RVP Update – Biocorridor

May 24, 2011Dear Friends of the Research Valley Partnership:

As you may have noticed, The Texas A&M System has announced some exciting news in the past few days regarding the Research Valley’s One Health Plus Biocorridor™. In concert with The Research Valley Biocorridor Concept Master Plan, Texas A&M has announced that, among other high profile institutions, it has partnered with global drug manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, to bid for a national biosecurity center that would be located in the Research Valley. If the bid is ultimately awarded to The System, it would have substantial economic ramifications for our region placing the Research Valley squarely on the map as an emerging biotech cluster, further validating our claim as the epicenterof Texas’ emerging biotechnology industry cluster.

I wanted to share with you the news that resulted thus far from this significant announcement. Below are three articles that ran in the Austin American-Statesman, The Texas Tribune, and the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

A&M making bid for national biosecurity center
Kirk Ladendorf

Texas A&M University is teaming with a major drugmaker and other allies in a bid to create a national biosecurity research and development center in College Station.

An arm of drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest vaccine makers, is working with the university and others to prepare a 1,000-page proposal to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The department is expected to create two or three biosecurity centers across the country with hundreds of million of dollars in federal support.

The centers would work on faster and cheaper ways to develop drugs to fight bioterror threats, pandemic influenza and other infectious diseases.

Experts say the existing drug development process falls far short of what the U.S. and the rest of the world would need in the event of a fast-moving deadly disease or bioterror attack.

If A&M is successful, it would be one of the places that ensures the nation’s safety against such attacks, said A&M System Vice Chancellor Brett Giroir, who has pushed the school toward more biosecurity research over the past three years. It also would draw drug company manufacturing projects to Texas as biotech companies work with federally backed centers.

“This would catalyze the biopharmaceutical industry in Texas,” Giroir said last week. “It would bring in companies and (facilities) that would make this the ‘third coast'” of drug development and manufacturing.

Giroir, 50, a veteran medical researcher and a former biotech research manager for the Defense Department, has been putting together the pieces for A&M’s bid since he arrived on campus three years ago.

The most crucial piece, he said, was the drug development center under construction on campus whose technology will allow several different drugs to be simultaneously developed in one facility .

That facility, called the National Center for Therapeutic Manufacturing, is being paid for primarily with a $50 million state grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. That 2009 grant was criticized by some state legislators, who said Gov. Rick Perry, an A&M alumnus, bypassed regular procedures for awarding such grants.

“Without the NCTM, we would not be in the game” to pursue the biosecurity center, Giroir said, “and these partners would not be here with us.”

The center is expected to be completed in August and in operation developing new drugs before the end of this year.

“We are the underdog in this, but we’ve got a good shot,” Giroir said. “We are now in the game. We are swinging the bat. And hopefully we can get a double or a home run.”

Texas is a well-known center for medical research, but it’s well outside the country’s main drug development centers in North Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California.

A&M has 19 partners as part of its application, and it expects to announce more in the weeks ahead. It will submit its proposal in late June, and the government is expected to decide on the winning proposals before the end of the year.

Other partners include the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, the Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Texas A&M System Bidding for Biosecurity Center
By Reeve Hamilton

The Texas A&M University Systemannounced a bid today to become one of the nation’s key centers for defense against infectious diseases and other biological threats.

The A&M System has assembled a team of more than 20 companies, universities and medical research centers from around the globe that together hope to form a new National Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a request for proposals for such centers, which could receive upwards of $1.2 billion, in March.

In August, in the wake of a frustratingly slow response to the nation’s swine flu pandemic, HHS released a report calling for “the nimble, flexible capacity” to produce medical countermeasures like vaccines “in the face of any attack or threat, known or unknown.” Read more…

A&M eyes deal for new facility
By Vimal Patel

The A&M System has assembled a team to vie for a federal award of up to $1.2 billion for a biosecurity center that could rapidly create vaccines to fight emerging infectious diseases and other threats, it announced Friday.

No local impact study has been conducted, but the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center — one of an unknown number of competitors for the project — estimates it would create roughly 1,000 jobs directly and 6,000 indirectly, said Brett Giroir, the A&M System’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives.

The project award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Giroir said, could mean “hundreds of millions of dollars up front in federal investment, and a 25-year potential commitment.” Read more…

We at the Research Valley Partnership could not be more thrilled about this exciting news, and its potential for significant economic diversification in line with our economic development strategy. Should this bid become a reality, the Research Valley’s One Health Plus Biocorridor™ will become the go-to place, the epicenter of Texas’ emerging biotechnology industry cluster.

We wish Texas A&M the best of luck in the process, stand ready to be of assistance as their partner, and look forward to sharing more developments with you on this game-changing endeavor. �

All my best,

Todd E. McDaniel, CEcD
The Research Valley Partnership, Inc.�