Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2008 Nevada Biotech Awards-February 18th

Over 250 people attended the inaugural Nevada Biotech Awards Luncheon on February 18, 2008 honoring Senator Harry Reid and UNLV’s College of Sciences at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. Eight researchers from the College of Sciences had displays demonstrating some of the research that is taking place at UNLV. In addition, a number of biotech and life science companies had material at the luncheon. The luncheon was a sign that Las Vegas is becoming a center of biotechnology.

Senator Harry Reid arrived at noon and promptly introduced himself to the volunteers checking in the attendees. Later, John Laub, President of Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium (NevBio) escorted Senator Reid around the room and introduced him to each table. Reid had enough time to meet roughly half of the attendees before he had to sit down for his lunch.

The luncheon honored Senator Harry Reid and UNLV’s College of Sciences for their contributions to biotechnology in Nevada. Senator Harry Reid has secured more than $100 million for Nevada Universities. He is arguably the State’s leading supporter of higher education. UNLV's College of Sciences was selected because they have become on par with any school in the country in biotechnology and life sciences. They have increased the number of research grants, published papers, programs, awards, laboratories and students in just a few short years.

John Laub, President of NevBio opened and chaired the meeting. He brought up Daniel Montano, Chairman of the Board of the Regenerative Medicine Organization, the joint sponsor of the luncheon. Glenn Christenson of Velstand Investments, LLC spoke on behalf of the Nevada Development Authority. Linda Rubinson, Board Member of NevBio, gave the reasons that the NevBio Board selected UNLV's College of Sciences for the award. Jennifer Von Tobel of the Von Tobel BioMedical Institute presented the award. Dr.David Ashley and Dr. Ron Yasbin of UNLV accepted the award. NevBio Board Member, Judith Rebholz gave the reasons the board selected Senator Harry Reid. Dr. Maurizio Trevisan presented the award to Senator Reid. Senator Reid thanked the organization for the award and promised to continue to work hard for Nevada and to fund medical research.

In attendance from education were Michael Wixom, Chairman of the University Board of Regents, Dr. Maurizio Trevisan, CEO of University of Nevada Health Sciences System, UNLV President Dr. David Ashley, UNLV Dean of the College of Sciences Dr. Ron Yasbin, Dr. Michael Richards, President of the College of Southern Nevada, Judi Steel, Public Education Foundation and Ms. Jhone M. Ebert, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Clark County School District.

In attendance from industry and institutes, Dr. Thomas Stegmann, Co-Founder of CardioVascular BioTherapeutics, Inc., Daniel Montano, Co-founder & President of CardioVascular BioTherapeuetics, Inc., Sandra Murdock, President and COO of the Nevada Cancer Institute, Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, Executive Director of the Nevada Cancer Institute, Dr. David Ward, Deputy Director of the Nevada Cancer Institute and
Dr. Wilson Xu and Dr. Hui Zhang.

In attendance were several politicians, Jim Gibson, Mayor of Henderson, State Controller Kim Wallin and assemblyperson Valerie Weber.

In attendance from the community were Jennifer Von Tobel, Von Tobel Bio-Medical Institute; Dave Archer, Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and Claudine Williams of the UNLV Foundation.

Also, in attendance were ten UNLV students.

The event was a tremendous success and a sign that Las Vegas has become a center for biotechnology and life sciences.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Senator Harry Reid’s Support for Higher Education to be Recognized at the Nevada Biotech Awards Luncheon

“Having secured more than $100 million for Nevada universities, Senator Reid has arguably been the State’s leading supporter of higher education in Nevada,” said John Laub, President of the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium.

Laub said, “Biotechnology and bioscience are very research dependent. They require highly trained employees and obviously, higher education is crucial to the growth and expansion of biotechnology. Senator Reid’s strong belief in finding cures has been invaluable to the biotechnology discipline in Nevada and we are pleased to honor one of our State’s and one of the nation’s great leaders who has done so much to advance the biotechnology sector. It is for that reason that we have chosen to name this honor “The Harry Reid Biotechnology Award” and to present the Senator with the first award. U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is the recipient of the 2008 inaugural Harry Reid Award for Biotechnology in Nevada.

Additionally, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas’s College of Sciences will receive the organization award for Biotechnology in Nevada.

Thomas A. Thomas to Present Nevada Biotech Award

Thomas A. Thomas, son of E. Parry Thomas, an early supporter of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, has agreed to help present the 2008 Nevada Biotech Awards. Mr. Thomas will be presenting the award to UNLV’s College of Sciences which is receiving the award for the Organization that has Advanced Biotechnology in Nevada. Mr. Thomas’s father, E. Parry Thomas and Jerry Mack helped secure a portion of the land that UNLV now occupies. The Thomas and Mack Center is named after E. Parry Thomas and Jerry Mack. The Thomas and Mack families continue to be strong supporters of the university.

Senator Harry Reid is receiving the Nevada Biotech award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to Biotechnology in Nevada. The award is being presented by Dr. Maurizio Trevisan, CEO of the University of Nevada Health Sciences System.

Eight UNLV Scientists Displaying Latest Research at Nev Biotech Awards Luncheon

Eight scientists from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) will be displaying their research at the Nevada Biotech Awards luncheon on February 18th. UNLV Research Projects on Display:

“Identification of an In Vivo Inhibitor of Bacillus anthracis Stern Spore Germination”Ernesto Abel-Santos, Associate Professor, Chemistry Department

Spore germination is the first step in anthrax pathogenesis. Inhibition of germination implies no development of vegetative bacteria, no toxins and no death. There are seven putative germination receptors encoded by tricistronic operons and five germination pathways.

“A Mathematical Model for Polymorphism Within and Between Two Related Species”
Amei Amei, Assistant Professor, Mathematics Department

Characterizing the various forces that shape patterns of genetic polymorphism within and between species is a goal of population genetics (Hartl and Clark 2007). Statistical inference using Poisson random field models can provide powerful likelihood and Bayesian methods for quantifying some of the forces, such as mutation and directional selection.

“Life is Hard Then You Die: Age, Flight Behavior and Senescence in the Honey Bee”Michelle Elekonich, Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences

Foraging bees produce the highest mass-specific metabolic rate ever measured while flying. Conservative estimates suggest these hard working flight muscles contract over 4 million times per day. Thus foragers’ flight muscles may experience high levels of oxidative stress during normal daily activities. An average lifespan of bees is 3 -4 weeks.

“Effects of GSK-3B Inhibitors on Stabilization of p53 and B-Catenin”
Ron Gary, Associate Professor, Chemistry Department

B-catenin is a bifunctional protein. It associates with cadherins as part of a membrane-cytoskeletal linkage in cell-cell adhesions, and it acts as a transcription factor for cell proliferation in the Wnt signaling pathway. Levels of B-catenin are controlled mainly by glycogen synthase kinase 3B (GSK-3B), a constitutively active kinase that suppresses B-catenin. There appears to be a regulatory feedback mechanism that connects GSK-3B activity and B-catenin to changes in the p53 tumor suppressor protein.

“Thermodynamic Modeling as a Predictive Tool for Determining Energy Availability in Great Basin Hot Springs” Brian Hedlund, Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences

Photosynthesis does not occur in geothermal systems above ~73ÂșC, so energy for primary production within these systems must come from chemolithotrophy.. Furthermore, 16S rRNA gene libraries from many hot springs in the Great Basin are dominated by unknown groups of Archaea and Bacteria.

“Transferring Biomechanics Research to New Technologies in Robotic Locomotion”David Lee, Associate Professor, School of Life sciences

Comparative biomechanics can elucidate the complex dynamics that underly animal movement in terrestrial environments. Solutions have led to the locomotor principles which have informed the mechanical design and control of BigDog (Boston Dynamics, Inc.), the world’s most advanced legged robot, and continue to promote our understanding of mechanical design in animals.

“Insect Flapping Aerofoil Propulsion in Variable Density Atmospheres: A Model for the Design and Function of Micro Aerial Vehicles”
Stephen Roberts, Associate Professor, School of Life Sciences

The success of current efforts to develop micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) will depend on the ability of MAVs to vary aerodynamic forces during operation in variable-density atmospheres and exploration of novel, irregular landscapes. Flapping aerofoil propulsion (vs. fixed-wing design) is amenable to MAVs due to enhanced lift generation, drag reduction, and maneuverability.

“Roles and Regulation of the Shigella Outer Membrane Protease, IcsP”Helen Wing, Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences

Omptins are a family of proteases that are found associated with outer membranes of a number of gram negative bacteria. In Salmonella, the omptin PgtE has been shown to provide resistance against cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) [1]. The overall aim of this study is to determine whether PgtE and IcsP can functionally substitute for each other.

John Laub, President of the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium said, “It’s exciting to see a portion of the research that is going on at UNLV and it's a great opportunity mort importantly, attendees will have a chance to talk to the scientists.”

The Nevada Biotechnology Awards luncheon will be held Monday, February 18, 2008 at the Wynn Hotel. Tickets for the luncheon are $75 and $125. The luncheon starts at 11:30.