Georgia Bio Hosts 15th Annual Innovation Summit

Hundreds of life science and biotech innovators, scientists, and entrepreneurs from around the state and nation gathered in Atlanta last month for the 2016 Innovation Summit hosted by Georgia Bio. The day-long annual summit provided an excellent opportunity for life science professionals from both the public and private sectors to network while learning about major issues and challenges facing the life science industries. These topics included biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, agricultural biotechnology, and healthcare IT.

Four early-stage UGA bioscience projects and startups were spotlighted at the Summit’s Innovation Stage. MJM Chemical, founded by Richard Morrison, department of chemistry, showcased the efficient production of important bioactive amines such as serotonin and histamine. Chemical Glue presented nanopolymer coating technology developed by Jason Locklin, department of chemistry and College of Engineering. Proventus Bio CEO Stephen Bell highlighted his company’s work to enhance bioproduction through genetic engineering of vaccine and biotherapeutic cell lines based on work from Ralph Tripp and Mark Tompkins. Lisa Shollenberger McEwen, co-founder and CSO of EnduraVax, provided an overview of her company’s VacSIM technology, which significantly improves the efficacy of vaccines, based on work in Don Harn’s lab in the infectious disease department.

The University of Georgia was also well represented in the plenary and breakout sessions conducted throughout the day. A panel on vaccine development and delivery to address current and emerging infectious diseases featured Ted Ross, GRA Eminent Scholar in Infectious Diseases and director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunology at UGA; Robert McNally, President and CEO of GeoVax, an Atlanta vaccine development company; and Stephen Bell, CEO of UGA start-up Proventus Bio. Innovation Gateway Director Derek Eberhart served as moderator.

In a different panel discussion, Crystal Leach, the Director of Discovery and Innovation Partnerships at UGA, explained how Georgia’s research universities can be leveraged to take new products to market. UGA’s Steve Stice, GRA Eminent Scholar, director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center, and CSO of UGA startup ArunA Biomedical, participated in a separate research and innovation panel session targeting successful cell manufacturing. Innovation Gateway Associate Director Cory Acuff served on the Georgia Bio Innovation Summit’s executive and program committees.