Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Father of Alzheimer’s Research to Speak at NevBio May Mtg

Dr. Zaven Khachaturian is widely recognized around the world as the father of Alzheimer’s research in the United States. Dr. Khachaturian is speaking at the May 8, 2008 lunch meeting of the Nevada Biotechnology & Bioscience Consortium (NevBio) at the Panevino Restaurant on Sunset and Via Antonio Rd (246 Via Antonio).

Dr. Khachaturian is also President and CEO of the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute and Keep Memory Alive, Inc., a Nevada based not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding cures for memory, mood and movement disorders associated with diseases related to dementia, including such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, and other neurodegenerative conditions.

He is responsible for planning, staffing and developing the medical and scientific programs of the Institute, which will be housed in the Frank Gehry-designed building in Las Vegas.

Dr. Khachaturian is best known as the architect of most scientific programs of research on brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease supported by the U.S. Government.

Dr. Khachaturian maintains a full schedule as an author and public speaker on such topics as: Aging, Alzheimer’s disease, Politics of Science, Prospects of Preventing Disabilities of Aging, Barriers to the Development of Effective Treatments, and Revolutions in Models of Care and Future trends in Research.

He is also the ‘Senior Science Advisor’ to the Alzheimer’s Association and serves as the Editor-in-chief of Alzheimer’s Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s

He serves on the editorial boards of several publications and the advisory committees of many organizations. He provides guidance to universities, foundations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and nursing homes in formulating strategies for: program evaluation, planning, legislative initiatives, development/fund raising and media relations.

Formerly, he was Director of the Ronald & Nancy Reagan Research Institute of the Alzheimer’s Association. He was also the former Director of the Office of Alzheimer’s Disease Research, which coordinated all Alzheimer’s disease-related activities at the National Institutes of Heal in Bethesda, Maryland. During the same period he also served as the Associate Director of the Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program at the National Institution on Aging at NIH. During nearly twenty years of government service, he occupied progressively more responsible positions dealing with a broad range of national scientific and technical issues concerning the development and funding of national research programs/initiatives on: brain aging, neurological disorders, diagnostic criteria and standards, research infrastructure for clinical trials, drug discovery programs, intellectual property rights, regulatory issues and cultivation of human resources.

The Thursday, May 8th NevBio meeting will be at the Panevino Italian Restaurant at 246 Via Antonio. Check-in and networking start at 11:30 AM and the meeting will start at 12 PM. The cost is $30. Pay at the door or online at Credit cards, cash, checks accepted. Please RSVP to Judith Rebholz 839-7201 or

UNLV has new Technology Transfer Director

Dr. Robert Sweitzer is the new Director of the Office of Technology Transfer at UNLV and will be focusing on increasing UNLV’s patents and licensing opportunities. This is an area that can generate big revenue for UNLV. Dr. Sweitzer will help faculty and students with patent and copyright procedures, licensing, venture capital, business incubation and starting companies.

Dr.Swietzer told Linda Rubinson, Director of Development for NevBio, that he is especially exited about UNLV’s Genome Center. He believes that it has great promise for new research and patenting opportunities.

Dr. Stan Smith, Associate Vice President for Research said that UNLV is firmly behind technology transfer at UNLV. He said in press release, “President Ashley’s desire [is] to advance UNLV’s research agenda, we are committed to taking technology transfer to a new level of activity.” UNLV College of Sciences has been doing their part by pushing new research and hiring new talented researchers.

Sweitzer had worked with Technology Ventures Corporation in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where from 2005 to 2007 he was Director of Project Development and Business Assistance and concurrently served on the marketing faculty at New Mexico State University. From 1993 to 2005 he was founder and president of The Matrix Group in Redlands, Calif., where he developed marketing strategies and business development programs for southern California companies. He also served on the faculty of Pepperdine University in 2004-2005 and Claremont Graduate University from 1989 to 2004. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Purdue University and an MBA and Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

1. “UNLV Appoints Technology Transfer Director.” Press Release. UNLV’s Division of Research and Graduate Studies. January 30, 2008.

NevBio Goes to Washington DC

Seven members of Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium traveled to Washington DC to promote Biotechnology in the State of Nevada. See more at NevBio in DC

Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) sponsored seven members of the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium to be in Washington DC on April 15th and 16th to attend several briefings on issues concerning the industry and to provide an opportunity to discuss biotechnology with the Nevada Congressional Delegation

The industry is concerned about proposed changes in patenting, the need to increase funding to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), opening up the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programs to companies that have taken venture capital funding and to provide broader support of Biofuels initiatives.

The Nevada Biotechnology & Bioscience Consortium group included: John Laub, Nev Bio Executive Director; Linda Rubinson, Nev Bio Development Director; Ron Yasbin, Dean of the College of Sciences at UNLV; Carl Reiber, Associate Dean of the College of Sciences at UNLV; Oliver Hemmers, Director of Strategic Energy Programs at UNLV; Jennifer Von Tobel, Executive Director of the Von Tobel Bio-Medical Institute and Trish Williamson, Marketing Director of the Von Tobel Bio-Medical Institute.

The delegation met with the following:

Senator Reid’s office included Jason Unger, Brittany Blanchard, Neil Kornze, Carolyn Gluck, Michael Castellano and Mark Wetjen.

Senator John Ensign’s office included Jason D. Mulvihill, Andrew Shaw, Brooke Allmon and John Lopez

Congresswoman’s Shelley Berkeley’s office included Congresswoman Shelly Berkeley, Matthew R. Coffron and Jeremy Kadden.

Congressman’s Jon Porter office included Congressman Jon Porter, Stan Olsen and John Minn.

Congressman Dean Heller office included Congressman Dean Heller, Leeann Walker and Stewart "Mac" Bybee.

NevBio President is Health Care Headliner

By Danielle Birkin, Contributing writer In-Business

John Laub believes the transition from the information age to the biotech age is afoot, and as executive director of the Nevada Biotechnology & Bioscience Consortium (NevBio) — a volunteer, nonprofit organization comprised of companies, institutes, academia, researchers, scientists and individuals interested in biotech and life sciences — Laub is poised to disseminate information, encourage business development and promote scientific investigation and education. Laub is a native Nevadan who has a background in accounting finance and is also executive director of the Regenerative Medicine Organization. He said NevBio was founded a year ago when he and a group of colleagues attended the Regenerative Medicine Conference. Impressed with new research and opportunities, they decided to create an organization to bring a focus and create a synergy to the advancements made in life sciences. “The mission of the group is awareness,
education and partnership,” said Laub, one of the four co-founders. “We need to make Nevadans aware that we are entering the biotech century,” he said, adding that our kids need to learn and understand biology because it will be as important to the younger generation as knowing computers and the Internet was to the previous generation. “And
it takes education and business to work together. … This will help Nevada by providing
economic development, new treatments and an increased number of clinical trials for Nevadans and better health care as doctors in Nevada are exposed to new treatments and more resources.” “In one short year, we’ve had a tremendous impact because Las Vegas and Nevada are ready for this,” Laub said.

“The advances that are occurring in science and medicine are exciting and I feel like I have a front-row seat to some of the greatest discoveries that are going to change mankind. Craig Venter, who helped bring about the making of the first synthetic bacterial genome, said that the science is important, but getting the word out about the science is just as important, so we all have a role.”

Laub said science and math education are strongly emphasized in Southern Nevada
— thanks, in part, to a push from parents, teachers and the Clark County School District — which will help prepare young people for the biotechnology revolution.

“But we need to make people aware of what’s going on in biotechnology so we can start attracting developing companies and encouraging research,” he said. “Right now, we have students graduating from the college of sciences at UNLV who can’t find jobs here and we want to change that. We’d like to keep them here … because this is our best and our brightest. We can become more than a tourist destination. We can become a center for biotechnology and I think we will because people in Las Vegas think out of the box and they are risk-takers, and that’s what’s going to make a difference in becoming a biotech center.”

Health Care Headliners

Sunday, April 6, 2008

BioProspecting Nevada’s Geothermal Ecosystems: Dr. Hedlund's Talk at March Mtg

Brian Hedlund, Ph.D, a microbiologist and Associate Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, spoke at the March 12, 2008 Nev Bio Meeting.

Five years ago, UNLV had a vision to build a world class Microbiology Department. According to Carl Reiber, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the College of Sciences this department’s second hire was Brian Hedlund, Ph.D. Brian is a remarkable teacher and researcher, who according to Dr Reiber produced leading edge microbial studies coupled with extraordinary discoveries of new species. Brian’s innovation and accomplishment contributed to his wining the First NSF Career Award. This 5 year, $800,000 award has supported the development and continued studies of microbes found in the hot springs peppered across the state of Nevada. Since many of these hot springs are found on sacred American Indian sites, a natural extension of the projects became the collaboration with tribal schools to study the integration of cultures, ecological development, geochemistry and environmental impact.

The State of Nevada has hundreds of hot springs, each with diversified chemical composition. These hot springs are the result of a very active tectonically active zone where rifting plates cause the hot springs closer to the surface. In the northwest corner of our state there are three areas that are especially active: Surprise Valley, Great Boiling Springs and Long Valley Caldera. Long Valley is the second largest caldera in the country, with Yellowstone being the first.

The microbes that live in these hot springs are sustained through a number of processes that assimilate carbon for nutrition in temperatures up to 73 degrees Celsius. At this excessively high temperature, no life can exist. It is not completely clear how these organisms work, survive or feed. The variety and diversity of organisms found in these sites is enormous and seasonal changes impact this diversity. There is suspicion that the many hot spring sites are fully independent, contributing to the distinct difference in species in each location. The largest challenge to identifying the many species of microbes found in the hot springs is the hundreds of contaminants from air, water, precipitation and soil.

PCR (Polymerase Chain Reactions) techniques provide fundamental tool in identifying the DNA fingerprint of the hot spring microbes. Thermophilic enzymes, produced by these organisms, are very desirable. These enzymes are stable, especially at high temperatures and high pH, and work quickly to produce the desired effects.

Thermophilic enzymes are used in oil wells to make the oil easier to pump out. They are also used in feed pellets to allow cows to grow faster, building more muscle and milk. They enhance ethanol production and build biomass in plants. A significant usage is the production of alternative fuel. A five way collaboration to break down carbon in sugar is being studied. In Brazil 95% of their fuel comes from sugarcane.

In summary, “There is Gold to be found in Nevada’s Hot Springs”. Geothermal bacteria and viruses are contributing to the development of biofuels, enhanced growth of food and food products, support for ecosystems and possible biomedical usage in the treatment of disease. The opportunities are endless, the collaborations and partnerships are vital and the impact on enhanced quality of life is significant.

Linda Rubinson, Director of Market Development & Strategic Alliances for Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium

NevBio Joins BIO

The Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium announced on March 31, 2008 that it has accepted an invitation to join the Council of State Bioscience Associations (CSBA), an autonomous council of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). John Laub, Executive Director of the Nevada Biotechnology and Bioscience Consortium, said, “Our affiliation with BIO is very important to help us meet our goals of enhancing biotechnology education and development in Nevada. The BIO partnership will allow us to access resources for Nevada universities, organizations and companies that we would not have had before. BIO has invited the Board of Directors to attend the national conference in San Diego and waived the fee.”

BIO is the largest organization in the world in biotechnology. More than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations are part of BIO. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO’s annual convention is the world’s largest. BIO expects 25,000 to attend the San Diego Convention from June 17th through the 20th, 2008.