George Mason Participates in Statewide Biotechnology Conference

Posted: October 13, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Patty Snellings

“Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of the DNA Double Helix” is the theme of this year’s Virginia Biotechnology Summit, the annual meeting of the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VaBIO). The program begins today and runs through Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the McLean Hilton in Tysons Corner, and is expected to attract more than 600 attendees from biotechnology, government, education, and research arenas around the state.

Jerald Coughter, George Mason’s director of life sciences management, is a VaBIO board member and serves as program chairman for this year’s summit. “Because the biotechnology industry is scattered around the state, this annual event offers a prime networking opportunity, especially for smaller organizations located outside Northern Virginia,” he says.

George Mason joins more than 50 exhibitors to showcase its academic and research programs in life sciences, bioinformatics, nursing, neuroscience, and bioscience management. Coughter moderates panel discussions on biodefense technologies and post-Sept. 11 biotechnology. Ken Alibek, Charles Bailey, and Raymond Weinstein, scientists in the university’s National Center for Biodefense, along with Vikas Chandhoke, associate dean for science in the College of Arts and Sciences, are panel participants.

“The university’s highly visible presence at the summit is yet another indication of its growing influence and prestige in life sciences research in Northern Virginia and throughout the region,” adds Coughter. “It is a chance to connect with industry leaders and private sector scientists, as well as scientists and administrators from other academic institutions.”

Participants will hear from experts in areas such as biodefense, gene therapy, medical devices, intellectual property, bioinformatics, venture capital, nanotechnology, and federal funding opportunities. Featured speakers include Michael Blaese, director of the Fund for Inherited Disease Research; Kelly Longo, who leads Global Strategic Alliances for Pfizer Global Research and Development; Dale Klein, assistant secretary of defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs; and Eric Jakobsson, newly appointed director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the National Institutes of Health. In addition, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, presumed candidates in the Virginia 2005 gubernatorial election, offer their views on the future of research universities and biotechnology development in the commonwealth.

VaBIO, located in Richmond, is a 220-member statewide trade organization that promotes the scientific and economic impact of the biotechnology industry in Virginia. For more information, visit VaBIO’s web site.

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