Vermont Biosciences Alliance Summer Newsletter

Summer Newsletter 
VBSA was created to foster recognition of medicine and bioscience 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.

Save the Date! The next Bio & Tech Beer will be held on October 15th. Check our events page for details and updates: VBSA Events.
MALSI+ 2020 Collaboration Fuels Innovation:
The Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center will host this high-energy, hands-on event bringing together scientific and business leaders online.The event features a keynote, panel discussions, an innovators' marketplace, networking, and is free this year! Check here for details and to register: MALSI 2020
State of Possible Conference, MassBio's Annual Meeting:
Described as "the Woodstock of Life Sciences" MassBio's annual meeting will go virtual this year on August 26-27. Check here for details and to register: State of Possible Conference
2020 BIO IMPACT Ag & Environment Conference - Now Digital!:
BIO will host a virtual global gathering for the agriculture and environmental biotech sector on September 21-22. Check here for details and to register: Bio Impact Digital
Industry News
Vermont Business Magazine, State Chamber Bestow 2019 Deane C. Davis Award on Chroma Technology:
This June Chroma Technology was honored as Vermont Business of the Year by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Business Magazine. The award recognizes Chroma's strong growth record, commitment to the Vermont community and environment, and supportive employee culture. "Chroma reflects Vermont's diverse nature and radiates a savvy business sense," says Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.
Haematologic Technologies Announces Jean Pineault as President and Chief Executive Officer: 
Haematologic Technologies welcomes new President and CEO Jean Pineault this summer. Pinault has experience in healthcare, biotech, and pharmaceutical industries specializing in contract research and clinical diagnostics. His predecessor, Rick Jenny, will continue as a scientific advisor to the company.
Education News
University of Vermont Announces New Office of Engagement: 
UVM is creating a new office focused on building partnerships with Vermont businesses and organizations. The Office of Engagement will, among other things, assist businesses with SBIR funding, connect organizations with UVM data and policy experts, and provide workforce training.
Generator Seeks Science Mentors: 
Generator is currently recruiting new mentors and would especially like to work with science professionals. Mentors receive reduced or free Generator Membership, up to four shop trainings per pair, guidance and training on best mentorship practices, a meaningful way to impact a young person's life as they enter adulthood, and a small materials budget for mentor-mentee projects.

For more about the program: Maker Mentors and to sign up: Application form. Applications are due August 31.
Vermont is a member of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program, which seeks to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical research. The IDeA-state entrepreneurship program (I-Trep) is a new NIH-supported education program based in Vermont. Continuing with our mission to provide training and education in biomedical entrepreneurship, the I-Trep program is offering paid specialized internships for 2019-2020. The internships aim to provide career development for faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and students from any Vermont-based academic institution and foster business-research collaborations within Vermont.

Eligible hosts include any bioscience-based business or other businesses such as law offices or consultant firms that support the bioscience community. Terms of the internship are meant to be flexible to accommodate the desired career skill development or business-research partnership goals. The intern will be paid through the I-Trep grant and internships will be a maximum of 12 weeks in duration. Host organizations may submit nominations for candidates who they have already identified or contact the program to see if there are any candidates that fit the host organization's needs.

If your organization would like to participate, please contact Tina Thornton (, coordinator for the I-Trep program, for more information.
BYOBio & Tech Beer: The Vermontilator

VBSA and VtTA members gathered virtually this July to hear Dr. Jason Bates, professor of Medicine, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and Electrical & Biomedical Engineering at UVM speak about "The Vermontilator: an Emergency Ventilator from UVM in Response to the COVID Crisis."

Dr. Bates' talk revolved around the story of how the Vermontilator was invented. In setting the scene, he outlined what was known about COVID and the progress of the virus up to the point when it was declared a pandemic on March 11. Doctors knew that symptoms were highly variable, but that the disease could progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) at which point patients needed ventilation.

On Friday, March 13th, Dr. Bates received a text from a colleague working in the hospital with Vermont's first COVID patient declaring that airway pressure release ventilation (APRV) was "da bomb" for COVID ARDS. Over the subsequent weekend, while thinking about the inevitability of equipment shortages under pandemic conditions, he realized it was possible to make basic emergency APRV-style ventilators and drew up some of his ideas.

It's ironic, but ventilation of injured lungs, as in cases of ARDS, can cause a downward spiral of tissue damage. APRV minimizes that risk by holding the lungs inflated for most of each breathing cycle and then giving a brief exhale. APRV doesn't match a normal breathing pattern, but it does protect already vulnerable lungs from further injury.

March 17th, the Tuesday following Dr. Bates' weekend ventilator brainstorm, he was contacted by a group of engineers asking if he would like to join their team working on emergency ventilator concepts. He sent over the drawings he had made over the weekend. To his amazement, the engineers returned pictures of a working prototype that Thursday, about 24 hours later.

Dr. Bates reminded all of us that, even with a swift start by going from concept to working prototype in under a week, it's still a long road to achieve a product that is manufacturable at large scales and passes FDA review. Months after the prototype was built, the team is only now ready to manufacture a production model of the Vermontilator.

While Dr. Bates notes that "it's pretty clear we're not going to use this in Vermont; the social distancing is working and the hospitals were never overwhelmed," he has had international interest from countries where medical equipment resources are chronically low. From the beginning the team had agreed that the Vermontilator project goals were humanitarian. They do have to cover production costs, but they won't be making a profit.

Appropriate to its name, Dr. Bates attributed the success of the Vermontilator to widespread support from Vermont organizations, including UVM Innovations, UVM grad students, and the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center. Dr. Bates comments, "It's a good thing we don't live in New Hampshire or the name wouldn't be as cute."

Congratulations to our three beer raffle winners: Andrea Bacchi, Barry King, and Russell Beste. Keep an eye out for more bioscience talks led by the VBSA! The next Bio & Tech Beer will be October 15th. Details will be posted on our events page.

Membership: Have friends at other businesses that are interested in bioscience and entrepreneurship in Vermont? Invite them to join the VBSA! 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.
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
Call for Seminars: The VBSA is always interested in hosting new workshops and seminars! You can suggest seminar ideas to Rachel Sargent Mirus at
Twitter:  Connect with VBSA on Twitter at
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Check out our new New England Edge page on the VBSA website Purchasing tab!

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