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

Bristol Myers Squibb

Billings Clinic
Billings, Mt

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
Jen Alderfer Named President for Montana Region & St. Vincent Healthcare

SCL Health announced that Jen Alderfer, MBA, MHA, FACHE, has been named president of the Montana Region and St. Vincent Healthcare. Alderfer was selected for this role following a national search process and was chosen as the top candidate based on feedback from Montana Regional Board members, Medical Staff, and local and system leaders. Alderfer assumed her new role in Montana on Monday, November 29, 2021.

Alderfer is no stranger to SCL Health. She has been a leader at SCL Health for more than four years, serving as both the President of Good Samaritan Medical Center and as the Transformation Officer for SCL Health. “Jen has had great success leading the Good Samaritan team and our entire system in operational and quality improvements,” said Mark Korth, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of SCL Health. “We are fortunate to have Jen’s strong experience and expertise in the Montana Region, and we look forward to continuing to advance our shared vision for the future of SCL Health Montana together.” 

Billings Clinic participating in a clinical trial for an alternative treatment to long term blood thinners in patients with atrial fibrillation
December 20, 2021

Billings Clinic is participating in a national trial to study the use of an advanced device to treat patients with atrial fibrillation who are at higher risk for stroke and we are enrolling participants now.

Called the CHAMPION-AF trial and initiated by Boston Scientific, it is a randomized head-to-head trial designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the next-generation WATCHMAN FLX Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device within a broad population of patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), including those who are at low-to-moderate risk of bleeding from the use of blood thinners. The device will be compared to results from leading contemporary blood thinner medications for stroke risk reduction in this population and provide a procedural option for those who may not otherwise qualify for the WATCHMAN device.

For more information WATCHMAN and the CHAMPION-AF trial, please call Tanja Sloan, PA-C, Billings Clinic WATCHMAN Coordinator, at 406-238-2004 or visit

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Initiates Enrollment in Clinical Trial of TNX-2100, a Diagnostic Skin Test to Measure Functional T Cell Immunity to SARS-CoV-2
Press Release
January 11, 2022
Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: TNXP)a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced that the first participant was enrolled in a dose-finding study for TNX-2100 (SARS-CoV-2 epitope peptide mixtures for intradermal administration), an in vivo skin test to measure delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) to SARS-CoV-2 (CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. DTH is a measure of functional T cell immunity.

“The SARS-CoV-2 skin test is designed to measure T cell immunity,” said Seth Lederman, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Tonix Pharmaceuticals. “In other infectious diseases, T cell immunity prevents serious disease and blocks forward transmission. Because antibodies are easier to measure, there has been more discussion about antibodies rather than T cells as a biomarker of immunity to SARS-CoV-2. However, T cells, not antibodies, are the body’s major defense against viruses. The skin test has the potential to serve as: 1) a biomarker for T cell protective immunity and durability of vaccine protection; 2) a personalized approach for vaccine boosters; 3) a method to stratify participants in COVID-19 vaccine trials with a more complete picture of immune status; 4) an endpoint in COVID-19 vaccine trials for vaccines that elicit T cell immunity, and 5) public health surveillance. We believe the TNX-2100 skin test has the potential to address the unmet need for a rapid, sensitive, and specific test that may indicate current or past infection with SARS-CoV-2 and potentially predict protective immunity. We also believe the skin test has the potential to inform strategies to protect individuals and communities from COVID-19.”
Inimmune Welcomes New Chief Medical Officer
January 11, 2022

Inimmune (Missoula, MT), a biotechnology company focused on devleoping the next generation of vaccines and immunotheraputics, has appointed Jon Ruckle, M.D. as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Ruckle brings over 25 years of clinical trial experience including protocol design, product development strategy, and medical monitoring. He has served as an Investigator for over 350 clinical trials. Dr. Ruckle will oversee the global clinical development and regulatory activites for Inimmune.

After receiving his medical degree from Loma Linda University and completing an Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic, Dr. Ruckle served as the founding Medical Director at Northwest Kinetics in Tacoma, WA, from 1995 to 2000. He then led Phase I development at Radiant Research Honolulu from August 2000 until acquired by Covance in 2006. He remained as Medical Director at Covance until 2008, then fouded Pacific Pharma Group in 2008 and served as Medical Director, Early Development for Comprehensive Clincical Development in Tacoma, WA from 2011 to 2013.

Billings Clinic brings first general surgery residency to Montana

By Emily Schabacker, Billings Gazette
January 13, 2022

Billings Clinic is the first to bring a general surgery residency to Montana. The new program, announced Thursday, will focus on rural care with the goal of creating a pipeline of general surgeons into rural communities.

In collaboration with the University of Arizona College of Medicine general surgery residency program, fourth year residents will have the opportunity to spend a year training at Billings Clinic and rotate out to rural facilities. The partnership with UA comes as about 50% of Montana’s surgeons are approaching retirement and the need for more physicians is dire.

Xtant Medical Appoints Scott Neils Interim Chief Financial Officer
Press Release
January 3, 2022

Xtant Medical Holdings, Inc. (NYSE American: XTNT), a global medical technology company focused on surgical solutions for the treatment of spinal disorders, today announced the appointment of Scott Neils as Interim Chief Financial Officer succeeding Greg Jensen, the Company’s current Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, effective January 3, 2022.

“We are excited to announce this well deserved promotion for Scott. His demonstrated ability to oversee the Company’s finance and accounting operations in his current role as the Company’s Controller and his depth of experience in accounting will continue to be a great benefit to Xtant Medical,” said Sean Browne, President and Chief Executive Officer of Xtant Medical. “Additionally, we sincerely thank Greg for his dedication, leadership and lasting impact on the Company during his almost three-year tenure with the Company.”

Billings Clinic Bozeman physician leading NASA-funded study of the effects of space travel on blood cells
Press Release
January 26, 2022
Hansjorg Schwertz, MD, PhD, an Occupational Medicine physician at Billings Clinic Bozeman, hopes that someday soon he’ll get to watch a NASA spacecraft launch in person with his children and share an important life lesson.

“I want to hold my kids’ hands and watch that rocket go up,” Dr. Schwertz said. “I want them to see that and to tell them that you can fulfill your dreams if you push through and really love what you do. It’s about showing them that you can accomplish things if you follow your passion. But in addition, you need somebody believing in you, like my wife, who never gave up on me and my dream of having one of my experiments flying to orbit.”

When it happens, that rocket will be carrying a NASA-funded experiment, led by Dr. Schwertz in collaboration with a team from the University of Utah, where he is also an Adjunct Faculty, to the International Space Station (ISS). It will look at the effects of space travel on certain blood cells and could have implications on the health and well-being of astronauts for the travel and exploration of space.
Press Release
January 19, 2022
SiteOne Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing non-opioid treatments to address pain, cough and other conditions involving hypersensitivity of the nervous system, today announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will work together to advance potent and selective inhibitors of sodium ion channel 1.7 (NaV1.7) as non-opioid therapeutics for the treatment of pain. SiteOne will be responsible for research and early preclinical development activities, with Vertex responsible for subsequent development, and commercialization. SiteOne will receive an upfront payment and is eligible for development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, and royalties from Vertex if the program succeeds.

“Pain is an extremely common medical condition that severely affects quality of life. The existing standard of care for pain treatment relies heavily on opioid analgesics, which are not always effective and carry a high risk of side-effects, dependence, and abuse. A core mission of SiteOne is to identify non-opioid pain medicines that will be able to safely and effectively treat many different types of pain and other neurological conditions without the risk of dependence or abuse,” said John Mulcahy, Ph.D., CEO of SiteOne.

Denise Juneau Joins Bozeman Health as Chief Government and Community Affairs Officer
Corporate News
December 1, 2021
Bozeman Health is pleased to announce that Denise Juneau has accepted the position of chief government and community affairs officer on the Bozeman Health executive leadership team, starting January 3, 2022.

In this newly created role, Denise will be a critical leader and partner in informing and educating legislation and policy that impacts Bozeman Health. She will oversee the assessment, planning, and implementation of community priorities across the organization and continue to elevate and build strong partnerships across the health system, community, and state.

Montana/ University News
UM vaccine research expands, soon to conduct clinical trials

By Anna Henning, Montana Kaimin 
February 10, 2022 
As research programs grow at the University of Montana, a team of vaccine scientists are making headway into long-term COVID-19 prevention and clinical trials for an opioid vaccine.
Staff scientist Alex Riffey performs a protein quantitation assay under a lab hood as part of a series of vaccine research projects at the School of Pharmacy’s Center for Translational Medicine, Feb. 2, 2022. UM’s Vaccine Discovery and Development Team has researched and developed vaccines for opioid addiction, COVID-19, tuberculosis, influenza, pertussis, pseudomonas, lyme disease, E. coli and HIV. Antonio Ibarra / Montana Kaimin
UM’s Vaccine Discovery and Development Team at the Center for Translational Medicine has been researching and developing vaccines for opioid addiction, COVID-19, tuberculosis, influenza, pertussis, pseudomonas, lyme disease, E. coli and HIV.

The opioid, COVID-19 and tuberculosis programs have been gaining momentum recently, according to Jay Evans, director of the Center for Translational Medicine at UM.

The program’s opioid vaccine is under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin phase one clinical trials in 2023. This will be the first round of phase one clinical trials within the vaccine program. Evans said this will be a monumental shift for the program.

Student entrepreneurs win $10,000 in MSU’s annual Big Idea Challenge
From MSU News Service
January 19, 2022

Montana State University students who presented their entrepreneurial ideas at a competition held at the university during the fall semester earned prize money totaling $10,000
Twelve student semifinalists, chosen from 28 applicants, delivered pitches about their ideas during the third annual Big Idea Challenge hosted by the MSU Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship and the MSU Blackstone LaunchPad. The semifinalists included undergraduate and graduate students in business, computer science, mathematics, education, biochemistry, sustainable food systems and engineering. Their ideas included a virtual reality textbook, a new building material, a food incubator, a device to assist construction workers, various software solutions and a student-focused professional networking platform.

Individuals listen to Montana State University students presenting their entrepreneurial ideas at a competition held at the university during the fall semester. The students earned prize money totaling $10,000. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.
UM Earns Top-Tier ‘R1’ Research Status
February 7, 2022

In a major milestone for the University of Montana, UM is now a top-tier “R1” research institution.
Of the roughly 4,000 degree-granting institutions across the U.S., only 146 (about 3.7%) have achieved R1 status.
The honor was conferred last week by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education organization. The University was upgraded to the “Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity” classification, also known as R1.

Since the Carnegie classification system was created in 1970, generations of UM administrators and researchers have striven toward the goal of achieving R1 status. Of the roughly 4,000 degree-granting institutions across the U.S., only 146 (about 3.7%) are ranked in this elite group.

Industry News
Good Day BIO: Who gets money spent on brand-name drugs?

Good Day BIO Newsletter
January 11, 2022

More than half of total spending on brand-name medicines in 2020 went to “nonmanufacturer stakeholders—including PBMs, health plans, hospitals, the government, pharmacies, and others,” says a new report from Berkeley Research Group (BRG), the latest evidence that drug price controls aren’t the solution for controlling health care costs. 

The numbers: “Brand manufacturers retain just 37% of total spending on all prescription medicines (brand and generic medicines),” and 49.5% on brand medicines, says the studywhich was funded by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). 

So, who got the largest portion of new spending on brand medicines? “Payers—including insurers/plan sponsors, the government, and PBMs,” receiving more than $140 billion, or 35%. And manufacturers have gotten a lot less over the past decade: “The share of total brand spending retained by manufacturers fell by more than 17 percentage points from 2013 to 2020.”

Why it matters: “If lawmakers want to make care more affordable and accessible for patients in 2021 then drug price controls are far from the starting point,” concludes John. “These policies will do more harm than good and punish an industry—and the patients it helps—that has been both stable and critical during the fight against COVID-19.” 

Novoron Bioscience Awarded NIH Grant for Research Into Alzheimer's Disease

Funding will advance the investigation of a novel therapeutic approach

January 28, 2022
Novoron Bioscience, a San Diego-based biotechnology company developing first-in-class therapies to reverse central nervous system (CNS) damage, announced today that they have been awarded an NIA/NIH grant to advance their work into Alzheimer's Disease (AD), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and other tauopathies. Funding will be used to test Novoron's technology for the ability to reduce the spread of tau that is characteristic of various tauopathies. This research will be done in collaboration with Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Dr. Jennifer Rauch from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

"We were obviously very excited to learn of the amazing work done by Dr. Kosik, Dr. Rauch, and the rest of their team, identifying LRP1 as a central factor in tau pathology, which is relevant to several devastating diseases like Alzheimer's and CTE. As a company that has been working to develop LRP1 drugs for several years now, this is such an amazing opportunity to expand the impact of our platform," said Travis Stiles, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Novoron.

Ten Years After Gene Therapy for Leukemia, Doctors Say Patients Cured
By Robin Foster, Billings Gazette
February 2, 2022

More than 10 years after Doug Olsen underwent an experimental gene therapy that turned his T-cells into cancer killers, his leukemia has vanished, University of Pennsylvania doctors report.

“I’m doing great right now. I’m still very active. I was running half marathons until 2018,” Olson, 75, told the Associated Press. “This is a cure. And they don’t use the word lightly.”

Another patient, retired corrections officer Bill Ludwig, was also cured of his leukemia after receiving the one-time treatment, but has since died of complications from COVID.

Both cases were detailed in report published Wednesday in the journal Nature. This is the first time CAR-T therapy has been studied for so long, and the results show that it can not only mount an immediate attack on cancer, but it can remain in the body for years to keep the disease in check, the researchers said.

What's Happening?
Check out our new and updated website -

BIO Report Outlines Economic Impact of Booming Life Sciences Industry
By Alex Keown
January 21, 2022
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) provides a glimpse of economic development in the biosciences ecosystem at the state and regional levels. The report, which was developed in partnership with the Council of State Bioscience Associations (CSBA), was released as an industry analysis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the overall economy. 

The biosciences industry remains one of the strongest in the United States, providing high-paying jobs and positively boosting the nation's overall economy. States across the country are ramping up economic development efforts to reap the benefits of a booming industry, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization noted in its latest report.

Events Calendar
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 The Science and Conservation Center

One of the major efforts of the Science and Conservation Center at ZooMontana involves the humane control of wildlife populations by means of fertility control. To that end, the Science and Conservation Center was created in 1998, an independent non-profit organization that is the world’s only dedicated facility for the development of wildlife contraceptives and methods of application. This center produces and carries out quality control for a wildlife contraceptive vaccine, distributes the vaccine and is the repository for all records and data required by the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information about The Science and Conservation Center, check out their website at

Open Positions:

If you are interested in joining their team, we invite you to take a look at the job listings through the link above and email Kimberly Frank at or call her at (406) 652-9718.

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 BioScience Laboratories

Open Positions:

If you are interested in joining our team, we invite you to take a look at our job listings through Nelson Labs by visiting the Career Page and searching for Bozeman.

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

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 April 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.