NCBiotech News

We work hard to bring you the stories about the life science community in North Carolina. Every once in a while, we add a little news of our own. Read some of those stories below, or check out some of our perspectives on our staff blog.

Four new public health innovation laboratories will be started in July with grants of $100,000 to $350,000 each at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health.

It's the latest set of the targeted research projects funded from an earlier $50 million donation to the university from Dennis and Joan Gillings. Dennis Gillings is the founder of Research Triangle Park-based Quintiles Transnational.

Stiefel Laboratories, a Coral Gables, Fla. dermatology products firm with a research and development facility in Research Triangle Park, is seeking a buyer, according to reports last week in the Wall Street Journal and the Reuters news agency.

The reports indicate potential buyers of the privately held company include GlaxoSmithKline, with U.S. headquarters in RTP, as well as Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Abbott Laboratories, Sanofi-Aventis and Allergan.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based biodiesel company Global Earth Energy has issued a news release saying it plans to "establish relationships with local feedstock suppliers in North Carolina, a state with heavy concentrations of agriculture and meat processors."

K. Paul Knott, curriculum coordinator of the BioNetwork BioBusiness Center at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, will lead a free public discussion, "Biotechnology for the Non-Scientist," on April 16 at The North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

A $50,000 grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center will let seniors at Atkins Academic and Technology High School in Winston-Salem help produce and share animated educational videos about biotechnology through a joint project with local educators, scientists and animators.

Representatives of North Carolina farmers and growers will gather Thursday, March 25, at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis to discuss a state-supported network of "local food systems" in which local farmers would partner to supply local markets and restaurants.

That's among the topics to be considered when the Kannapolis-based North Carolina State University Program for Value-Added Alternative Agriculture hosts the Agricultural Advancement Consortium.

Southeast BIO (SE BIO), the nonprofit organization supporting growth of the life sciences in the Southeast, has launched Southeast BIOtech Connect, an interactive database that outlines more than 1,200 biotech companies and centers throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.

The launch of Southeast BIOtech Connect coincides with the fact that the 2009 BIO International Convention is being held this year in the Southeast -- in Atlanta, May 18 to 21, sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

North Carolina's business climate has boosted the Tar Heel state to the second-best ranking in the United States, according to a newly published survey of 543 CEOs conducted by Chief Executive magazine.

The fifth annual survey by the magazine moved North Carolina up from third place last year and fourth place in 2007. Texas topped the rankings in the "Best & Worst States" survey for the fourth consecutive year. South Carolina came in ninth and Georgia fourth.

BioDelivery Sciences International, a Raleigh firm developing new forms of oral drug-delivery systems, is looking forward to some major good news by midyear.

The firm said preliminary results are looking positive from a 14-person Phase 1 study assessing two formulations of a new painkiller technology for delivering the opioid analgesic buprenorphine via the company's proprietary BEMA drug delivery system.

There are now two official "Biotechnology Centers" in North Carolina.

One - the world's oldest, established by the General Assembly a quarter-century ago.

And the newest - dedicated last week by the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

And you could say they're from the same family.

North Carolinian Michael Luther, Ph.D., vice president, basic research and site head at the Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research in Montreal, has been named president of the David H. Murdock Research Institute of the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

Luther, a native of Albemarle, spent 15 years at GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park and in the UK and at its predecessor companies, Glaxo and Glaxo-Wellcome.

Close to half of the company semi-finalists in the annual Five Ventures interactive business plan competition are biotechnology companies.

UNC Charlotte's Charlotte Research Institute, which is host of the competition, expanded the categories for this year's competition to include medical devices as well as traditional drug discovery.

Durham-based HyperBranch Medical Technology, a 6-year-old medical device company that develops sealants for surgical use, has reached a marketing deal on its OcuSeal liquid eye bandage that lets Becton, Dickinson sell the product worldwide.

HyperBranch, which employs a dozen people, has been selling OcuSeal, its first product, through independent distributors overseas since it was cleared by European regulators in 2007, but it's still being evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Non-scientists interested in the emerging field of nanotechnology are invited to hear from experts Friday on the Duke University campus in Durham during a one-day symposium about using DNA to build structures and machinery measuring mere millionths -- or even billionths -- of a meter.

The Oxford-based Biofuels Center of North Carolina has distributed $2.77 million in 18 grants to help develop new non-food sources and improve production techniques to help grow a statewide biofuel industry.