Could “convergence” meetings such as this one coming up next month in Michigan be a sign of things to come in? The April 4 IT Forum ``Life Sciences/Biotech: Why Here, Why Now?'' at the Crowne Plaza, 610 Hilton Blvd., in Ann Arbor, will be co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor IT Zone and The Michigan Biosciences Industry Association.
Forum speakers are Gilbert S. Omenn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for Medical Affairs at the University of Michigan; James R. Baker, Jr., M.D., founder of NanoBio, an Ann Arbor biopharmaceutical company that is commercializing its patented biologic nanotechnology applications; and Ernest Andalcio, executive director and informatics site director at Pfizer Global Research and Development Ann Arbor Laboratories.
``We're fortunate to have these world-class research scientists so close at hand and willing to share their insights and perspectives on the growing commercialization of biotechnology,'' said Claudia Rast, chair of the 2002 IT Forum events for the IT Zone. ``The event and the sponsors represent a real convergence between the technological and life science communities,'' she added.
Andalcio is responsible for development and delivery of informatics innovations vital to the drug discovery process. Within his organization of Informatics and Information Technology professionals are several hundred colleagues dedicated to their role in improving patients' lives. Andalcio joined Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis just prior to its merger with Pfizer. He has over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Andalcio was the honored recipient of the 2001 Pfizer Marissa D. Jackson Leadership award.
Omenn is Chief Executive Officer of the University of Michigan Health System and a Professor in the departments of Internal Medicine, Human Genetics, and Public Health. His research interests include chemoprevention of cancers, genetic predispositions to environmental and occupational health hazards, health promotion for older adults, science-based risk analysis, and health policy. Omenn is the author of 363 research papers and scientific reviews and author/editor of 17 books. He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1978.
Baker's research is in several aspects of host defense mechanism and immunologic diseases. He has recently been involved in work concerning gene transfer and drug delivery. These studies have produced new vector systems for gene transfer using dendritic polymers and have the potential to revolutionize pharmaceutical therapy. Recently, Baker's work with synthetic lipid and polymeric nanostructures has resulted in the development of a new class of antimicrobial agents with activity against gram positive bacteria and spores, fungi and viruses. This project has led to a start-up biotechnology company named NanoBio Corporation.
In recognition of the success of this research, in July, 1998 Baker was appointed Director of the newly organized Center for Biologic Nanotechnology at the University of Michigan. This center promotes a multi- disciplinary approach to study the application of nanomaterials to cellular engineering, drug delivery and gene transfer, and is supported by over $25 million dollars in federal grants and. In June 2001 Baker was inaugurated as the first recipient of the Ruth Dow Doan Endowed Professorship in Biologic Nanotechnology. Because Baker has distinguished himself as both a national and international leader in the field of biologic nanotechnology, in October 2001 Baker was named as the first recipient of the U-M Dean's Innovation Award. This award was given in recognition of who developed innovations that radically improve or transform clinic outcomes, educational processes, or research processes. Baker was also named the Co-Director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering in the School of Engineering in May 2001.