Where’s the future of biotech? Right here in Maryland.

Reg Seeto

WRITTEN BY

Reg Seeto, MD

Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics, said it well: Maryland is America in miniature. Rothblatt’s comment came during a panel presentation at this year’s Maryland Regional Biotech Forum, an event held here early last week and attended by more than 400 leaders of local life sciences companies, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, investment funds and government entities. Rothblatt was joined on the panel by several other biotech founders and CEOs, including Dan Abjun-Nabi of Emergent BioSolutions; Bill Enright from Vaxin; Angela Graham of Quality Biological; and Scott Koenig of Macrogenics.

That panel—An Industry Perspective on the MD/DC/VA Biotech Cluster—was a lively and intense discussion around identifying the current barriers and strengths we can draw upon to outline concrete steps toward our commitment to become one of the top three biotech hubs in the United States by 2023. We’re close, but our goal is to raise the proverbial bar even more.

As Rothblatt and the other panelists discussed, Maryland is a microcosm of the country, with strengths across all sectors. We have government and private industry, world-class academic institutions, a robust investment sector, a community of entrepreneurs, and science…do we ever have science. There are more than 800 established and emerging biotech companies in the region. This is in addition to leading research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University System of Maryland, and federal agencies that include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—and they were all represented at this event.

Like MedImmune and our other hosts at this year’s Biotech Forum— BioHealth Innovation and the Tech Council of Maryland—each of these entities has an unbridled commitment to science, medicine and patients, and to building a vigorous network focused on discovery and innovation.

To this end, the Biotech Forum is just one of the many ways we come together as a group to continually develop strategies to grow and strengthen our regional biotech ecosystem. But, it’s one of the most important and influential ways we do this. The industry perspective panel was just one among many discussion forums held during this two-day event. We also hosted panels that offered specific perspectives on creating a biotech cluster: industry, academic, government—state, local and federal—and venture capital. Plus, there were panel forums focused on cutting edge therapeutic topics such as immuno-oncology, personalized medicine in R&D, and infectious disease vaccines—all areas for which this region can boast of world-class leaders.

This year for the first time, we also presented the Leaders of Tomorrow Summit, which was held on the second day of the Biotech Forum. This important program featured students, young biotech leaders, the biopharma industry, government and entrepreneurs. The point of this initiative was to bring together young biotech visionaries with established leaders from different sectors to challenge each other through discussions and seminars, as well as to establish strong and enduring connections.

In all, the two-day event attracted more than 400 individuals from across the region, including university presidents, CEOs, and state and federal agency leaders. I guarantee you that we all walked away feeling inspired, challenged and energized by what we each have to offer and how the sum of our parts will most certainly equal one of the strongest biotech ecosystems in the world.

Panel of local university presidents provides academic perspective on growing our region to a top three biotech hub by 2023.