Digital Aurora in 2005 and serves as its President.  Digital Aurora provides management and informatics consulting services to organizations involved in the fields of life-science R&D, medical research, and healthcare delivery. Tom joined the VBSA Board of Directors in 2015.

Xavier Ambroggio, PhD will assume the role of Board Vice President of Industry.  Dr. Ambroggio founded the Rosetta Design Group (RDG) in 2007 and serves as the General Manager. RDG is an elite CRO providing macromolecular modeling, bioinformatics, and consulting services for clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech, academic, military, government, and non-profit sectors.  Xavier joined the VBSA Board of Directors in 2015.

Janet Murray, PhD will assume the role of Board Vice President of Academia.  Dr. Murray is the Director of Outreach for the Vermont Genetics Network and an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Vermont. Janet is well known throughout the state's colleges through her efforts to inspire undergraduate students to consider biomedical careers.  Janet joined the VBSA Board of Directors in 2013.

Message from Bill Church, PhD

With our new Board President, Tom Scarnecchia starting May 1 and new Board Members, Tina Thornton and Luke Emerson joining us, now is the time for me to step out of the leadership role in Vermont Biosciences Alliance. I look forward to continuing to participate as a board member.   I would like to take this time to thank a number of people for their efforts building a strong and vibrant Vermont Biosciences Alliance these past years.

Nick Heintz and Paul Hale were the brains behind the idea of converting a small group of science-types and beer drinkers (mostly beer drinkers), the Burlington Area Developers of Assays (Bad Assays), to a more formal and representative group.  Ken Merritt generously donated his services for incorporating the non-profit and Bruce Seifer and Ed Antzyck from the Burlington CEDO office provided support, encouragement, and suggested the name (Alliance).  Without the support and commitment of early board members Jack Glaser, Chris Coulter, Michael Stanley, Kimberly Murray, Bob Hamilton, Mark Blanchard, Margaret Laggis, the first Board President Brent Golann, and our ex-officio John Evans, we would not have gotten very far those first years.  Board Members Lori Martin, Xavier Ambroggio, Janet Murray, and Kerry Swift helped to focus the group on entrepreneurship, tech transfer and business development.  Betsy Bishop patiently explained how we should function as a Board and, importantly, introduced us to Susan Fayette and Heidi Tringe.  Their efforts lead to greater visibility of biotech in the business community and helped put the Alliance on sound financial footing.

I especially thank my long-time friend Paul Haley who has supported the organization, and me, with his relentless humor, intelligent counsel and generous financial support.  If I have another wild idea to serve on a Board, I'll try to have Paul there with me.

And finally, I thank all the members, companies and individuals, who I have had the honor of serving as President of the Vermont Biosciences Alliance. It's been a tremendous amount of fun for the hard work  necessary to build a sustainable biotech industry in Vermont.

Industry News
VBSA at the Statehouse
The Vermont BioSciences Alliance (VBSA) hosted coffee at the Vermont Statehouse on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.  Dozens of members of the House and Senate stopped by and spoke at length with VBSA board members about the promise and struggles facing the industry.  VBSA had the opportunity to highlight the amazing accomplishments of the Biosciences industry in Vermont while encouraging members of the legislature to look at ways that the State could work to make creating Vermont-based companies that can start, grow and thrive here more feasible.  Bioscience companies offer opportunities for high- paying jobs that will not only keep young Vermonters here but attract others to Vermont.  Members of the legislature were intrigued by the information provided by VBSA, enthusiastic about finding ways to make this industry grow here and encouraging to board members to work over the summer and come back next year with some ideas of things that they could do to help.  Several members of the Senate Economic Development committee were among those who stayed for extended conversations and were the most excited about the opportunity to focus on this industry as a priority moving forward.  VBSA board members agreed that there were two issues causing the industry some difficulties: education and investor availability.  Both of these challenges will become the focus of the board over the next several months.

Green Mountain Antibodies Annouces International Production and Distribution Agreement with African Livestock Research Institute to Advance Animal Health.

Burlington, VT - Green Mountain Antibodies has signed an agreement with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) of Nairobi, Kenya to produce and distribute monoclonal antibodies that detect infectious disease markers in cattle.  The antibodies are used by animal researchers and vaccine companies in the discovery and development of new vaccines.  This agreement, a result of a collaboration between Green Mountain Antibodies, ILRI, Dr. John Barlow of the University of Vermont, and Dr. Bill Golde of the Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland, allows Green Mountain Antibodies access to a library of underutilized antibodies that can be turned into high-quality, validated antibodies for animal health diagnostics.
Monoclonal antibodies are created by fusing an antibody-producing white blood cell with a cancer cell, resulting in a hybrid cell that produces identical antibodies and is immortal when grown in the laboratory.  Monoclonal antibodies are one of the foundations of biotechnology and are used as drugs for human health and diagnostics for human and animal diseases. Monoclonal antibodies to blood markers can detect if an animal is protected from infection following vaccination.  Green Mountain Antibodies will also create new antibodies that can be used to detect the effectiveness of livestock vaccination, thus improving the available diagnostic tests to combat animal disease and improve animal health.

Finding newer and more effective and safer vaccines has never been so important.   In addition to curbing antibiotic use in livestock, this effort is essential not only to improve the quality and productivity of livestock farming and the food we eat, but also to safeguard against future outbreaks of infectious disease.  The health of humans is interconnected with the health of animals and the health of the environment.  Six out of ten infectious diseases in humans have spread from animals and 75% of all emerging infectious diseases will involve animal to human transmission.  Excessive use of antibiotics in livestock has added to the human health risk by reducing the effectiveness of existing antibiotics.  With close to 1.5 billion cows on the planet, and in Vermont almost 1 cow for every 2 humans, livestock production competes for natural resources with 9 billion humans and is a significant contributor to global warming.
Dr. Bill Church, President of Green Mountain Antibodies, commented on the agreement, "We are excited that ILRI recognizes our strengths in antibody manufacturing and we share their vision of producing healthy animals for a healthier world."  

Green Mountain Antibodies is a biotechnology company in Burlington, VT and is a global leader in monoclonal antibody production. For more information, contact Anna Hill at (802) 865-6230 or at 
News: If your business has announcements, milestones, or projects they would like to share with the VBSA community, please get in touch with us! You can email your news and information to Susan Fayette.
Membership: If you are interested in bioscience entrepreneurship in Vermont, join the VBSA! Expand your professional network and keep current on news and opportunities in bioscience right here in Vermont. Joining the VBSA sends a message of support for Vermont bioscience companies and organizations.   Click here   for more on the benefits of joining the VBSA and to sign up.

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