Biosciences conference to look at ways to help sector grow in WV - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Biosciences conference to look at ways to help sector grow in WV

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One of West Virginia's growing business sectors sometimes gets overlooked in a time when the majority of lawmakers' attention seems to be focused on energy issues, landing an ethane cracker and maintaining a balanced budget.

But members of the state's bioscience sector hope to change that next week.

The Bioscience Association of West Virginia will host its second annual West Virginia Biosciences Summit from noon – 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Town Center Marriott in Charleston.

The summit will feature several speakers who will discuss the role of the biosciences industry in diversifying the state's economy.  

Featured speakers include Grady Vanderhoofven, fund manager for Meritus Ventures and the Southern Appalachian Fund, who will discuss trends in bioscience investing and strategies other Appalachian companies are successfully using to acquire funding. Meritus Ventures and the Southern Appalachian Fund make equity investments in rural central and southern Appalachian companies.  

In addition, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who recognized Morgantown-based Protea Biosciences in his Jan. 11 State of the State Address, will speak to the importance for growing the bioscience and innovation industries in West Virginia.

John Deiriggi, senior vice president of North American operations for Mylan, also has confirmed he will be speaking at the summit.

"The purpose of the event is to highlight the role and impact of the bioscience industry in West Virginia, showcase research and commercialization efforts taking place at state universities and private companies, and to discuss policies and programs to help nurture the industry," Derek Gregg, chairman of the of the Bioscience Association of West Virginia, said. "This is an important industry for our state, and it will become an economic cornerstone in the years to come."

Other speakers at the summit include:  Paul Hill, interim chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; Jeff Trewhitt, senior director of communications & public affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufactures of America; Jeane Haggerty, senior director for federal government relations for the national Biotechnology Industry Organization; Bryan Prosek, an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC; and Ryan Aaron, an attorney with Jackson Kelley PLLC.

The summit also will feature a panel discussion to bring together university researchers and representatives to highlight the breadth of research being conducted in the state. Panel participants will include Dr. Laura Gibson, deputy director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; Dr. Richard Niles, with the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University; Dr. Cerasela Zoica Dinu, with the West Virginia University Dept. of Chemistry/WV NANO; Dr. Michael Norton with Marshall University; and Jean Chappell with Mountwest Community & Technical College.

A separate panel will feature West Virginia bioscience companies and the work they are doing.  Presenters include: Derek Gregg of Vandalia Research; Steve Turner with Protea Biosciences; Jamie Miller of TRAX Bio Discovery; and Deepay Mukergee of Progenesis.

The summit is designed to bring together West Virginia's bioscience community — which ranges from private companies and university researchers to suppliers and funders — as well as policy and opinion leaders, economic developers and others to learn how to successfully grow and nurture the industry.  The biosciences comprise biotechnology and life science companies and biomedical research entities.

"The bioscience industry is creating new technologies — pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technologies, chemical processes and more — that not only advance science but provide high-wage jobs to West Virginia residents," said Gregg. "This conference will bring people together to highlight what is currently underway and to discuss how we can grow the industry."

The summit's sponsors are the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, Jackson Kelly PLLC, Pfizer, Amgen and TechConnectWV.  BioWV also receives funding through a grant by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

To see the agenda or to register for the event, visit the following link:

For information, contact Bryan Brown at 304-546-5500, or visit the website at:

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