BioFlorida Recognizes Florida's Contribution to Fight COVID-19
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of life science industry leaders virtually convened at the BioFlorida, Inc. Annual Conference to celebrate and share successes around efforts to test, treat, and prevent COVID-19 while propelling further collaboration around other global health concerns.
"Florida has built an impressive, diverse life sciences ecosystem representing 6,700 establishments and research organizations that employ nearly 94,000 Floridians," said Nancy K. Bryan, President and CEO of BioFlorida. "Research and testing are essential to develop, manufacture, and distribute new vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics. Our strong foundation and sustained growth ensure we are poised to address a global health crisis, like COVID-19. Our companies have stepped up to meet the challenge with unprecedented industry collaboration all while staying focused on other global health concerns."
The conference addressed trending topics for Florida's life science industry such as equity in the industry, investing, rare disease, and medical technology with a special focus on COVID-19. National and state thought leaders discussed testing, treatments and prevention for COVID-19, how the pandemic has changed healthcare, and how our industries have responded and evolved to make a difference.
Seed and early-stage companies participated in the BioPitch competition, which provided opportunities for coaching, as well as presentations to investors for feedback and potential funding. The three semi-finalists included Biom Therapeutics, VoluMetrix, and Westwood Bioscience -- with VoluMetrix, a company committed to creating a new wave of solutions for vital monitoring to enhance well-being, winning the top recognition.
BioFlorida also recognized individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements across five distinct categories, including this year's newest award, the COVID-19 Innovation Award. This year's award recipients include:
COVID-19 Innovation Award
The 2020 COVID-19 Innovation Award was presented to Dr. Yogi Goswami, the world-renowned Director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, who has published twenty-two books and over 400 peer-reviewed scientific and technical papers on topics including indoor air quality. Dr. Goswami is also a Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer of Molekule, an air purification company that is on a mission to provide clean indoor air to everyone, everywhere.
Based on more than 25 years of research and development, Dr. Goswami helped develop Molekule's patented photo electrochemical oxidation (PECO) technology that destroys the widest range of pollutants when compared to traditional air filters. This includes the destruction of microscopic pollutants including bacteria, mold, chemicals, viruses, and more, all of which have been verified by independent, third party labs and can be viewed on their website here. This includes testing on RNA virus MS2 Bacteriophage, a proxy virus to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Molekule manufactures a range of consumer and commercial-grade air purifiers, including a medical grade air purifier with FDA 510(k) class II medical device clearance for the destruction of viruses and bacteria in healthcare settings.
David J. Gury Company of the Year Award
The 2020 David J. Gury Company of the Year Award was presented to Peter H. Khoury, Ph.D., President & CEO of Ology Bioservices, a biologics contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) serving both government and commercial clients, specializing in biologic drug substance manufacturing from early stage through commercial product.
Based in Alachua, Ology Bioservices has 183,000 square feet of manufacturing, process development and QA/QC space in its state-of-the-art Advanced Development and Manufacturing Facility. The company's infrastructure provides unique services, including full regulatory support from preclinical through licensure, clinical trial operational support and bioanalytical testing, as well as CGMP manufacturing up to Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3). Ology Bioservices has more than 20 years' experience developing and manufacturing drugs and biologics for the U.S. government, with over $1.8 billion in government contracts awarded. So far in 2020, the company has been awarded more than $300 million in contracts, including multiple projects to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and Operation Warp Speed.
Weaver H. Gaines Entrepreneur of the Year Award
The 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year Award was awarded to Thomas K. Equels, Chief Executive Officer of AIM ImmunoTech an Ocala-based immuno-pharma company focused on the research and development of therapeutics to treat multiple types of cancers, immune disorders and viral diseases, including COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. As an attorney and former combat aviator, Equels is leading the company's efforts around its flagship products, Ampligen (rintatolimod) and Alferon N Injection. Ampligen is being evaluated as a potential treatment for COVID-19, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), and multiple types of cancers. Alferon is a natural interferon that is approved in the U.S. for the treatment of refractory or recurrent external genital warts in patients ages 18 or older.
AIM recently signed a clinical trial agreement to test the safety and effectiveness of the combination regimen of Ampligen combined with Interferon Alfa-2b to clear the SARS-CoV-2 virus from the upper airway in patients with cancer and mild-to-moderate COVID-19. AIM also recently signed a material transfer and research agreement with Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) and Shionogi, a leading global pharmaceutical company, to test Ampligen as potential vaccine adjuvant for COVID-19. Ampligen has also demonstrated the potential for standalone efficacy in the clinical setting in a number of solid tumors like pancreatic cancer and brain-metastatic breast cancer with six immuno-oncology clinical trials at highly respected NCI-Designated Cancer Centers.
BioFlorida Leadership Award
Moore is an entrepreneur, industry thought leader, crisis communication counselor, public speaker, best-selling author, and community pillar. She has been a champion for BioFlorida and the life sciences industry. As a nationally-recognized expert and key leader on BioFlorida advocacy efforts, Moore has developed passionate advocates for the life sciences industry, as well as new members for BioFlorida. Moore also serves as a valued member of the BioFlorida Executive Committee and has served on the board for nearly 10 years.
BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award
The 2020 recipient of the BioFlorida Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Herbert Weissbach, 88, a Professor Emeritus for FAU's Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. A National Academy of Science member, among many other distinguished societies, Weissbach has authored/co-authored 465 scientific publications and 119 abstracts. Weissbach's lifetime achievements have made a lasting impact on the biotechnology industry, making him highly deserving of Bio-Florida's Lifetime Achievement Award.
As a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at Florida Atlantic University, Weissbach's most recent research has involved understanding the mechanisms that cells use to protect against oxidative damage, based on his laboratory's discovery that cells have a mechanism to protect against oxidative damage to methionine residues in proteins. He currently serves as a scientific advisor to NutraPharm Health LLC, a company developing drugs to protect against oxidative damage and very recently founded Prolindox Inc., a company focused on developing a therapy to treat a genetic blinding disease.
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