2014 MichBio Expo & Conference includes appearances by Congressman John Dingell, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and U.S. FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD
MichBio, the association for Michigan’s biosciences industry, welcomed over 350 bioscience professionals, service providers, and students to its 10th Annual Expo & Conference on September 30 and October 1 in Detroit, MI.
The 2014 event theme was “Regulating Innovation: Advancing Access to Healthcare” and was co-hosted by Wayne State University and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The event unofficially began at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 30 with an optional four-hour bus tour of Detroit-area bioscience facilities. Nearly 30 people visited the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Detroit District Laboratory, the Henry Ford Health System (Center for Simulation, Education, and Research; Innovation Institute; MicroSurgical Laboratory); the Detroit TechTown companies of Asterand, Ecotek, MitoStem, and the Michigan Neonatal BioBank; and Wayne State University’s Applied Genomics Technology Center.
The plenary speaker, Joseph V. Gulfo, MD, MBA, officially kicked off the event during a luncheon that also featured Wayne State University’s Vice President for Research Stephen Lanier. Gulfo, the CEO of Breakthrough Medical Innovations, discussed the inspiration behind his 2014 book Innovation Breakdown: How the FDA and Wall Street Cripple Medical Advances (Post Hill Press).
On Tuesday afternoon Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sat down with MichBio President and CEO Stephan Rapundalo during the Bio-Industry Town Hall session. Stabenow and Rapundalo discussed the current state of the Michigan bio-science industry before Jim Eichhorst, the director of state government relations at the Biotechnology Industry Association, joined Rapundalo on stage. The session concluded with the presentation of the annual Legislator of the Year awards. Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) accepted his award in person; other 2014 recipients included Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI).
The 2014 Good to Great award was presented to Ann Arbor-based Esperion Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company “focused on developing first-in-class, oral, low-density, lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering therapies for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and other cardiometabolic risk markers.”
The conference’s second day brought over 100 student attendees to the College Program, a career-focused panel session of bio-science industry professionals and academics, and the conclusion of the Emerging Bioscience Showcase pitch competition. Nine companies competed with top honors—and a prize of $2,500—going to ONL Therapeutics, a biopharma company dedicated to the discovery and early clinical development of drugs to treat retinal disorders. SISU Global Health, a medical technology company tailored to Sub-Saharan Africa, took 2nd place and $500.
A ‘fireside chat’ with keynote speaker Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ended the conference. As FDA Commissioner, Hamburg advances regulatory science, medical product innovation, and agency globalization, and oversees the implementation of laws to curb the use of tobacco and enhance food safety. Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Hamburg is the second woman to serve as commissioner.