October 'On the Road' with Stephen Rapundalo
Monday, October 13, 2014
Wow...the last month was a complete blur! But the toughest part of our activities calendar is now behind us.
September ended with the hosting of the 10th annual MichBio Expo & Conference. We were back in Detroit for the first time since the inception of the event in 2005, and approximately 375 attendees thoroughly enjoyed the venue at the MotorCity Casino Hotel. Wayne State University and Michigan Economic Development Corporation generously co-hosted this year’s Expo.
An optional Bioscience Facilities Tour allowed participants to make stops at Henry Ford Health (Innovation Institute and Simulation Laboratory, TechTown (MitoStem, Asterand, Ecotek and Michigan Neonatal BioBank), FDA District Office & Laboratory, and Wayne State University (Applied Genomics Technology Center, Microscopy, Imaging & Cytometry Resources and Proteomics Core).
The theme for this year’s event, “Regulating Innovation: Advancing Access to Healthcare” carried through the entire program. Stephen Lanier, PhD, the new Vice President of Research at Wayne State University, welcomed attendees on behalf of the co-host institution and talked about all the great changes that the school has embarked on in support of the biosciences.
Joseph V. Gulfo, MD, CEO of Breakthrough Innovations, clinician, serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and recent author of “Innovation Breakdown: How the FDA and Wall Street Cripple Medical Advances”, kicked things off at the Plenary Luncheon. He delivered a passionate and riveting account of how processes are broken at the FDA, and the types of fixes needed to be made for patients to gain quicker access to safe and efficacious treatments, procedures and cures.
The rest of Day 1 featured sessions on regulatory reform and support services available to Michigan start up bioscience companies, as well as the first set of Bioscience Showcase company pitches. The day ended with a Bio-Industry Town Hall with guest Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) who discussed a range of legislative issues and a prognosis on what the impact may be depending on election outcomes.
A Legislator of the Year Award was each presented to retiring Reps. John Dingell and Dave Camp, and Sen. Carl Levin for their long-standing support of Michigan’s bio-industry. Rep. Dingell appeared in person to accept his award, and Gale Goevare, Regional Director for Sen. Levin accepted on his behalf.
The first day ended with the Opening Reception and presentation of the 2014 Good to Great Award to Esperion Therapeutics.
Day 2 of the Expo saw more sessions on payment reform, disease foundation-industry collaborations, communicating and marketing product regulations, and physician-hospital-payer strategic thinking. Two more sets of Bioscience Showcase company pitches occurred. More than a 100 students packed in the College Program to hear from eight industry panelists discuss career paths, job hunting tips, industry expectations, behavioral and technical skillset requirements. A CEOs Unplugged session featured executives from Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing , Swift Biosciences, GraMedica and the University Research Corridor discuss the state of Michigan’s bio-industry.
Judges selected the 2014 Emerging Biosciences Showcase winners: ONL Therapeutics won the top prize of $2500 and Sisu Global Health was the runner up at $500. Congrats to both!
The 2014 Expo & Conference came to a close in an unqualified manner with a phenomenal “fireside chat” with U.S. Food & Administration Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, M.D. The hour-long session touched on a number of key issues related to the regulatory agency’s mission and activities.
On Friday, October 3rd MichBio and Wayne State University co-hosted the 2014 MichBio Career Day on the school’s campus. Over 100 students from as far as Bear Lake and Ogemaw County (look both of those up!) showed up to take in the various technology centers and presentations in biology, biomedical engineering, bio/chemistry, anthropology, and biophysics. The day capped off at TechTown where visitors heard about the incubator and from the facility’s bioscience tenants like MitoStem and Ecotek.
With the Expo behind us, I then was off to the AdvaMed2014 Conference in Chicago, IL that ran from October 6-8. The annual medical devices conference brought together approximately 2,600 attendees and made for an excellent networking opportunity.
I had to make a quick, same-day detour from the Conference on October 7 to attend the 21st Century Cures Roundtable in Kalamazoo, MI. The event was hosted by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) who serves as Chair of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee. The roundtable featured an illustrious panel including Rep. Dr. Michael Burgess (Vice Chair E&C Subcommittees on Health), Dr. Francis Collins (Director, National Institutes of Health), Dr. Jeff Shuren (Director, FDA Center for Devices & Radiological Health), Kevin Lobo (CEO, Stryker), Stephen Benoit (CEO, Metabolic Solutions Development), Kirsten Axelsen (VP, Worldwide Policy, Pfizer), Richard Stec (VP, Global Regulatory Affairs, Perrigo Company), Dr. Hal Jenson, Founding Dean and Professor, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine), Dr. Peter Jones (Research Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Van Andel Institute), Tony Mandarino (Director, Alex Mandarino Foundation) and Dr. Joseph Mirro (President, CEO, and Chief Medical Officer, West Michigan Cancer Center).
Then back it was to AdvaMed2014 where I attended the CEOs Reception... CEOs of most of the major medtech corporations (Covidien, Edwards, Zimmer, Stryker, etc.) were present that provided great access to influential industry leaders.
The next day, I chaired a panel session, “Medical Technology: A Vehicle for Progress and Economic Development in the States” that featured my fellow association executives, Jessica Crawford, CEO of MedTech (New York) and Thomas Summer, CEO of MassMedic (Massachusetts), along with Tom Tremble, Vice President, State Government Affairs at AdvaMed and Kevin McKinnon, Executive Director at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. We discussed what various states and regions are deploying to support growth of their medtech clusters.
With nary a breath to be missed, MichBio hosted Linda Tharby, Biosciences Segment President, BD on October 9 in Ann Arbor for the next installment of the CEO Leaders Club event series. Ms. Tharby was a last-minute, but nonetheless dynamic, replacement for Vincent Forlenza (CEO and President) who couldn’t attend due to the announcement last week that BD was acquiring CareFusion in a $12 billion deal. We discussed a number of leadership and management style issues, not the least of which, respecting and ensuring diversity in the workplace and boardroom...a very insightful discourse.
Well, that’s it for now...though no rest for the weary as I travel once again to chair a session at this week’s MD&M Chicago event. Don’t forget that MichBio members receive a 20% discount on registration.